Hi everyone! I’m Abbe from MosaLingua. Welcome back to our series of English grammar hacks. There comes a time when you need to be able to speak about events that have already happened. That’s why today I’m going to tell you about how to talk about the past in English, the easy way.

past in English

Talking about the past in English | ENGLISH GRAMMAR HACKS (Video)

Talking about the past in English | ENGLISH GRAMMAR HACKS (Transcript)

Let’s start with an example: “I travel to Spain every year”. This is a statement about my habits which indicate with the words “every year”. So I can use the simple present. Easy enough! “Last year I traveled to Spain”. This is a statement about something that I did in the past. “Last year” to be precise, so I need to use the simple past. What do you notice about the present “travel” and the past “traveled”? As you can see by simply adding -ed to the end of the present form of travel I made the statement in the past.

This is the past simple tense, and it really is simple. Add -ed to the end of most verbs in the present, and you’re done! Take a look at some more examples: “Yesterday I watched TV all day long” “Last week I played with my friends”. This works for the vast majority of English verbs. However you may be aware that in English there are several irregular verbs. For example: “go” becomes “went” in the past instead of “goed”, and “eat” becomes “ate” in the past instead of “eated” But no worries because in an upcoming video I’ll explain how to master the irregular verbs in no time.

Another way to talk about the past is with the present perfect. It is used to talk about something that happened in the past and is still happening in this moment in the present, or had an effect on the present. This tense often gives English learners some difficulty, But I have good news for you: in American English you can nearly always replace this tense with the past simple. Let me give you an example:”I arrive at a party and someone asks me if I would like a sandwich”. If the party is in England, I would say: “No thank you, I have already eaten”. In America, even if I already ate before I came, I would still accept the sandwich! Just kidding. In America, I could decline by saying: “No thanks, I already ate”. Here, in American English it feels much more natural to use the past simple “ate” rather than the present perfect “have eaten”, and it’s much more simple to construct.

That’s all for today! Subscribe to our channel so that you don’t miss out on any of the other English language hacks or our other great videos! And if you have a question about what we covered today, leave us a comment below. Happy learning and see you next time!


If you’d prefer a hands-free experience, head on over to the MosaLingua Language Lab podcast:

Listen to “#11 – Talking About The Past In English” on Spreaker.