Past Simple - Uses

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This is a practical oversimplification which will be right most of the time. For more detailed information see Mastery of the Tenses!
Main Uses for the Past Simple
For describing finished time
  • I saw you yesterday, you looked very happy.
  • I told you 2 minutes ago!
  • She worked very hard last year and she passed all her exams.
For interrupting past actions.
  • The phone rang while I was cooking.
  • The cat ran across me as I was driving.
Past Simple in IF structures
For Second Conditionals, IF clause
  • If I were you, I would...
  • If she had more time, she would...
  • If they won the lottery, they would...

Test Your Knowledge!


What tense do we normally use for interrupting other past actions?

Name the use!

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The Past Simple


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The cat ran across me as I was driving.


Practice Your Knowledge!