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Regular Verbs in the Past Tense

Regular Verbs in the Past Tense

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Regular verbs in the past tense

 

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn how to form and use regular verbs in the simple past tense. In a previous lesson, you learned some verbs in the simple present tense. Regular verbs in the simple past tense are formed by adding "-ed" to the base form of the verb. If the base form of the verb ends in "e", we simply add "d" to the base form.  Some of these verbs are:

"want – wanted"

"learn – learned"

"look – looked"

"listen – listened"

"believe  - believed"

"dance – danced"

"like – liked"

We usually use the simple past tense with a specific time in the past.  For example, we might say "Jennifer and David danced last night." or "David wanted noodles yesterday.".

Formation of questions in the past tense follows a pattern which is similar to question formation in the simple present tense with the auxiliary verb "do." In the simple past tense, we use the past form of "do", which is "did" with the base form of the verb. For example, we might ask "Did David and Jennifer dance last night?".  The answer to that question could be "Yes, they danced last night." or "No, they did not dance last night.". We can also use the short forms, which are "Yes, they did." or "No, they did not.".

There are three pronunciation patterns with verbs in the regular past tense. The "-ed" ending of verbs whose base forms end in a voiceless soundis pronounced like "t". The "-ed" ending of verbs whose base forms end in a voiced sound is pronounced like "d". The "-ed" ending of verbs whose base form ends in "t" or "d" is pronounced like "id".

The voiceless sounds are "f, k, p, s," and "x".   The voiced sounds are "b, d, g, j, l, m, n, r, v, w, y, z," and all the vowel sounds "a,e,i,o," and "u."  
As you listen to the dialog, listen for different sounds of the "-ed" ending.

Jennifer:  We danced last night.

David: Yes, we did. We danced fast!

Jennifer. Yes, we did. We listened to music, too.

David: Yes, we did. Did you like the music?

Jennifer. Yes, I liked it.

David: I did too. People looked at us.

Jennifer: Who looked at us?

David: Some people looked at us.

Jennifer: Yes, they did. Did those people want to dance fast too?

David.  Yes, they wanted to dance fast too.

David: Those people did not dance fast.

Jennifer: No, they didn't. – We danced fast.

David: I am tired today.

Jennifer: Me too.

Now that we know how the simple past tense works, let us take a closer look at the sentences in the dialog.  At first, Jennifer says "We danced last night.". We notice that the "-ed" ending sounds like "t" because of the voiceless "s" sound (sound, not letter) which is at the end of the base word "dance.".  David agrees with Jennifer when he says "Yes, we did.". He could have said "Yes, we danced last night." but the short form works because they both know what they are referring to – "danced".

The process is repeated when David says "We danced fast", and Jennifer agrees by saying "Yes, we did.".In this case, Jennifer might have said "Yes, we danced fast.". Then Jennifer says "We listened to music too.". We notice that the "-ed" at the end of the verb sounds like "-d" because of the voiced "n" which is at the end of the base word "listen". David agrees by saying "Yes, we did.". We notice that the meaning of "Yes, we did" changes in accordance to the preceding sentence. In this case, it means "Yes, we listened to music too.".

David asks "Did you like the music?". We see that the formation of the simple past tense question works just like question formation with "do". There is only one simple past tense question word. "did". Jennifer answers by saying, "Yes, I liked it.". We notice that the "-ed" sounds like "t" because of the voiceless "k" sound at the end of the base word "like".  David agrees by saying "I did too.". Notice that this same expression has changed meaning again. This time it means "I liked it too.".

David says "People looked at us." which means (translate sentence): People looked at us. We notice that the "-ed" sounds like "t" because of the voiceless "k" sound at the end of the base word "look". Jennifer asks "Who looked at us?". Notice that the question formation with the question word "who" does not require the insertion of the auxiliary verb "did".

Jennifer asks "Did those people want to dance fast too?" which means (translate sentence) Did those people want to dance fast too? In the response, "Yes, they wanted to dance fast too," we notice the third pronunciation of the "-ed" at the end of the base verb. In this case, we notice that the "-ed" sounds like "id" because the base word "want" ends with either "t" or "d", in this case "t".

In the next sentence, David says  "Those people did not dance fast.".We see how to negate a sentence in the simple past tense. We insert "not" after the auxiliary verb "did".  Jennifer agrees by saying "No they didn't.".  Jennifer might also have said "No, those people did not dance fast.".
Listen to the dialog again.

Jennifer:  We danced last night.

David: Yes, we did. We danced fast!

Jennifer. Yes, we did. We listened to music, too.

David: Yes, we did. Did you like the music?

Jennifer. Yes, I liked it.

David: I did too. People looked at us.

Jennifer: Who looked at us?

David: Some people looked at us.

Jennifer: Yes, they did. Did those people want to dance fast too?

David.  Yes, they wanted to dance fast too.

David: Those people did not dance fast.

Jennifer: No, they didn't. – We danced fast.

David: I am tired today.

Jennifer: Me too.

Great! Now that you know how to use the simple past tense, you will have much more to discuss in English!