Past Tense



What is past tense?

The present tense is a verb tense used to illustrate past activity or action or state of being. For an example:

  • I was unhappy. ( past state of being)
  • He called me. (past activity)

There are four types of past tense :-
  1. Past Simple Tense.
  2. Past Continuous / Progressive Tense.
  3. Past Perfect Tense.
  4. Past Perfect Continuous / Progressive Tense.

Past Simple Tense


Structure of Past Simple Tense:

+ verb + d / ed
  • He worked for NGO.
  • I wanted a book.
- did not + verb (present form)
  • He did not work for NGO.
  • I did not want a book.
? did .... + verb (present form)?
  • Did he work for NGO ?
  • Did I want a book?

Where we use past simple tense?

  • We use past simple tense to talk about a single past completed activity. See the example below:
    • Afew days ago a man called to report a robbery at his house.
    • I played football yesterday evening.

  • We use past simple tense to talk about a series of past action or situation. See the example below:
    • The thief came in through the front door, picked up women's handbag, emptied it out and stole her phone.

    We often use words such as "next or then" to indicate the sequence of events. Example given below:
    • Then, the thief went into the left room, oppened all the cupboards and took my diamond ring.

  • We use past simple tense to talk about past repeated activities. See the example below:
    • When her daughter got older, she often went out to visit her friend after school.

  • We use past simple tense to talk about long-term situation in the that are no longer true. See the example below:
    • Steve Jobs worked for the apple company for last 30 years.
    • All the scientist at that time believed that, the world was flat.



Past Continuous Tense


Structure of Past Continuous Tense:

+ was / were + (verb + ing)
  • He was living Canada.
  • They were playing football
- was / were not + (verb + ing)
  • He was not living Canada.
  • They were not playing football
? was / are ..... + (verb + ing) ?
  • Was he living Canada?
  • Were they playing football?

Where we use past continuous tense?

  • We use past continuous tense to provide the past sence to an action or event and we often used words such as "While, When and As" in past continuous tense. See the example below:
    • As I was studying really hard, I came first in the class.
    • While hewas doing his homework on the table, the thief entered into the room slowly.

    It is possible to have more than one past sence happenig at the same time:
    • He was listining music and working in the desktop.

  • We use past continuous tense when we want to emphasize the activity or action without focusing its completion . See the example below:
    • For a while last year I was working at restuarent, studying for my degree and writing a column for a local newspaper.



Past Perfect Tense


Structure of Past Perfect Tense:

+ had + verb (past participle form of verb)
  • He had worked.
  • I had worked.
- had not + verb (past participle form of verb)
  • He had not worked.
  • I had not worked.
? had .... + verb (past participle form of verb)?
  • Had he worked?
  • Had I worked?

Where we use Past perfect tense?

  • We use past perfect tense when we are talking about the past and want to mention something that happened earlier. See the example below:
    • Her father was a singer and her gradfather had also been a composer. (Meaning: Her gradfather was a composer and then later her father became singer.)

    ***Sometimes we use the adverbs like "Just or Already", these adverbs go between auxiliary and main verb.
    • By the time he was 12, Justin Biber's name had already begun to spread through out the world.

  • We use the words such as "When, As soon as, By the time , after" to show the order of events:
    • When I was born, my gradfather had already died. (Meaning: My gradfather died first, then i was born)
    *** Try to understand the difference between two sentence are given below:-
    1. When I got home, my mother cooked dinner. (Meaning: I got home, then my mother cooked dinner.)
    2. When I got home, my mother had cooked dinner. (Meaning: My mother cooked dinner, before i got home.)

  • We use past perfect tense to talk about an indefinite time before a particular time in the past with the words like "always, before, sometimes, never, by + fixed time":
    • Her family were richer than they had ever been before. (Meaning: They were not as rich at anytime before at this time in the past.)
    • By the time he was six, he had written a song for his father.

  • We use present perfect tense to talk about something that happened at untold time in the past but connected to the present. See the example below:



Past Perfect Continuous Tense


Structure of Past Perfect Continuous Tense:

+ had been + (verb+ing)
  • He had been working for a long.
- had not + been +(verb+ing)
  • He had not been working for a long.
? had .... + been + (verb+ing)?
  • Had he been studying for a long?

Where we use past perfect continuous tense?

  • We use past perfect continuous tense to say how long a situation or an activity is going on. See the example below:
    • I have been working a shpb for three years.
    • He has been playing football since morning.