Passé simple

Fonctions du passé simple en anglais

Le passé simple est utilisé pour parler d'une action terminée à un moment antérieur à l'instant présent. La durée n'a pas d'importance. Le temps de l'action peut se situer dans un passé récent ou lointain.

Exemples
  • John Cabot sailed to America in 1498.
  • My father died last year.
  • He lived in Fiji in 1976.
  • We crossed the Channel yesterday.

On utilise toujours le passé simple pour indiquer à quel moment un évènement a eu lieu, il est donc associé à certaines expressions de temps dans le passé.

  • Fréquence: often, sometimes, always
    I sometimes walked home at lunchtime.
    I often brought my lunch to school.
  • A un moment précis dans le passé: last week, when I was a child, yesterday, six weeks ago
    We saw a good film last week.
    Yesterday, I arrived in Geneva.
    She finished her work atseven o'clock
    I went to the theatre last night
  • A un moment indéfini dans le passé: the other day, ages ago, a long time ago People lived in caves a long time ago.
    She played the piano when she was a child.

Remarque: le mot ago est un moyen utile d'exprimer l'éloignement dans le passé. Il se place après la période de temps, par exemple: a week ago, three years ago, a minute ago.

Attention: Le passé simple en anglais peut ressembler au passé simple en français, mais sa signification est différente.

Former le passé simple en anglais

Passé simple avec des verbes réguliers
Affirmative
Sujet + verbe + ed  
I skipped.  
Négative
Sujet + did not + infinitif sans to
They didn't go.
Interrogative
Did + sujet + infinitif sans to
Did she arrive?
Interrogative négative
Did not + sujet + infinitif sans to
Didn't you play?
To Walk
Affirmative Négative Interrogative
I walked I didn't walk Did I walk?
You walked You didn't walk Did you walk?
He walked He didn't walk Did he walk?
We walked We didn't walk Did we walk?
They walked They didn't walk Did they walk?
Passé simple de to be, to have, to do
Sujet Verbe
  Be Have Do
I was had did
You were had did
He/She/It was had did
We were had did
You were had did
They were had did

Remarques sur les formes affirmatives, négatives, et interrogatives

Affirmative

L'affirmative du passé simple est simple.

  • I was in Japan last year.
  • She had a headache yesterday.
  • We did our homework last night.
Négative et interrogative

Pour la forme négative et interrogative de "do" au passé simple, en tant que verbe ordinaire, il faut utiliser l’auxiliaire "do", par exemple: We didn't do our homework last night. La forme négative de "have" au passé simple se construit habituellement en utilisant l’auxiliaire "do", mais parfois simplement en ajoutant not ou la contraction "n't".

La forme interrogative de "have" au passé simple, on utilise normalement l’auxiliaire "do".

Exemples
  • They weren't in Rio last summer.
  • We didn't have any money.
  • We didn't have time to visit the Eiffel Tower.
  • We didn't do our exercises this morning.
  • Were they in Iceland last January?
  • Did you have a bicycle when you were young?
  • Did you do much climbing in Switzerland?

Remarque: Pour la forme négative et interrogative de tous les verbes au passé simple, il faut toujours utiliser l'auxiliaire 'did''.

Passé simple, verbes irréguliers

Certains verbes sont irréguliers au passé simple. Voici les plus communs.

to go
  • He went to a club last night.
  • Did he go to the cinema last night?
  • He didn't go to bed early last night.
to give
  • We gave her a doll for her birthday.
  • They didn't give John their new address.
  • Did Barry give you my passport?
to come
  • My parents came to visit me last July.
  • We didn't come because it was raining.
  • Did he come to your party last week?