Bài 37: Thì quá khứ đơn (The simple past tense)

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The simple past tense 3a

Basic English Grammar. Lesson 3

Topic: The simple past tense

Part 1: Recognizing and Understanding the Simple Past Tense

Watch and Listen!

I want something to eat. Uhm maybe candy. Oh I take one piece. Yeah. Oh there’s an apple.

Ok I put it back and I only eat the apple, not the candy


The following text describes what you saw in the video. Can you find all the verbs in the simple past tense?

What happened in the video?

Jennifer was at the kitchen table. She wanted to eat something.

First, she thought about eating candy. She opened the candy jar in front of her and took out a piece.

Now take a moment and try to find the verbs in the simple past tense.

Do you see them? Here they are: happened, was, wanted, thought, opened, took.

Let’s go on the second half of the text.

Then she looked at the apple. In the end, she didn’t eat the candy. She put it back and ate the apple. That was a good choice.

As before, I want you to find the verbs and the simple past tense.

Do you see them? Let me show you

The verbs in the simple past are looked, didn’t eat, put, ate, was.

How did you do? Were you able to find out them all?

Don’t worry if you found the first exercise a little difficult.

I’m going to show you all the forms that the simple past tense can use

Then in the future it will be easier for you to recognize it.

So now let's turn our attention to the forms and meanings of the simple past tense.

We look at the verb “to be”, regular verbs and irregular verbs

In the simple past tense, the verb “to be” has two forms: WAS and WERE

WAS is used with singular nouns, uncountable nouns, and the pronouns I, she, he and it.


I was hungry.

She was in the kitchen.

There was candy in the jar. Candy is an example of an uncountable noun.

The apple was a good choice. This is an example of a singular noun.

WERE is used with plural nouns, compound subjects, and the pronouns you, we, and they.

Examples: You were hungry.

The apple and candy were on the table.  Apple and candy being a compound subject.

There were many pieces of candy in the jar. Pieces is an example of plural noun

We often use the verb “to be” in the simple past tense to tell about a past event, state, or condition.

Examples: Jennifer was at the kitchen table

She was hungry.

All of these happened in the past. All of these were true in the past. I'm telling you about my vacation and how I was feeling.

I was at the kitchen table. I was hungry.

Ok now that’s we covered the verb “to be”, we’re going to talk about all the other verbs.

We’ll group them into: regular verbs and irregular verbs.

In the simple past, regular verbs end in “-ed”. Can you identify the regular verbs from the text?

There are six verbs highlighted in orange. Can you find the 3 regular verbs?

They are wanted, opened and looked

These verbs are easier to recognize and you want to know the spelling rules

Here are the spelling rules for forming regular verbs:

Rule 1: Add “-ed” to a verb that ends in a consonant:

Example:  want ends in “t”. So we get wanted. Look ends in “k”. So we have looked.

Rule 2: If a verb ends in consonant-vowel-consonant, double the last consonant before adding “-ed”.

Stop is a good example. It ends in “top”, consonant- vowel- consonant. So we’re going to double the “p” and then add “ed”. And we get stopped.

There are a couple of exceptions to rule number 2.

First, don’t double the consonants w, x, y. For example in “fix” we only write one x.

The second exception is words unstressed syllable. Don’t double the last consonant if the last syllable is unstressed

For example, in “open”. The stress is on the first syllable. So you do not double the “n

Rule 3: Add only “-d” to a verb that ends in “e”.

For example, we add “d” to “like” and get “liked”.

Rule 4: If a verb ends in “y”, change the “y” to an “i” and then add “-ed”.

For example: the verb “carry”. Before we add “ed”, we change the “y” to an “i” and then we get carried

There’s one exception to rule 3:

That’s when a vowel before “y”. For example in “play”, we have “a” before “y”. We will not change the “y” to an “i”. We simply add “ed”: played

Now look at the irregular verbs from the text. Can you identify the infinitive for each verb?

Example: Jennifer was at the kitchen table. What is the infinitive? To be

Now it is your turn.

Number 1: She thought about eating candy. The infinitive? To think

2. She took out the piece. The infinitive? To take

3. She put it back in the jar. The infinitive? To put

4. She ate the apple. What’s the infinitive? To eat

Now irregular verbs can be tricky. There are lots to remember. Most grammar books have a list of irregular verbs in the back.

You can also look online; just do a search in the key word: irregular verbs in English.

End of Part 1. Please go on to the next part of this lesson

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