Past Simple: Form

From Teflpedia

(See also Past Simple)
For the past simple of regular verbs we use the second form of the verb, which is constructed from the first form plus –ed for all persons:

I rented a car, Bruce seemed happy, They worked hard.

A number of verbs have irregular second forms, for example: have – had, lead – led, put - put. These simply have to be learnt. Be, uniquely, has two forms: I/he was and we/you/they were.


The -ed ending becomes simply –d after verbs ending in –e: hire – hired, free – freed, hoe – hoed

Verbs ending in –y following a consonant change the –y to –i and add -ed, but if the word-final –y follows a vowel/diphthong sound, we simply add –ed:

carried, tried but: played, employed

Verbs ending in a single consonant letter (except –w, –x , -c or -l ) following a single vowel letter in a stressed syllable double that final consonant before adding –ed; compound words containing such verbs do the same:

robbed, knitted, referred, handbagged but revealed, rowed, boxed

Verbs ending in –c add -k rather than doubling the –c: picnicked, panicked.

In BrE, word-final –l is always doubled after a short vowel sound, even in unstressed syllables: levelled, travelled, cancelled

In verbs with a final unstressed syllable ending in –s, some writers double the final –s of the first form before adding the –ed; this is optional: biased or biassed, focused or focussed

There is no doubling when the final syllable is unstressed except as noted above: happened, bothered, visited However, a few verbs double the final consonant even if the final syllable is unstressed, perhaps because the final syllable exists as a single-syllable (hence stressed) verb, even if the polysyllabic verb is not actually a compound: programmed, handicapped, hiccupped, kidnapped, worshipped.


(see also Past tense pronunciation)

The final –(e)d of this form is pronounced: /t/ after unvoiced consonants except /t: /kɪkt, stɒpt, kɒft/

/d/ after voiced consonants except /d/, vowels and diphthongs: /hʌgd, lɪvd, friːd, pleɪd/

/ɪd/ (or /əd/) after /t, d/: /wɒntɪd, wɒntǝd; niːdɪd, niːdǝd/

Negative forms (with not)[edit]

Did (the second form of the primary verb do) is used all full verbs except be (and, for a very small number of speakers, have:

I worked – I did not/didn’t work, he worked – he did not/didn’t work

Whether contracted or not in writing, did not is usually elided in speech, except in formal oratory or for emphasis. The final /t/ is often not fully exploded before consonants:

[hiːdɪdǝntwɜːk, hiːdɪdn̩twɜːk] [hiːdɪdǝntθɪŋk, hiːdɪdn̩tθɪŋk, hiːdɪdn̩ʔθɪŋk]

Interrogative forms (with S-V inversion)[edit]

Did (the second form of the primary verb do) is used with all full verbs except be (and, for a very small number of speakers, have:

we work – did we work? she worked – did she work? There may be assimilation: did you work? /dɪd juː ˈwɜːk, dɪdjəˈwɜːk, dɪdʒǝˈwɜːk, dʒǝˈwɜːk/

Interrogative-negative forms[edit]

Except in formal speech and writing, the contracted form didn’t is used in negative questions:

Didn’t you work there any more? (Did you not work there any more?).


In speech, did is always stressed: I did like those shoes. Lindsay did work hard.

Dummy forms[edit]

Did is used as a ‘dummy’ verb to replace the full verb in:

Question tags
He worked hard, didn’t he?
Short answers
Did you like it here?
Yes, I did. / No, I didn’t.
Contracted questions
Mary liked living in Germany.
Did Alan?
Contracted follow-up questions
I really liked living in Prague. Did you?
(Dis)agreement comments
She looked smart yesterday.
Yes she did. / No, she didn’t.