Teaching the Past Simple – Int. and Neg. Forms

My last post dealt with the Past Simple and it's time we discussed the Interrogative and Negative Forms.

The structure of questions in English is problematic for the Israeli students since they tend to translate from Hebrew. In Hebrew we can ask a question by simply changing the intonation:

אנחנו הולכים הביתה. (צורה חיובית)

אתם הולכים הביתה? (צורת שאלה)

In English , however, the Interrogative Form has a special structure. Students have to remember the helping verb DO in the Pastdid. What is even more problematic is for them to remember to use the Base form of the verb since did already indicates the Past.

Students can practice these structures by acting out role-plays in which they ask their partner about what he did during the weekend or in the summer. If we have a student who was not born in Israel, we could have another student asking him about his aliya, etc.

After practicing the Interrogative and Negative structures, it's time to deal with the main issue:

When do we use this tense?

This question is particularly important for the Hebrew speaking student since there are various tenses referring to the Past in English.

I think that the simplest way to explain when we use the Past Simple is:

We use the Past Simple for an action that happened in the Past (began and ended in the Past) and there is an answer to the question when the action happened.

I saw an accident yesterday.

I saw an accident on my way home.

Question: When did you see the accident?

Answer: yesterday or while I was walking home.

And that's all for today.

We will discuss the Past Progressive in my next post.

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