Past tense of to teach

Have you ever thought about what the past tense of the word teach is? Do you have difficulty in pronouncing it or applying it to everyday conversation? If yes, then read this handy guide on what the past tense of teach is and how to use it. You’ll pick it up in no time.

Are you ready to start? Let’s go.

teach
A teacher in her classroom.

What does teach mean?

Teach, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, means to help someone learn something by giving information about it. It is the present simple form.

Take for instance your teacher at school or professor at university. They teach you things.

When used in its Present Simple, teach has two forms – teach and teaches.

We use teach when we use the subjects I, you, we, they.

I teach Steven how to play the guitar.

They teach your sister volleyball.

When you use it in the third person singular (he, she, it), you add es to the end, like in these examples.

He teaches children maths every Saturday.

She teaches adults English.

The pronunciation of teach is tiːtʃ and the pronunciation of teaches is tiːʧɪz.

Now we have clarified that, do you feel ready to learn more about its past form?

The past of teach

The past of teach is taught. Teach is an irregular verb and because of that, so is its past form. In writing, it has the letter g in it. But we all know by now that when you write something in English, it is not necessarily how you say it.

We pronounce the word taught like this: tɔːt

You have to imagine it has an ort at the end of it rather than an aught.

It is also important to remember that irregular verbs do not end in ed so you should never say teached. This is incorrect.

Taught is used in Past Simple sentences, Present Perfect sentences and Past Perfect sentences. It is used as the Past simple verb and the Past Participle. Let’s take a closer look at some examples below.

Past Simple and taught

As mentioned above, the past form of teach is taught. We use it for things that people teach us in the past. For example:

I taught Matthew how to ride a scooter.

My father taught me a lot of French words.

His grandfather taught him to knit.

Remember, when we are using taught in the past in a negative sentence we use this formula:

subject + didn’t + teach .

The base form makes an appearance here rather than taught. For example:

I didn’t teach Matthew that word; John did.

Mrs Myers didn’t teach Bev Latin; my sister Helen did.

When using a negative sentence in the past simple form, always use the base verb.

Present Perfect and taught

The past participle of teach is taught so naturally, we use it in the Present Perfect tense too.

The formula for affirmative sentences is this: subject + have/has + taught.

I have taught him the alphabet.

She has taught him since she was three.

The formula for negative sentences is: subject + haven’t/hasn’t +taught.

I haven’t taught them piano.

Charlotte hasn’t taught her dogs well.

When we use the perfect tenses in a negative form, we do not transform the past participle back to the base verb as with the past simple.

Past Perfect and taught

The same rules for using taught apply in Past Perfect tense as the Present Perfect tense. We do not use the base verb teach in a negative sentence, and we use it after the verb had.

For affirmative sentences, we use this formula: subject + had + taught.

He had taught me Mandarin.

They had taught Peter how to fly a kite.

For negative sentences, we use this: subject + hadn’t + taught.

I hadn’t taught Mary before.

We hadn’t taught Phil.

Take 5: Can you think of any examples with taught? Write them in the comments below.

Need more help with irregular verbs? Watch this video