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  • Since 2005, VESL has supported the professional development of volunteer ELL tutors throughout the city of Calgary.

    The project is supported by Calgary Learns with funding support provided by Alberta Advanced Education.

    VESL is the collaborative effort of three Calgary ELL service providers with long standing volunteer programs: Bow Valley College, the Calgary Public Library, and the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society.


    Visit the VESL Network online for:

     Information on upcoming workshops

     Handouts from previous workshops

     Tutor tips & ideas  The latest blog stories about

    VESL, including VESL volunteer profiles

  • Simple Past Tense Nadia Khan

    Bow Valley College

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  • Simple Past Tense

    Purpose • The simple past tense is used to talk about things, events or situations

    that happened in the past and are now finished.

    They arrived last night.

     I studied last night.  We ate pizza yesterday.  They visited New York last year.  They stayed at the Grand Hotel.

    Future Now


  • Simple Past Tense Function and Use

    Completed Action in the Past • The Simple Past is used to express the idea that an action started

    and finished at a specific time in the past. Sometimes, the specific time may not be mentioned, but speakers have one specific time in mind.

    • Examples: • I saw a movie last night. • Last year, I traveled to Australia. • Last year, I didn't travel to Korea. • Did you have dinner last night? • He washed his car.

  • Simple Past Tense

    A Series of Completed Actions • 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 ate supper, washed the dishes, and cleaned the kitchen. • She came to the college at 8:00, took out her books from the

    locker, and went to the class. • Did you cut the strawberries, pour in the milk, and

    then add sugar?

  • Simple Past Tense

    Duration in the Past • The Simple Past can be used to indicate that an action or

    event occurred over a period of time in the past with the implication that it is no longer true in the present.

    • Examples: • I lived in Colombia for two years. • Paul was on the soccer team in college. • We sat at the beach all day. • We talked on the phone for thirty minutes.

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  • Simple Past Tense

    • Form • Subject + Past form of the verb

    • She arrived at 3:00 pm. • They ate ice cream.

  • Regular and Irregular Verbs

    • Regular verbs in the simple past are conjugated according to an established pattern. These verbs end in –ed. –ed is added to the base form of the verb.

    • Played, arrived, studied • Verb ends in-e, add only-d ( arrive- arrived) • Verb ends in y after a consonant, change the y to i and add –ed

    ( study- studied) • Irregular verbs do not follow a pattern and do not end in –ed.

    These verbs have to be memorized. Ate, drove, slept, went, put, read, flew

  • Irregular Verb- be Singular Simple past of be Example

    I/ She/ he/ it was She was at the library yesterday.


    We/ you/ they were We were at home last night.

    Negative Was + not I was not in class yesterday. Were + not They were not in Calgary last week.

    Yes/ No question Was + subject + base form of the verb Was John at home last night? Were + subject + base form of the verb Were you in class yesterday?

  • Simple Past

    • Affirmative statements

    • In the simple past, the verb form is the same for all persons.

    Subject Main verb in the simple past

    I You He/ she/it I/We They

    walked. drove. studied. swam.

  • Simple Past Negative Statements

    • The auxiliary is conjugated in the Past Simple ( do-did) • The main verb is in the base form • For negative sentences, we insert not between the auxiliary

    verb and main verb.

    Subject Did not Base form of the verb

    I You He/ she/it I/We They

    did not didn’t

    walk. drive. study. swim.

  • Interrogative/ Yes/ No Question

    • We can use did or didn’t in short answers. • Did it snow? • Yes, it did. (Yes) • No, it didn’t. (no) • To make WH questions, add the question before did. • For question sentences, we exchange the subject and the auxiliary verb.

    Did Subject Base Form


    I You He/ she/it I/We They

    wake sleep stay eat Take

    you up? late? home? all the cookies? warm clothes?

