English Tense: Past Indefinite
(Subject + II form of the Verb…)
In the Simple Past (Past Indefinite) Tense the second form of the Verb is used:
He came here yesterday.
They killed a robber.
You wrote a letter.
‘Did is used in the Interrogative and Negative sentences. Did is also used to lay emphasis. Only the first form of the Verb is used with ‘did’.
(i) In Interrogative Sentences [‘did is placed before the subject and verb in first form after it:
(Did + Subject + I form of the Verb… ?)
Did you show me your homework ?
Did she give you the message ?
(ii) In Negative Sentences [‘did not’ is put after the subject and first form of the verb is used thereafter:
(Subject + did + not + I form of the Verb…)
I did not apply for leave.
You did not attend the class.
Exception — I never told a lie.
(This sentence means—I did not ever tell a lie)
(iii) To lay emphasis
I did try to solve the question but was not able to solve it.
She did sing, but not with a will.
Uses of the Past Indefinite Tense
The Past Indefinite (Simple Past) Tense is used:
(a) To express an action completed in the past with reference to the time of speaking.
I saw many birds in the zoo.
You reached the school late (on) that day.
An accident took place in front of our house.
(b) To express habitual or regular action in the Past.
Quaid-e-Azam always spoke the truth.
I went out for a walk daily in the morning last year.
In those days my mother gave me some pocket money everyday.
The habitual past can also be expressed by using ‘used to’:
When I was a student I used to keep late hours.
He used to read a few pages of the Holy Quran everyday.
But ‘used to’ means that it happened in the past, now it does not happen. He used to smoke a lot.
(c) To express an event which occurred at a particular point in the Past.
She walked very slowly.
My father came back home yesterday.
(d) To express an action which occupied a period of time in the Past, which is now ended.
We lived in this house for ten years. (Do not live now) I stayed at the Green Hotel for two months.
(Not staying now)
(e) To express an action where some word, showing past action (yesterday, ago, last, etc.) is given in the sentence, as,
He received your message yesterday.
I passed the S.S.C. Examination last year.
Pakistan got freedom over six decades ago.
(f) To express two actions taking place simultaneously (at the same time):
While I sipped coffee, I revised my lesson.
While Salma sang, Rabia danced.
She watched the T.V. as well as knitted the sweater.
(g) To express two actions, where the first action leads instantly to the second action:
When he called her a flirt, she hit him.
When the circus show ended, the spectators stepped out.
When I opened the window, the bird flew out.
(h) When ‘when’ or ‘while’ is used in simple past tense, it indicates that both the actions took place in the same duration of time:
I played chess while he slept.
When we lived in Delhi, we often travelled by bus.
When I went to bed, the light went out.
(i) When ‘till’, ‘until’, ‘as soon as’, ‘before’ are used in simple past tense, they indicate that one action follows the other:
She waited for her mother till/until it got dark.
As soon as we bolted the door, some guests arrived.
(j) Verbs of ‘Knowing’, ‘Understanding’ etc. are generally used in Simple Past Tense in time clauses:
As soon as he understood his mistake he begged for excuse.
When he perceived his brother’s indifference, he left his house.