Why do we say, “John goes to the pawn shop today,” but “John went to the pawn shop yesterday?” Where does that come from?
German doesn’t have it. In the Krautic tongue, people say ich gehe, I go, and ich ginge, I went. The past ginge is in the same corral with the present gehe. So what happened to us?
Our Old English verb gan, to go, to walk, had two past tenses, depending on where you were and what century it was. One was based on a completely different verb: ic ga, I go; but ic eode, I went. That eode seems to be a kissin’ cousin of the Latinire, to go: cf. exit: he goes out. There was also a very old “reduplicative” past, common in Latin and Greek, rare in German, and almost entirely vanished from English: ic gengde, I g-go-ed, I went. Somewhere along the line people stopped understanding eode, because there wasn’t a present for it. It had been a bad boy that year—sorry. So they borrowed a past form from another verb. The verb wend was sauntering along, minding its own business, when the Linguistic Authorities whistled, “Hey kid, come over here. You got a past tense on you?” He did: went. Compare with send, sent; lend, lent; bend, bent.