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Past Tense

Tips and Self-Assessment Quiz On Past Tense

Tips on Past Tense

Tips on answering questions in English grammar related to Past Tense

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Learning Pundits Content Team

Written on Sep 30, 2017 12:13:09 AM

Grammar Rules with 10 Tips for using Past Tense


Classifying Tenses:


Tense is a form of Verb which indicates the time and state of and action or event.

Classifying tenses based on the Time of Action:

a)    He writes letters. (Present Tense: Now- Present time of an action)

b)    He wrote letters. (Past Tense: Before Now- Past time of an action)

c)    He will write letters. (Future Tense: After Now- Future time of an action)

Classifying Tenses based on the state of Action:

1.    Simple:

a)    Present: sings

b)    Past: sang

c)    Future: will sing

2.    Continuous (progressive action):

a)    Present: is singing

b)    Past: was singing

c)    Future: will be singing

3.    Perfect (completed action):

a)    Present: has sung

b)    Past: had sung

c)    Future: will have sung

4.    Perfect Continuous (progressive action that is ongoing):

a)    Present: has been singing

b)    Past: had been singing

c)    Future: will have been singing


Simple Past:


Used to describe a completed activity that happened in the past

a)    Simple fact- happened once: We went to Spain for our holidays.

b)    Frequency: When I was a boy I walked a mile to school every day.

c)    Duration:

I lived abroad for ten years.

d)    Definite and Indefinite Point in Time:

I went to the theatre last night.  (Definite)

People lived in caves a long time ago. (Indefinite)

e)    Negative version- use didn’t (did not): I didn’t see you yesterday. 

f)     Interrogative version-use did :

Where did you go for your holidays?


Past Continuous:


Describes actions or events which began in the past and continued for a period of time. Also used to set the scene for another action.

a)    Unfinished action -interrupted by another action: I was having a beautiful dream when the alarm clock rang.

b)    Two actions- happening at same time: While they were painting the door, I was cleaning the doors.

c)    Repeated actions: They were always quarrelling.

d)    Story Telling: The sun was shining and the birds were singing.

e)    Show change or growth: Her English was improving.


Past Perfect:


Used to emphasize that an action was already completed with reference to another event in the past.

a)    Actions completed: I had finished the work.

b)    One event happened before another: The weather changed, but the team had planned its next move.

c)    Reporting: Teresa wasn’t at home. She had gone shopping.

d)    Conditions, hypotheses and wishes: I wish I hadn’t spent so much money last month.

e)    Negative and Interrogative version:

The weather changed, and the team had not planned its next move.

Had the team planned its next move before the weather changed?


Past Perfect Continuous:


Used for an action that began before a certain point in the past and continued for a while in the past but had ended before that point in time.

a)    Actions that started in the past and continued for a while: Everything was wet. It had been raining for hours.

b)    Repeated actions that continue after that point: He had been playing guitar ever since he was a teenager.

c)    Duration- using Since: They had been staying with us for over a month.

d)    To indicate a negative: She had not been painting the door.

e)    For Interrogatives: Had she been painting the door?


Tips on using Past Tense:


Tip #1: Just

Just: used with the Past Perfect to refer to an event that was only a short time earlier than before.

Formation: Had + Past Perfect +Just

Example:

a)    The train had just left when I arrived at the station.

b)    She had just left the room when the police arrived.

c)    I had just put the washing out when it started to rain.


Tip #2: Wonder

Wonder:  used to make a very polite request in Past Continuous form, although the request is being made in the present.

Formation: Past form of ‘be’ verb + wondering

Example:

  • I was wondering if you could babysit for me tonight.


Tip #3: Ago

Ago: a useful way of expressing the distance into the past. It is placed after the period of time

Formation: period of time + ago

A week ago, three years ago, a minute ago.

Example:

a)    I met him two months ago.

b)    Two weeks ago they moved to a new place.


Tip #4: Did

Did: For the negative and interrogative form of all verbs in the simple past, use 'did'.

a)    Did he go to the cinema last night?

b)    He didn't go to bed early last night.

c)    We didn't do our homework last night.

d)    Did you do much climbing in Switzerland?

