Past Tense

Simple Past Tense Formula: Structure and Examples

Team FEG

Simple past tense formula with examples

One of the most common verb tenses in English is the simple past tense. Mastering the simple past tense is essential for effective communication. In this article, we will discuss the simple past tense formula, providing a comprehensive guide for crafting sentences in the past tense effortlessly. We will explore the formulas for affirmative statements, negatives, questions, and negative interrogative sentences.

Simple Past Tense Formula 

Sentence TypeFormulaExample
AffirmativeSubject + V2 + objectI went to the park.
NegativeSubject + did not/didn’t + V1 + objectI did not go to the park.
Or, I didn’t go to the park.
Questions/InterrogativeDid + subject + V1 + objectDid you go to the park?
Interrogative NegativeDid + subject + not + V1 + object
Or,  Didn’t + subject + V1 + object
Did you not go to the park?
Or,  Didn’t you go to the park?

What is Simple Past Tense?

The simple past tense is the tense we use when we talk about an action or event that started and finished in the past. It denotes a completed activity, making it the ideal choice whenever we wish to express or narrate such actions.

Using Simple Past Tense Formula

We have four different ways to create four kinds of sentences in the past. Let’s learn each type of sentence using the simple past tense formula one after the other, with examples.

Simple Past Formula For Affirmative Sentences

Subject + V2 (Past form of verb) + object

We use the past form of the verb in simple past tense affirmative sentences. You must know the past form of the verbs while making simple past affirmative sentences. Otherwise, you will make mistakes even if you know the simple past tense formula.

In English, regular verbs typically form their past tense by adding “-ed” to the base form (e.g., walk – walked, finish – finished). However, irregular verbs have unique past forms that do not follow this pattern (e.g., go – went, eat – ate).


  • called him this morning.
  • We bought a new house.
  • She told me the truth.
  • We went shopping yesterday.
  • Jennifer and John got married.
  • She got a new job last month.
  • They found their missing dog.
  • He died in a car accident in 2016.
  • Her sister served in the army for 10 years.
  • lost my wallet on the way to the airport last week.

Simple Past Tense Formula For Negative Sentences

Subject + did not + V1(Base form of verb) + object

When making negative sentences in the simple past tense, we use “did not” or its contraction “didn’t” along with the base form of the verb. For example, “Mona didn’t eat breakfast.”

It’s okay to use contractions like ‘didn’t‘ in casual conversations. However, in serious or formal situations, such as important discussions, writing school papers, or sending professional emails, it’s better to avoid contractions. Instead, use the full form “did not” to sound more proper and formal. This helps you speak or write in a way that fits the situation and sounds right.


  • didn’t call him this morning.
  • We didn’t buy a new house.
  • She didn’t tell me the truth.
  • We didn’t go shopping yesterday.
  • Jennifer and John didn’t get married.
  • She didn’t get a new job last month.
  • They didn’t find their missing dog.
  • He didn’t die in a car accident in 2016.
  • Her sister didn’t serve in the army for 10 years.
  • didn’t lose my wallet on the way to the airport last week.
Simple past tense formula chart
Simple Past Tense Formula

Simple Past Tense Formula For Questions   

Did + subject + V1 + object? 

Start the simple past interrogative sentences using the helping verb “did.” And use the base form of the verb. 


  • Did call him this morning?
  • Did we buy a new house?
  • Did she tell me the truth?
  • Did we go shopping yesterday?
  • Did Jennifer and John get married?
  • Did she get a new job last month?
  • Did they find their missing dog?
  • Did he die in a car accident in 2016?
  • Did her sister serve in the army for 10 years? 
  • Did I lose my wallet on the way to the airport last week?

Simple Past Tense Formula For Interrogative Negative Sentences

The structure for creating interrogative negative sentences in the simple past tense involves using the helping verb “did,” followed by the subject, “not,” the base form of the verb, and the object. The formula looks like this:

Did + Subject + not + Verb + Object?

Two Ways to Form Simple Past Interrogative Negative Sentences:

  1. Did you not know him?
    • In this form, “did” is followed directly by the subject “you,” then “not,” the base form “know,” and finally, the object “him.” This structure emphasizes formality and is suitable for more traditional or formal contexts.
  2. Didn’t you know him?
    • Alternatively, the contraction “didn’t,” derived from “did not,” can be used, creating a more informal and commonly used version of the sentence. This is suitable for casual conversations and less formal situations.


  • Didn’t I call him this morning?
  • Didn’t we buy a new house?
  • Didn’t she tell me the truth?
  • Didn’t we go shopping yesterday?
  • Didn’t Jennifer and John get married?
  • Didn’t she get a new job last month?
  • Didn’t they find their missing dog?
  • Didn’t he die in a car accident in 2016?
  • Didn’t her sister serve in the army for 10 years? 
  • Didn’t I lose my wallet on the way to the airport last week?

Those were the four simple past tense formulas to make sentences in the simple past tense. We hope it was helpful! If you want to learn more about simple past tense and its use, click here!  

You can also check out the following pages to improve your English grammar. 

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