Remembering to Use the Simple Past when Speaking English

Updated: Jul 12

Using the Simple Past

Speaking in English is usually harder than writing in English for most learners. When you write, you have to remember all of the grammar rules that live in your mind. But speaking is in real-time, so sometimes we make mistakes without even knowing it.

This can happen with the simple past. Oftentimes, even advanced speakers think that they have used the simple past form of a verb, but, in reality, they haven’t. How can you tell if you are consistently remembering to switch verbs into the correct form of the simple past when speaking?

Record yourself.

By recording yourself while telling a story in the past tense, you can listen to yourself objectively to see if perhaps you forget to use the correct form sometimes.

How to Record Yourself While Storytelling

1. Think of an activity or event that happened to you recently - something interesting that you have some emotions about.

2. Go to the “voice memo” function on your phone.

3. Press record, and tell your story. This is the important part; don’t overthink it. Just talk. Talk like you would normally talk in English, and talk for at least 3-5 minutes. This will give you enough data to determine if you are having problems using the correct form of the verb.

4. Listen and analyze. Listen to yourself and note any verb tense mistakes you made during your recording. How consistently did you accurately use a past tense verb to tell your story? Be honest with yourself.