Lawless English

Simple past of regular verbs

The simple past is used to describe an action that occurred and was completed in the past. The simple past is formed by adding ed to the base form of the verb (the infinitive without to).

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base form + ed = simple past
walk walked
push pushed
greet greeted
cover covered

In English, the simple past of regular verbs is very easy because is the same for all persons. For example, here’s the the simple past of the verb WORK.

  singular   plural
1st per I worked yesterday. We worked yesterday.
2nd per You worked yesterday. You worked yesterday.
3rd per He, She, It worked yesterday. They worked yesterday.

There are several irregularities in the spelling of regular verbs in the simple past. Similarly, there are different ways to pronounce the simple past ending – see the lesson on pronunciation of the Simple Past –ed ending.

For regular verbs ending in the vowel -e, add d.

base form   simple past
hate hated
seize seized
hope hoped
assume assumed
tie tied
free freed

For the very few English verbs that end in a vowel other than -e, add ed.

base form   simple past
ski skied
echo echoed

Exceptions: The verbs DO and GO are irregular: See below.

For regular verbs that end in a vowel+y, add ed.

base form   simple past
play played
decay decayed
survey surveyed
enjoy enjoyed

Exceptions: The verbs SAY and BUY are irregular: See below.

For regular verbs that end in a consonant+y, change the y to i and add ed.

base form   simple past
cry cried
dirty dirtied
magnify magnified

Exception: The verb FLY is irregular: See below.

For regular verbs ending in a consonant + vowel + consonant, double the final consonant before adding -ed.

base form   simple past
dam dammed
beg begged
plan planned
strip stripped

In American English, when the regular verb has more than one syllable and the syllable stress is on the final syllable, the final consonant is doubled.

base form   simple past   incorrect
defer deferred defered
regret regretted regreted
reship reshipped reshiped
compel compelled compeled

In these verbs, the stress is not on the final syllable so the consonant is not doubled.

base form   simple past   incorrect
orbit orbited orbitted
listen listened listenned
travel traveled travelled
consider considered considerred

Here are examples sentences with regular verbs in the simple present and the simple past.

simple present   simple past
I walk to school. I walked to school.
She works downtown. She worked downtown.
They help on Tuesday. They helped on Tuesday.
He asks a lot of questions. He asked a lot of questions.

Irregular verbs do not form the past tense by adding -ed. Irregular verbs form the past tense by a change in orthography (spelling).

base form   simple past
buy bought
do did
fly flew
forget forgot
light lit
go went
say said
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