USES OF SIMPLE PAST VERBS
by American English at State
for learners and teachers around the globe
1. COMPLETED ACTION IN THE PAST
Last week, I rode my bicycle to school.
I watched a movie yesterday. Last year, I went to New York.
The simple past verb form can be used with a duration which starts and ends in the past. A duration is a longer action often indicated by expressions such as: for five years, for two hours, all day, all year, etc.
2. DURATION IN THE PAST
I studied Japanese for three years.
3. HABITS IN THE PAST
The simple past verb form can also be used to describe a habit which stopped in the past. It can have the same meaning as "used to." We often add expressions such as: when I was a child, when I was younger, etc.
I played guitar when I was a child.
4. PAST FACTS OR GENERALIZATIONS
Similarly, the simple past verb form can be used to describe past facts or generalizations that are no longer true. This is quite similar to the meaning of "used to" and the use for #3.
People listened to radio shows much more 50 years ago than now.