From Teflpedia

A preterite (/ˈpretərət/) is the finite verb form used in the past tense in English (and related languages) either (1) as a main verb in the absence of an auxiliary verb or (2) as an auxiliary verb itself.

Form[edit | edit source]

The preterite is always a finite verb form, that is it must have a subject. Full modal verbs (which lack non-finite forms) have preterites, e.g. "could" is the preterite of "can".

The preterite of a regular verb is formed by adding -ed (with miscellaneous spelling changes). For example, the preterite of "want" is "wanted".

For irregular verbs, the preterite may be identical to the base form (e.g. cast), or there might be a vowel change. When listing the forms of an irregular verb, it is customary to list the preterite second, between the base form and the past participle, e.g. "give + gave + given."

The preterite is not used with auxiliary do (preterite: did); rather a bare infinitive is used instead, as a second grammatical marker is not necessary. e.g. "I ate a sandwich" = "I did eat a sandwich".

Pedagogy[edit | edit source]

EFL learners may try to use the preterite with auxiliary do and produced sentences like *Did you ate the sandwich?.