Friday, April 30, 2010

The Simple Past Illustrated



When to Use the Simple Past:
Use the Simple Past to express the idea that an action started and finished at a specific time in the past. Sometimes, the speaker may not actually mention the specific time, but they do have one specific time in mind.

How To Form the Simple Past:
To form the simple past of most regular verbs in English, add –ed (suffix) to the base form of the verb. The base form of a verb is defined as the infinitive without the preposition to infinitive marker. For example:
Infinitive – Base – Simple Past
• to want – want – wanted
• to follow – follow – followed
• to listen – listen – listened
• to wish – wish – wished

Many verbs need a change in spelling between the base form and the simple past. Those verbs that are spelled with a "silent" e on the end of the word, remove the "silent" e and then add the ¬-ed. For example:
Infinitive – Base – Simple Past
• to care – care – cared
• to decide – decide – decided
• to introduce – introduce – introduced
• to realize – realize – realized
• to use – use – used

Verbs that are spelled with a y on the end of the word change the y to an i and then add the ¬-ed suffix:
Infinitive – Base – Simple Past
• to deny – deny – denied
• to party – party – partied
• to study – study – studied
• to worry – worry – worried

One-syllable verbs spelled with a single vowel followed by a consonant other than w, x, and y, double the last consonant and then add the ¬-ed suffix. For example:
Infinitive – Base – Simple Past
• to bag – bag – bagged
• to nap – nap – napped
• to pet – pet – petted
• to rob – rob – robbed
• to shop – shop – shopped

Two-syllable verbs spelled with a single vowel followed by a consonant, in which the second syllable is stressed, double the last consonant and then add the ¬-ed suffix. For example:
Infinitive – Base – Simple Past
• to concur – concur – concurred
• to deter – deter - deterred
• to format – format – formatted
• to prefer – prefer – preferred
• to regret – regret – regretted

For those few verbs spelled with a letter c at the end of the word, add a k after the c and then add the ¬-ed suffix. For example:
Infinitive – Base – Simple Past
• to frolic – frolic – frolicked
• to mimic – mimic – mimicked
• to panic – panic – panicked
• to picnic – picnic – picnicked
• to traffic – traffic – trafficked

Uses:

We use the Simple Past to list a series of completed actions in the past. These actions happen 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and so on.
Examples:
• I finished my tea, walked to the beach, and returned in one hour.
• He arrived in the city at 8:00, checked into the hotel at 9:00, and met them at 10:00.
• Did you add flour, pour in the milk, and then add the eggs?

The Simple Past can be used with a duration which starts and stops in the past.
A: duration is a longer action often indicated by expressions such as: for two years, for five minutes, all day, all year, etc.
Examples:
• I lived in Peru for two years.
• Sheila studied Japanese for five years.
• They sat at the beach all day.
• They did not stay at the party the entire time.
• We talked on the phone for one minute.
A: How long did you wait for them?
B: We waited for two hour.

The Simple Past can also be used to describe a habit which stopped in the past. It can have the same meaning as “used to." To make it clear that we are talking about a habit, we often add expressions such as: always, often, usually, never, when I was a child, when I was younger, etc.
Examples:
• I studied German when I was a child.
• My sister played the violin.
• She didn't play the piano.
• Did you play oboe when you were a kid?
• She worked at the pharmacy after school.
• They never went to school, they always skipped class.

The Simple Past can also be used to describe past facts or generalizations which are no longer true.
Examples:
• She was shy as a child, but now she is very outgoing.
• He didn't like tomatoes before.
• Did you live in Texas when you were a kid?
• People paid much more to make cell phone calls in the past.

When-Clauses Happen First
Clauses are groups of words which have meaning but are often not complete sentences. Some clauses begin with the word "when" such as "when I dropped my pen..." or "when class began..." These clauses are called when-clauses, and they are very important. The examples below contain when-clauses.
Examples:
• When I paid her one dollar, she answered my question.
• She answered my question when I paid her one dollar.

When-clauses are important because they always happen first when both clauses are in the Simple Past. Both of the examples above mean the same thing: first, I paid her one dollar, and then, she answered my question. It is not important whether "when I paid her one dollar" is at the beginning of the sentence or at the end of the sentence. However, the example below has a different meaning. First, she answered my question, and then, I paid her one dollar.
Example:
• I gave her one dollar when she answered my question.

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