When the question statement does not use subject-verb inversion, do not use ‘did’.

a)    Who did discover India? (incorrect)

b)    Who discovered India? (correct)


Tip #5: If

If: used in the past perfect talking about something which did not happen in the past.

a)    If we hadn’t spent all our money, we could take a holiday.

b)    If I had had time, I would have been able to complete this task.


Tip #6: Wish

Wish: is used with other verbs (which are in the past perfect) to talk about wishes for the past.

a)    I wish I had worked harder when I was at school.

b)    I wish it had snowed yesterday.

Wish is used with other verbs (which are in past tense forms) to talk about wishes for the present.

a)    I wish it wasn’t so cold.

b)    I wish I had more money.


Tip #7: Seldom, Often, Generally

Adverbs of Frequency such as, often, generally, regularly, seldom, occasionally, rarely, would, used to, always are used in Simple Past Tense to depict a habit or action and its frequency.

a)    They never drank wine.

b)    He always carried an umbrella.

c)    I used to go to Mumbai by train.

d)    She would go there daily.


Tip #8: Since, Before, Last

Definite point of time in the past: is denoted by words like since, earlier, ever since, last, back, yesterday, the other day etc for Simple Past Tense.

a)    I met your brother yesterday.

b)    She went to Spain last month.

c)    The other day when I went to market, I met John.

d)    Ever since I met you I've liked you.


Tip #9: Ever, Already, Yet

Ever, Before, Already, Yet, After, By the time, So far, Till are used to imply/indicate preceding action in Past Perfect Tense.

a)    I had already taken breakfast.

b)    I had finished the book before he came.

c)    I had returned from college then.

d)    I finished my homework after I had returned from school.


Tip #10: Want, Hope, Expect

Want, Hope, Expect, Intend, Mean Suppose and Think:  when used in Past Perfect tense, these words indicate that the action intended did not take place.

a)    I had wanted to help my brother. (But could not help)

b)    I had expected to pass.

c)    My sister had hoped that her friend would help her.

d)    Mihir had intended to set up his own business.


Spot the Errors:


Each of the following sentences will contain a mistake in the usage of Past Tense.


#1:

She has bought a car two years ago. (Incorrect)

She had bought a car two years ago. (Correct)


#2:

The house was belonging to him. (Incorrect)

The house belonged to him. (Correct)


#3:

She swept the floor when I called on her. (Incorrect)

She was sweeping the floor when I called on her. (Correct)


#4:

He didn’t knew the answer. (Incorrect)

He didn’t know the answer. (Correct)


#5:

She had been knowing him for two years. (Incorrect)

She had known him for two years. (Correct)


#6:

The light went out while I read a book. (Incorrect)

The light went out while I was reading a book. (Correct)


#7:

I breaked my arm when I was 12. (Incorrect)

I broke my arm when I was 12. (Correct)


#8:

Where was you last weekend? (Incorrect)

Where were you last weekend? (Correct)


#9:

She was owning this flat in Mumbai for ten years but never telled any one. (Incorrect)

She owned this flat in Mumbai for ten years but never told anyone. (Correct)


#10:

The movie already started when we entered the theater. (Incorrect)

The movie had already started when we entered the theater. (Correct)


#11:

What was the policeman doing when the accident was happening? (Incorrect)

What was the policeman doing when the accident happened? (Correct)


#12:

He has been going to college since August but then stopped attending classes. (Incorrect)

He had been going to college since August but then stopped attending classes. (Correct)


#13:

All the students listening to the professor carefully when the bell rang. (Incorrect)

All the students were listening to the professor carefully when the bell rang. (Correct)


#14:

It rained when we left the apartment, so we took the umbrella. (Incorrect)

It was raining when we left the apartment, so we took the umbrella. (Correct)


#15:

She constantly sang. (Incorrect)

She was constantly singing. (Correct)


#16:

I was living abroad for ten years. (Incorrect)

I lived abroad for ten years. (Correct)


#17:

I meet my wife a long time ago. (Incorrect)

I met my wife a long time ago. (Correct)


#18:

The other day I am waiting for a bus when… (Incorrect)

The other day I was waiting for a bus when… (Correct)


#19:

I would have helped him if he was asking. (Incorrect)

I would have helped him if he had asked. (Correct)


#20:

We not got home until very late last night. (Incorrect)

We didn’t get home until very late last night. (Correct)



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past-tense

Past Tense

Tips and Self-Assessment Quiz On Past Tense

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