Be used to
Few and Little
Get Used To
Have and Have Got
Lend and Borrow
Past Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect Simple
Present Perfect Continuous
Present Perfect Simple
Say and Tell
Small and Little
So and Such
Too and Enough
Will and Going to
Regular verbs: verb + d or ed
Irregular verbs: see list of irregular verbs
(See the phonemic chart for IPA symbols used below)
With regular verbs, the pronunciation of the d or ed ending depends on the last phoneme of the verb.
I first make statements in the present using a weekly schedule, then I tell students what I did last week.
She goes to the movies on Fridays.
She went to the movies last Friday
Did she go to the movies last Friday?
Yes, she did. Or Yes, she went to the movies last Friday.
Did she go to the movies last Thursday?
No, she didn't. Or No, she didn't go to the movies last Thursday.
When did she go to the movies?
She went to the movies last Friday.
I play a game called "You did it!" In this game, I pretend to accuse students of doing miscellaneous naughty
acts and ask them to defend themselves. For example:
T: You STOLE my cell phone!
S: No, I didn't STEAL your cell phone.
T: You ATE my cookie!
S: No, I didn't EAT your cookie.
This works best with irregular verbs. A brainstorming of irregular verbs and a simple review of past tense verbs using the did + ___ construction would precede the playing of this little game.
Another way I practice is by asking them about past events using did + ____ questions. I try to ask ridiculous questions so they will answer in the negative and practice using the correct verb conjugations. For example:
T: Where did you GO last summer?
S: I WENT to Mexico.
T: Did you EAT spaghetti there?
S: No, I ATE tacos, pozole, enchiladas, etc.
T: What kinds of animals did you SEE there?
S: I SAW chickens, donkeys, horses, and dogs.
I show colorful pictures from a book with a well known story like Hansel and Gretel. The students take turns telling the story.
'Tic-tac-toe' is a very good idea to practice the simple past in a funny and quite 'free' way. You divide the
class in two groups (one is X the other is O) and then stick or draw the game on
the board. Put verbs in the infinitive form with a question mark, a plus or a
minus depending on whether you want your students to form interrogative,
affirmative or negative sentences. This activity is a very good one to give your
students a purpose to practice the form of the past simple. They will feel the need to choose and respond correctly in order to make tic-tac-toe.
One of the resources I use to reinforce the past tense is the song Return to Sender by Elvis
Presley. (with lyrics in the wrong order) First, students have to find the past
tense verbs, give me the infinitive and also the meaning in Spanish. We then
practice pronunciation of the verbs in infinitive and the past. And finally,
listen to the song and put the lyrics in the correct order. They have a lot of fun!
Word Search Puzzles are very effective. First, you give the students a list of 20 or 30 verbs and ask them to
write the past tense. Check if they did it correctly. Then, they have to search
the past tense of each verb in the puzzle! This activity helps a lot with
spelling and memory. Some students finish early, others have trouble finding them, but everybody loves it!
I think one of the best ways to practise irregular verbs is Bingo. I make students write all the verbs they
can remember on a piece of paper. Then, we distiguish the irregulars from
regulars. They tell me the past forms of the verbs and write them on the board.
Later, they prepare bingo cards for 10 words and tick the ones I say. It's also
good for pronounciation. First one who completes the card wins a coffee ;)
Best way to talk about the simple past is by having a discussion about dreams with your students. Tell them
a really over the top dream you had (if you didn't make it up!) and ask them to
listen to the key points of the dream whilst taking notes. Then ask them
questions about the dream, for example, did I eat a watermelon in the dream?
Then review the simple past tense regular and irregular verbs. Next write the
start of a dream on the board and have students continue, maybe give them a list of words they must use.
Another good idea is to draw two columns on the board - one side is for verbs and the other one is for nouns.
For ex: marry and elephant. Students need to make a sentence with these two
words giving the past form of the verb. Suzie married an elephant. This game
is very fun they will enjoy it a lot... good luck and keep writing down your ideas... thanks!
A good way to help students practice and remember Past Simple (verb form of irregular) is a pair card game.
Material: cards for irregular verbs, each pair consists of verb in base form and past simple form.
Divide students into groups of 4 or 5.
Each student in each group turns over two cards at a time. If the verbs go together, the student keeps them. If not, the cards remain where they were.
The person with the most pairs is the winner.
I like playing a game I call who was I? One student thinks about someone famous who has died and the
others ask him yes/no questions to try to find out who the person is. Example: "Was the person American? Was he a singer? Did he travel a lot?"
I ask my students to write several verbs (about 10) on the board. We revise the past simple of all these
verbs and then the students make up a story using all the verbs in past simple.
The first student starts with the first verb. The second one goes on with the
following verb and so on. They continue until there are no more verbs left.
Hand out to students the letters A-Z. Ask each one to think of a verb. Call out any letter of the
alphabet and ask the student with that letter to come to the board and write a
verb beginning with that letter. Call out the next letter. That student will
conjugate the previous verb into the past simple (or any other tense) and form a
sentence. That student will leave a verb beginning with his or her letter for
the next student. The game continues until the board is filled with a full board
of past simple verbs and sentences. Make sure to stress the pronounciation of
past simple verbs: the "ed" is pronounced only when the verb ends in "d" or "t."
If you have a good way of introducing or practising this grammar point, tell us about it here...
Try our grammar discussion forums for further help.
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