Simple Past Summery

Simple Past Diagram

We use the Simple Past when we talk about something which started and finished in the past.




We use the Simple Past to describe a series of actions in the past.



We use the Simple Past (red) together with the Past Progressive (grey). The action in the Simple Past interrupted the action in the Past Progressive (the one which was in progress).


Key Words

last week
a month ago
in 2002


Simple Past Use

The Simple Past is used to talk about actions or situations in the past. It is also called Past Simple.

simple past

Here’s when we use the Simple Past tense:

1 Finished events in the past with no connection to the present: Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa.
The Vikings invaded Britain.
2 With a finished time word (yesterday, last week, at 2 o’clock, in 2003): went to the cinema yesterday.
We visited Japan in 2007.
3 For stories / lists of events: He went to a café, sat down and lit a cigarette.
Yesterday I went to the library, met a friend for lunch, and played tennis.
4 Details of news: I’ve hurt my leg. I fell off a ladder when I was painting my bedroom.
I’ve been on holiday. I went to Spain and Portugal.
5 As part of the second conditionalIf I won the lottery, I would buy a house in Chelsea.
If she knew his number, she would call him.