Let's find out how it is formed and when it is used.
Formation of the past simple with regular verbs
We form the Past Simple with regular verbs by adding -ed to the verb only in positive sentences.
In negative sentences and in questions we use did + the infinitive.
He worked yesterday.
(work – infinitive form, worked – Past Simple form. )
He didn't work yesterday.
(No ending -ed with the verb)
Did he work yesterday? Yes, he did or No, he didn't.
(Again, no ending -ed with the verb)
Formation of the past simple with irregular verbs
If we have irregular verbs, we use the second form of the verb.
They went to university an hour ago.
Go – went – gone. Go (infinitive) – went (second form) – gone (third one), went is the second form so we use it.
They went to school an hour ago.
They didn't go to school an hour ago.
(We use didn't + the infinitive of the verb)
Did they go to school an hour ago? Yes, they did or No, they didn't.
(We use did and the infinitive)
Formation of the past simple with irregular verb to be
The exception is the irregular verb to be.
We use in the Past Simple to be in the form of was for I, he, she, it and were for we, you, they.
In negative sentences and in questions was and were are used as well.
He was at home last night.
They were at home last night.
He wasn't at home last night.
They weren't at home last night.
Was he at home last night? Yes, he was or No, he wasn't.
Were they at home last night? Yes, they were or No, they weren't.
We use the Past Simple when we want to express an action that finished at a specific time in the past.
She finished school in 2011. (In 2011 is a specific time)
My family lived in London last summer.(Last summer is a specific time)
We use the Past Simple with different past time phrases such as
yesterday, an hour ago, last week, in July, in 1999, in the 20th century, in the 1970s, when I was a child and many others.
We bought a dog last week.
I travelled around Europe in July.
I hope the information was useful for you and at last you understood when and how to use the Past Simple.