TalkEnglish Logo

Yesterday - The Past - General Statements

In daily conversation, talking about the past is done very frequently.  Whenever you meet a friend, you always tell each other what you have been doing recently.  Friends are always interested in each other so they want to know how you have been spending your time in the past.

Today's lesson is going to target past tense communication.  This goes hand in hand with the last two lessons and changing a few words around can make a future or present tense sentence into a past tense sentence.

To begin, here are a couple of sentences that are common to say:

"I went to the airport yesterday."
"I met Bob last week."
"I was an hour late for my meeting."
"I went to the bus stop, but I was 30 seconds late.  A person on the street told me the bus just went by."
"I completed that task this morning."

Speaking in the past requires past tense words.  Let's take a closer examination for the sentences above.

                                                   
Past TensePresent TenseFuture Tense
WentGoGoing to go
MetMeetWill meet
WasAmGoing to be
CompletedCompleteWill complete
 
As you can see by some of the examples in the chart, some words change when speaking in the past tense.

Besides some words that change, many times a word with the letter 'd' or 'ed' at the end changes the word to past tense.  Here are some examples:

"I was being polite so I opened the door for him."
"I stapled the papers together to keep them organized."
"The paper ripped on the bottom, so I taped them together."
"I switched the presents around because I found out Jane doesn't like red lipstick."
"I was very interested in the topic so I paid close attention."

The tricky part is to know when to add a 'd' to the end of a word to make it past tense.  There are exceptions that can cause confusion, for example,

"I rode my bike to school."  It would be incorrect to say, 'I rided...'
"I built the house from scratch."  Incorrect way is to say, 'I builded...'
"I sat on the chair next to the emergency exit."  Incorrect way is to say, 'sitted...'

So remember to use past tense words correctly or the other person might not understand what you are saying.

Apprenez l'anglais bien PLUS RAPIDEMENT en téléchargeant la version hors ligne de TalkEnglish et impreignez-vous de l'anglais grâce à 8 000 fichiers audio et à plus de 800 pages de leçons !  Vous pourrez alors étudier sans besoin de connexion Internet et écouter à tout moment les fichiers audio sur votre lecteur MP3.  Rendez-vous à la page English Download et téléchargez dès aujourd'hui !