We use the past tense to talk about:
- something that happened once in the past:
I met my wife in 1983.
We went to Spain for our holidays.
They got home very late last night.
- something that happened again and again in the past:
When I was a boy I walked a mile to school every day.
We swam a lot while we were on holiday.
They always enjoyed visiting their friends.
- something that was true for some time in the past:
I lived abroad for ten years.
He enjoyed being a student.
She played a lot of tennis when she was younger.
- we often use phrases with ago with the past tense:
I met my wife a long time ago.
Questions and negatives
We use did to make questions with the past tense:
When did you meet your wife?
Where did you go for your holidays?
Did she play tennis when she was younger?
Did you live abroad?
But look at these questions:
Who discovered penicillin?
Who wrote Don Quixote?
For more on these questions see question forms
We use didn’t (did not) to make negatives with the past tense:
They didn’t go to Spain this year.
We didn’t get home until very late last night.
I didn’t see you yesterday.
Source: British Council English Grammar
Last edited: 14/05/2015