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St Gabriel’s Roman Catholic Primary School


Understanding and using verbs in the past tense

Why is this important?
Developing the grammatical structures relating to past tense allows children to talk about an event that has happened in the past and contrast this with the here and now. This increases the range of language use and also allows children to talk about things outside the here and now.

What to do

  • To elicit past tense, try:
  • After playtime/lunchtime, ask the child who he/she played with and what he/she ate, etc.
  • When playing with toys (e.g. in home corner or with the farm), ask what food the child made for dinner or what the farmer fed the cows, etc.
  • Tell a simple story and ask the child to use the pictures to retell the story using the past tense.
  • Play ‘Simon Says’. When the child has performed the action, ask:

Adult: ‘What did you do?’

Child: ‘Jumped/danced/ hopped’, etc.

  • Use everyday situations to elicit past tense forms (e.g. a train goes past, a child falls over). Ask ‘What happened?’