Use Simple past Tense to Tell a Story

Birthday Fun

On my last birthday, I took the day off from work. My mom took me out for breakfast. Soon after, I went to the electronics store with my dad because he and I like to look at computers and other technology. Then I went to lunch with my sister-in-law. After that, my niece and I went to the pet store because we both love animals. Finally, my whole family ate a big dinner and one of my favorite cakes at my house. It was a wonderful birthday with some of my favorite people. What did you do on your last birthday?

Telling Stories with Past Tense

Why did I write all about my last birthday? Because I wanted to demonstrate another common use of past tense. We often use past tense in English to tell a story. Sometimes, like in my little story, we only use past simple.

Stories are Useful

Stories are a good way to help someone understand how we live. They can help people to understand our cultures, our family life, and many other things. When the stories are about past events, we need the past simple tense to help others understand that the story we are telling is in the past; not the present, not the future, but in the past.

On my last birthday, I took the day off from work.

It was a wonderful birthday with some of my favorite people.

Organizing Stories

Of course, when we tell a story, we need to organize it. Did you notice the words I used to help you understand that my story was moving from one event to the next?

Soon after, I went to the electronics store with my dad because he and I like to look at computers and other technology.

Then I went to lunch with my sister-in-law.

After that, my niece and I went to the pet store because we both love animals.

Finally, my whole family ate a big dinner and one of my favorite cakes at my house.

Using words like “soon after,” “then,” “after that,” “next,” and “finally” helps us to make it clear when our stories move from one moment or action to the next. These words can be used to show movement in present and future tenses too, so learning them is very useful.

Your Turn

Now it is your turn to practice. Write a comment and tell me a story. What did you do on your last birthday? Don’t forget to use past forms of verbs and words to show the movement of your story.

  • Mateus Brum

    On my last vacations, I went to a beach in my country called “Praia do Sono”.I spent a whole week in that paradise with my girlfriend, the most time we played a lot in the sea, but there was days that we went trekking into the wild forest.

  • Very cool. I’m glad you had such a wonderful birthday.

  • Yeldos

    On my last birthday, I did not take the day off from work. It was not necessary, because it was Sunday. I took all my family to the mountain for skiing. First we took snowboard for rent. Then we bought the tickets for cable-way. We had reached the top of mountain by cable-way, view was wonderful. We took a picture with whole family. After that, we started skiing on the snowboard from mountain. Finally we celebrated my birthday in a restaurant, which is located on the top of the mountain. It was a wonderful birthday with my lovely family.