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* It is common in modern spoken English to NOT change the tense if you believe that what someone told you is still true. So, for example, we could say:
The Past Simple Tense
She said her mother didn’t like German food.
The new girl told me her father was a millionaire but I don’t believe her!
The past simple tense is most often used for the following:
* In this sentence the speaker is talking in the evening, so for her this afternoon is finished time.
The past simple tense is used in conditional 2 sentences. Have a look at some examples before reading the explanation about what the conditional 2 is. The verbs in past simple form are shown in bold.
The past simple is the most usual tense for talking about things that happened or have finished before now. Very often we use a word or expression of finished time with this tense. In the following example sentences the expressions of finished time are shown in bold:
The teacher asked me if I knew the answer.
worship – worshipped – worshipping (AmE also: worshiped, worshiping).
После звонкого согласного звука или после гласного звука: [d] – robbed, begged, saved, called, learned, occurred, boomed, bathed, judged, seized, played, lied, toed, studied, mowed, weighed.
travel: BrE travelled, travelling; AmE traveled, traveling;
trek, trekked, trekking – путешествовать медленно или с трудом, пешком или в повозке, запряжённой волом.
The ending ED has three variants of pronunciation depending on the sound or letter after which it stands. (The mute letter E at the end of the word is not taken into consideration in this rule.)
kidnap (похищать) – kidnapped – kidnapping;
After a voiced consonant or after a vowel: [d] – robbed, begged, saved, called, learned, occurred, boomed, bathed, judged, seized, played, lied, toed, studied, mowed, weighed.
initial: BrE initialled, initialling; AmE initialed, initialing.
pit (удалять косточки из фруктов) – pitted – pitting;
Adding the Endings ed, ing to Verbs
cancel (отменить): BrE cancelled, cancelling; AmE canceled, canceling;
Rule: If the final letter Y doesn’t form a syllable (Y stands after a vowel), Y doesn’t change before adding ED or ING.
convey (передавать) – conveyed – conveying.
In British English, the use of Simple Past and Present Perfect is quite strict. As soon as a time expression in the past is given, you have to use Simple Past. If there are no signal words, you must decide if we just talk about an action in the past or if its consequence in the present is important.
irregular verbs: see 2nd column of irregular verbs
Simple Past — Present Perfect Simple
irregular verbs: form of ‘have’ + 3rd column of irregular verbs
Example: I / you / we / they have worked he / she / it has worked
Do you want to express when a certain action took place or whether / how often an action has happened till now?
regular verbs: form of ‘have’ + infinitive + ed
Note that the following explanations and exercises refer to British English only. In American English, you can normally use Simple Past instead of Present Perfect. We cannot accept this in our exercises, however, as this would lead to confusions amongst those who have to learn the differences.
Do you just want to express what happened in the past? Or do you want to emphasise the result (a past action’s consequence in the present)?
Example: I bought a new bike. (just telling what I did in the past.)
Do you want to express that an action happened at a certain time in the past (even if it was just a few seconds ago) or that an action has just / already / not yet happened?
Example: I / you / we / they have spoken he / she / it has spoken
Was or Were
So why do we sometimes hear people say “I were”, “he were” instead of “I was”, “he was”? This is because some verbs have moods and this is the past subjunctive form/mood of the verb “To Be”. It is used in hypothetical/fantasy scenarios that are unlikely to happen.
You should select the correct verb form from the following:
* “They were” can also be used for gender-neutral singular cases when the person doesn’t identify as a he or she.
“Was” or “Were” are the past tenses of the verb “To Be” and it’s important to be careful when choosing the correct verb for the subject of a sentence.
“The sheep were grazing in the field.” (many sheep)
1. “Your parents _______ neighbours of mine many years ago.”
“They were supposed to clean their rooms today.”
“The early 1940s was a period of war. / The early 1940s were years of war.”
Complete the sentences with was / were – Answers below.
3. “If he _______ a better player, he could make the team.”
4. “When I _______ younger I wanted to be a footballer.”
2. “There _______ a dozen candidates for the job.”
When you use the past continuous with two actions in the same sentence, it expresses the idea that both actions were happening at the same time. The actions are parallel.
In the simple past, a specific time is used to show when an action began or finished. In the past continuous, a specific time only interrupts the action.
I started eating at 6 PM.
In USE 1, described above, the past continuous is interrupted by a shorter action in the simple past. However, you can also use a specific time as an interruption.
In English, we often use a series of parallel actions to describe the atmosphere at a particular time in the past.
Clauses are groups of words which have meaning, but are often not complete sentences. Some clauses begin with the word "when" such as "when she called" or "when it bit me." Other clauses begin with "while" such as "while she was sleeping" and "while he was surfing." When you talk about things in the past, "when" is most often followed by the verb tense simple past, whereas "while" is usually followed by past continuous. "While" expresses the idea of "during that time." Study the examples below. They have similar meanings, but they emphasize different parts of the sentence.
The past continuous with words such as "always" or "constantly" expresses the idea that something irritating or shocking often happened in the past. The concept is very similar to the expression used to but with negative emotion. Remember to put the words "always" or "constantly" between "be" and "verb+ing."
Use the past continuous to indicate that a longer action in the past was interrupted. The interruption is usually a shorter action in the simple past. Remember this can be a real interruption or just an interruption in time.
The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.
Using the past perfect continuous before another action in the past is a good way to show cause and effect.
This sentence emphasizes that he was tired because he had been exercising over a period of time. It is possible that he was still exercising at that moment OR that he had just finished.
It is important to remember that Non-continuous verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for mixed verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using past perfect continuous with these verbs, you must use past perfect.
B: I had not been studying Turkish very long.
We use the past perfect continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. "For five minutes" and "for two weeks" are both durations which can be used with the past perfect continuous. Notice that this is related to the present perfect continuous; however, the duration does not continue until now, it stops before something else in the past.
Past Perfect Continuous
- Chef Jones had been preparing the restaurant’s fantastic dinners for two years before he moved to Paris. Active
- The restaurant’s fantastic dinners had been being prepared by Chef Jones for two years before he moved to Paris. Passive
- He was tired because he was exercising so hard.
If you do not include a duration such as «for five minutes,» «for two weeks» or «since Friday,» many English speakers choose to use the past continuous rather than the past perfect continuous. Be careful because this can change the meaning of the sentence. Past continuous emphasizes interrupted actions, whereas past perfect continuous emphasizes a duration of time before something in the past. Study the examples below to understand the difference.