Time Expressions


Past Simple


We use past tense to talk about:

–> something that happened once in the past:

  • I met my wife in 1983.
  • We went to Spain for our holidays.
  • They got home very late last night.

–> something that happened again and again in the past:

  • When I was a boy I walked a mile to school every day.
  • We swam a lot while we were on holiday.
  • They always enjoyed visiting their friends.

–> something that was true for some time in the past:

  • I lived abroad for ten years.
  • He enjoyed being a student.
  • She played a lot of tennis when she was younger.

–> we often use phrases with ago with the past tense:

  • I met my wife a long time ago.

The form of the Past Simple is the same in all persons.


We use did to make questions with the past tense. 

We use did + subject + infinitive (without to) in all persons:

  • When did you meet your wife?
  • Where did you go for your holidays?
  • Did she play tennis when she was younger?
  • Did you live abroad?

But look at these questions with who:

  • Who discovered penicillin?
  • Who wrote Don Quixote?

Yes/No questions

  • Did you like the film? No, I didn’t.
  • Did she enjoy the party? Yes, she did.


We use didn’t (did not) to make negatives with the past tense.

We use didn’t + infinitive (without to) in all persons:

  • They didn’t go to Spain this year.
  • We didn’t get home until very late last night.
  • I didn’t see you yesterday.