The Past Simple Tense is the basic form of the past tense in Modern English. It is used primarily to talk about events in the past, though it also has some other uses.After the present simple tense comes the past simple tense. 
My students used to hate this tense because of the irregular verbs.
In this page, I will explain step by step the following points:1. How to form the past simple tense.
2. When to use the past simple tense.

How to form the past simple tense:

The affirmative form:

Regular English verbs form the simple past in -ed; yet there are a few hundred irregular verbs with different forms.

     The Rest of the sentence
I / you / we / they
stayed/ cooked
at home
he / she / it
stayed/ cooked

  at home

1. For verbs that end in -C, we add -ked.

  • Panic– Panicked
  • Picnic– Picnicked
  • Mimic– Mimicked
  • Traffic– Trafficked
2. For verbs that end in -E, we add – d
  • Close– Closed
  • Free– Freed
  • Hate– Hated
  • Hope– Hoped
3. For verbs that end in a ‘Y’ preceded by a consonant, we remove the Y and add -IED
  • Carry– Carried
  • Study– Studied
  • Magnify– Magnified
  • Cry– Cried

4. For verbs that end in a stressed ‘Consonant+Vowel+Consonant’, double the final  consonant before adding -ed.

  • Plan– Planned
  • Dam– Dammed
  • Beg– Begged
  • Strip– Stripped
5. Irregular verbs form the past tense by a change in orthography (spelling).
  • See– Saw
  • Bring– Brought
  • Speak– Spoke
  • Make– Made

Negative form:

To make a negative sentence in English (Pat Simple Tense) we generally use didn’t  with all the English verbs APART FROM To Be and Modal verbs (can, might, should etc.).

  • Affirmative: I closed all the windows.
  • Negative: I didn’t close all the windows.
  • Affirmative: I saw a ghost.
  • Negative: I didn’t see a ghost.
As you can notice we simply add didn’t between the subject and the verb.
 We use didn’t with all the personal subject pronouns without exception.
Verb (base form)
The Rest of the sentence
I / you / we / they
sleep/ dream
fight/ pray etc.
he / she / it
 Interrogative form:

Yes/no questions are also formed using the auxiliary ‘to do’. But, pay attention this time, the auxiliary is placed before the subject:

Did I eat?
Did you watch TV?
Did he drink his coffee?
Did she quit her job?
Did it bark loud?
Did we believe his story?
Did they smoke in the classroom?
WH- questions (questions starting with Wh-words such as “what”, “who”, “why”, “when” and “where”) are also created by putting  the auxiliary do before the subject:
Yes/no question
WH- question
I ate cherries
Did I eat cherries?
What Did I eat?
You played guitar.
Did you play guitar?
Where Did you play guitar?
He threw the French fries.
Did he throw the French fries?
why did he throw the French fries?

When to use  the Past simple tense:

1: Completed Action in the Past:
  • I saw a poltergeist yesterday.
  • Last year, I travelled to England.
  • Where did you go last night?
  • She washed her hair.
  • He didn’t eat his dinner.

2: A Series of Completed Actions:

  • I finished my households, prepared a sandwich and some kiwi juice, went to the  beach, and found a nice place to sunbathe.
  • Did you do your homework, wear your pyjamas, brush you teeth, say your prayers?

3: Duration in Past:

  • I lived alone for ten years.
  • My dad studied at the police university for three years.
  • They sat in the airport all day.
  • A: How long did you wait for your first customers?
  • B: We waited for six long hours.

4: Habits in the Past:

  • I studied many languages when I was a child.
  • He played the drums.
  • Did you play a musical instrument when you were a kid?
  • They never learnt how to be polite, they always skipped etiquette classes.

5: Past Facts or Generalisations:

  • She was nice as a child, but now she is very rude.
  • He didn’t like TV shows before.
  • People spent much more days on roads to visit their families in the past.