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From Teflpedia

A preterite (/ˈpretərət/) is the finite verb form used in the past tense in English (and related languages).

Form[edit | edit source]

The preterite is a finite verb form, that is, a preterite must have a subject.

Most verb lemmata have preterites; it’s easiest to list the exceptions, which include the modal verbs must and ought, and beware (which is just plain odd).

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?.

Native speakers often do this with used to, e.g. *Did you used to…?