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The past simple tense

The past simple describes completed actions and past situations.


  • In this experiment, two plastics and one ceramic were investigated.
  • The results showed that both components were polymers.
  • He graduated from Monash in 1999.

NOTE: The time referred to must be clear; either specified: a year ago;from 1993 to 1995; throughout the 1980s or implied: early studies, in this experiment.

In academic writing, the past simple may be used to describe research conducted in the past if it is not strongly linked to the present situation.


  • Zhao and Hancock (1995b) proposed design rules for tear-out failure in steel connections.
  • The yield strength of steels was found by Davis (1992) to range from...

In report writing, past tense verbs may be used in the description of method.


  • The researchers surveyed twenty organisations...
  • The samples were tested under two different conditions.

They may also be used in the findings.


  • The survey revealed that...
  • Results showed that...

Fill in the blanks in the following sentences with the correct form of the verb. Then check your answers by clicking on the button Check answers next to each box.

  1. Cook (1995) (claim) that the solution (can) be improved by...
  2. Early studies by Blake and Iwaki (find) that...
  3. Haberditzl (show) that the velocity of many enzyme reactions (be slowed down) if the end product (have) an increased paramagnetism.
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