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What is The Past Tense of Pay

The verb “pay” is not just a useful verb for learners to master, but it’s also a word that many people like to hear, especially when they are on the receiving end of payment.

Similar to other common verbs like ‘make’, the word “pay” can be used both as a stand-alone verb and as part of a phrasal verb. Its most common definition, however, refers to the act of offering money or other currency in return for goods or services.

The past tense of “pay” is ‘paid’ and the past participle is ‘paid’.

What is the past tense of “pay”?

Pay (verb):

(1) To offer money due in exchange for goods, services, or another debt incurred

(2) To suffer loss as a result of some misfortune or bad consequence

  • Infinitive                     to pay
  • Simple Past                 paid
  • Past Participle             paid

Conjugation Table of “pay”?

 PronounInfinitiveSimple PastPresent PerfectPresent Continuous
Ipaypaidhave paidam paying
You (sing.)paypaidhave paidare paying
He/She/Itpayspaidhas paidis paying
Wepaypaidhave paidare paying
You (pl.)paypaidhave paidare paying
Theypaypaidhave paidare paying

Example Sentences of “pay”?

(1) To offer money due in exchange for goods, services, or another debt incurred

  • She very generously paid for our meal
  • I paid the vendor what they asked, but I still think it was a little expensive
  • It’s important to pay your utility bills on time, otherwise they may cut you off

(2) To suffer loss as a result of some misfortune or bad consequence

  • If you don’t do the training first, you might pay for it later with bad results
  • He paid the price for his terrible impatience
  • You will pay for this!
What is the past tense of “pay”?

Focus: Past Tense of Pay

While the past tense and past participle forms are the same, it can still be tricky to use “pay” correctly in different situations describing the past. To help learners master the various methods of using “pay” in the past, we’ve prepared some example sentences below that show its broad usage. Tenses used include:

  • Simple past
  • Present perfect
  • Past continuous
  • Past perfect

Simple Past of “pay”?

  • He paid for his new car using a credit card
  • They paid a huge price for building on the land without permission
  • We couldn’t pay for it all at once, so we decided to pay in installments instead

Present Perfect of “pay”?

  • She has paid for her son’s school tuition by herself for many years already, but now is struggling
  • I have paid the bill already, so we can leave whenever you’re ready
  • If you buy those shoes with your credit card, then you haven’t really paid for them yet, but you’ll be paying for them for weeks or months to come

Past Continuous of “pay”?

  • I was paying the cashier when the robbers suddenly burst in
  • She was paying for that mistake for many years after it happened, but things are better now

Past Perfect of “pay”?

  • I thought you had paid the bill! You didn’t? Then we have to go back there
  • They had paid for their plane tickets already when they saw a cheaper deal online

Understanding the Verb “Pay”

Originating from the Latin “pacare,” meaning “to please, pacify, satisfy,” “pay” primarily refers to giving money for goods, services, or debts.

Phrasal Verbs with “Pay”

“Pay” is an integral part of several phrasal verbs:

  • Pay off: To finish paying what is owed, or to result in a benefit.
    • His hard work paid off when he got a promotion.
  • Pay back: To return borrowed money or take revenge.
    • I’ll pay you back next week.

Nuances in Usage

  • “Pay vs. Compensate”: “Compensate” often has a formal connotation, and can refer to more than just money.
    • He paid for the damages. vs. He was compensated for his injuries.

Common Mistakes

Common pitfalls with “pay”:

Incorrect: He pays his debts yesterday.

Correct: He paid his debts yesterday.

We also have a full list of irregular verbs from A – Z on the site which you can access from the link here.

You can check other past tense words and our past tense resources by clicking on the links in the table below and in the resource list below that.

Table 2: Table of Links for irregular Past Tense Verbs

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We also have articles and worksheets which we will link examples of below, and if you need more you can try the search box.

I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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