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