Tiempo pasado indefinido: reglas, usos y consejos

Tiempo pasado indefinido: reglas, usos y consejos

La mayoría de nuestras conversaciones están incompletas sin usar el tiempo pasado indefinido. Y si eres una chica, probablemente esto sea más cierto.

¿Por qué lo digo? ¿Por qué es vital usar el pasado indefinido en el idioma inglés?

La mayoría de nuestras conversaciones están casi incompletas sin chismear sobre el pasado de alguien, narrar una historia o simplemente hablar sobre un evento pasado. Y es por eso que necesitamos este tiempo.

When to use the Past indefinite tense?

Definición de tiempo pasado indefinido: el tiempo pasado indefinido, también conocido como tiempo pasado simple, se usa para hablar sobre acciones que ocurrieron en el pasado en un momento específico.

Recuerde siempre que el tiempo de la acción, si aún no se entiende, debe mencionarse ya que es una faceta importante del tiempo pasado indefinido.

La palabra que habla del tiempo pasado se llama marcador de tiempo pasado. Estos son algunos marcadores de tiempo comunes:

Yesterday, last night, last week, last month, last year, last summer, last season, last decade, last quarter, last night, that day, that night, etc.

The Past Indefinite tense examples

  • She proposed me last night.
  • One of my school friends had an accident last week.
  • I woke up at 5 a.m.
  • Jim died in a car accident last year.
  • We went to see him yesterday.
  • He said a lot of mean things to me in that meeting.
  • We did not say anything to him. He looked out of his mind.
  • Why did you call me yesterday?
  • What did you have last night?

NOTA: evite mencionar el tiempo de la acción si la persona o personas con las que se está comunicando ya lo entienden.

Mira la siguiente conversación para entender el contexto:

Mom: Where did you go last night?
Me: I went to Jim’s place.

Mom: What did you guys do after I left?
Me: We worked on a project together and discussed some things.

Fíjate, la conversación es sobre un momento particular en el pasado que es “anoche”. En la primera oración, se menciona el marcador de tiempo pasado, por lo que no necesitamos usarlo una y otra vez, y no lo hicimos.

Ahora, antes de ver diferentes situaciones en las que usamos el tiempo pasado indefinido, veamos cómo formar oraciones en tiempo pasado indefinido.

The Past Indefinite tense structure

¡Veamos las reglas del pasado indefinido ahora!

1. Affirmative sentence

Subject V2 object/modifier (optional) past time marker


  • They insulted me in that meeting.
  • My students played a prank on me in the previous class.
  • She called me 15 times last night.

2. Negative sentences

Subject did + not V1 object/modifier (optional) past time marker


  • They did not insult me in that meeting.
  • My students didn’t play a prank on me in the previous class.
  • She didn’t call me last night.

Didn’t = did not

3. Interrogative sentences
Use la siguiente estructura para hacer una pregunta que se pueda responder con SÍ o NO:

Did subject V1 object/modifier (optional) past time marker?


  • Did you call me last night?
  • Did you just touch me?
  • Did she just call you a moron?
  • Did they live with you?

All these questions can be answered in simple YES or NO. To know the details of the event happened, use the following WH question words before the auxiliary verb (DID): what, when, where, why, how

WH question word did subject V1 object/modifier (optional) past time marker?


  • When did you call me?
  • Why did you just touch me?
  • What did he eat with you in the party?
  • How did you do that?
  • Where did they live with you?

NOTA: use ‘NOT’ después del sujeto para formar una oración negativa interrogativa. Pero evite hacer preguntas negativas, ya que confunden a las personas en cuanto a si la respuesta debe ser positiva o negativa.

Aquí hay un ejemplo de una oración negativa interrogativa en tiempo pasado indefinido:

  • Did you not eat my sandwich?
  • Wasn’t it confusing to answer?

Ahora, hablemos de los diferentes usos del tiempo pasado indefinido.

The Past Indefinite tense usages

1. To talk about actions happened at a particular time in the past
La forma más común de usar el pasado indefinido es para hablar de acciones que ocurrieron en un momento particular del pasado. Aquí hay algunos ejemplos para demostración:

  • She came to see me last night.
  • We went shopping in the morning.
  • Did you talk to him yesterday?
  • Everybody supported me in that meeting.

2. A series of completed actions
Si una serie de acciones ocurrieron en un momento particular en el pasado, use el tiempo pasado indefinido para hablar de ello.

  • Last night, he walked into my room, woke me up, and took me somewhere with him.
  • After reaching there in the morning, we checked in to the hotel, got into our room, had breakfast, and went shopping.
  • Yesterday, after the class, we closed the door, turned the music on, and started dancing like no one was there in the college.

3. Repeated actions/habits in the past
Si una acción ocurrió varias veces en el pasado, use el tiempo pasado indefinido para hablar sobre ella.

  • We never attended his class, we always bunked it.
  • Jon worked at a hotel after school.
  • I played cricket when I was in college.
  • She played the guitar in school.

4. To describe something or someone
Otro uso común del tiempo pasado indefinido es describir a alguien o algo en el pasado. Estos son los ejemplos que lo demuestran:

  • He was sad last night.
  • They were very mean to me in school.
  • She was not happy in the meeting.
  • The movie was spine-chilling.
  • The food was scrumptious.
  • Last night, the weather was extremely pleasant.
  • You were my friend last night.

Structure: Subject + was/were + adjective/noun

Singular subject = was
Plural subject = were

5. To talk about the completed action and its duration in the past
Si una acción sucedió durante un período de tiempo en el pasado, use el tiempo pasado indefinido para hablar de ello.

  • I lived in Japan for 5 years.
  • Last night, we danced for hours.
  • Riya and I talked on the phone for an hour.
  • Everyone waited for you at the stand for some hours.
  • Max studied Chinese for 4 years.

6. To talk about something that happened a few moments ago (extremely close to the present)
Veamos algunas conversaciones para entender el uso.

Situation 1:

Arun: Hey, Jon. Somebody is calling you a moron.
Jon to the crowd: Hey, who called a moron? Then goes a guy in the red coat says: Was it you who called me a moron?
The guy: No, I didn’t do it.

Situation 2:

You are eating some fish chips and mashed potatoes at a restaurant. You go to the loo, leaving your food on your table. You come back and see the number of chips isn’t the same. It is less than what you left. You feel someone just ate it.

Then you shout to the crowd: Who ate my chips? “Did you eat my chips?”, you say to a group of people sitting at table number 5. We didn’t touch my chips. Why would we?! We have our own food to eat.

Notice in both the situations, the speaker (at the end) uses the simple past tense without mentioning the time of the action as the time is just now: very close to the present

Use of adverbs in the Past Indefinite tense

Los adverbios como solo, recientemente, nunca se colocan justo después del sujeto.


  • I just called her.
  • I never played cricket in school.
  • Jon recently bought a car.

The Past Indefinite tense active and passive voice

  • I bought a car last night. (active)
  • A car was bought last night (by me). (passive)
  • She called me yesterday. (active)
  • I was called yesterday. (passive)
  • Did you finish the book last week? (active)
  • Was the book finished last week? (passive)
  • She baked some amazing cookies. (active)
  • Some amazing cookies were baked (by her). (passive)
ACTIVE STRUCTURE subject v2 object past time marker
PASSIVE STRUCTURE object was/were V3 (past participle) by the doer (optional)

CONSEJO: use la estructura pasiva del tiempo pasado indefinido cuando la acción sobre la que se actuó es más importante que quién la hizo. Y generalmente no mencionamos al autor de la acción en voz pasiva.

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