  • Common Past Time Markers Yesterday Last Ago yesterday yesterday morning yesterday afternoon yesterday evening

    last night last Monday last week last summer last year

    five minutes ago two hours ago three days ago a couple of days ago a week ago a month ago a year ago

    Last is used with night, with long periods of time, with seasons, and with days of the week.

    Ago means in the past. It follows specific lengths of time( e.g. five minutes + ago, two years + ago)

  • Common Past Time Markers • Time markers usually come at the beginning or at

    the end of sentences. Yesterday afternoon, I went for shopping. I went for shopping yesterday afternoon.

    • Today, this morning, this afternoon, and this evening can be past time markers if they mean ‘before now’.

    I studied grammar today. I was late for work this morning.

    • Let’s play a game…

  • Strategies for Tutoring Learners • Introduce/ reinforce Time Markers • Start by modeling the simple past- Use the simple

    past to share your past experiences preferably using time markers.

    • Or give an example: Yesterday evening I walked…

    • Ask yourself and then the learners the same questions: What did you cook last night?

    • When did you wake up this morning?

  • Strategies for Tutoring Learners

    • Introduce regular and then irregular verbs.

    • Visual representation- show pictures

    • Comprehension activities: Use stories of vacations or news stories. These will help underline the idea that the past simple is used to narrate what happened in the past.

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  • Be careful • Over generalization of the rule auxiliary + base form of the verb.

    I was cook vegetables last night. We were won the game yesterday.

    • Use of auxiliary and main verb in the past tense. – didn’t went, did you cooked?

    • Ending irregular verbs in –ed, especially those that don’t change their form- cutted, knewed

    • Use of verb+ing only- I walking school yesterday. • Use of the infinitive/ base form only- I take bus yesterday.

  • Ideas for activities • Charade Series- give out verbs to learners and ask them to act.

    Other students guess the verb in the past tense. • Diary entry- Learners write about events that happened. • Picture sentences/ picture stories: Learners guess what’s

    happening in the picture. • Use facts about a famous person from the past to practice yes/

    no questions. • Error correction • Writing about past events • Write the opposite of the verbs. Use irregular verbs..

    remembered-? floated-? opened-?/ buy-? send-?

  • Activities/ Games • Board games Let’s play… • Post sentences with missing verbs around the room. Give verbs to

    learners and ask them to fill in the gaps with the correct verbs. Let’s try this… • Songs • Yesterday- The Beatles • Coldplay- Paradise Set Fire to the rain- Adele Summer of 69- Brian Adams

  • Pronunciation of ed endings

    • Regular verbs in the past tense end in ed. The final sounds for regular verbs in the past are /t/, /d/, /id/

    • Laughed, played, wanted • The final sound is pronounced /t/ after voiceless sounds /f/, /k/, /p/, /s/,

    /f/ /k/ /p/ /s/ /ch/ /sh/ laughed licked sipped missed watched wished

  • Pronunciation of -ed endings • The final sound is pronounced /d/ after voiced sounds.

    • The final sound is pronounced /d/ after vowel sounds.

    /r/ /ng/ /th/ /y/ /v /z/ occurred banged bathed massaged lived surprised

    /b/ /g/ /j/ /l/ /m/ /n/ rubbed hugged judged pulled hummed banned

    played tied argued skied snowed

  • Pronunciation of ed endings

    • The final sound is pronounced /id/ after /t/ and /d/. /id/ adds a syllable.

    These rules do not apply to adjectives ending in –ed: wicked, wretched, crooked Let’s try this…

    /t/ /d/ Wanted, instructed, rested attended

  • Spelling Rules Rule Example 1. If the verb ends in an e, add d arrive arrived

    love loved 2. If the verb ends in a consonant, add -ed rain rained

    help helped 3. If a one-syllable verb ends in a consonant, a vowel and a consonant (CVC), double the last consonant and add –ed.

    However, don’t double the consonant if it is w, x, or y.

    CVC hug hugged rub rubbed