Questions tagged [past-tense]

This tag is for questions about the usage of the past tense in English.

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8
votes
2answers
5k views

Should I use the past tense with did?

Should I use the past tense with did? For example, I was to say: The important question is: Did they knew what it means or not? Or should I say: The important question is: Did they know what it ...
14
votes
3answers
4k views

Is there a simple and clear way to explain the difference between past simple and present perfect?

I read (or do I say "have read"?) many rules for when to use the present perfect. I found them complex and hard to understand (or do I say "have found"?). I am finding it hard to apply these rules in ...
18
votes
3answers
6k views

When is using the past perfect tense not necessary?

Is it more natural to speak in simple past or past perfect when explaining past events to a friend? It seems like Americans use more simple past in everyday life than past perfect. I found this ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Simple Past vs. Present Perfect

Sometimes I feel difficulty telling the difference between simple past and present perfect. Given a picture like this: which one is correct between these two? Or in what sense are they different? A....
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Present-perfect-tense vs. Simple-past-tense

I've been reading this question. I have also been reading this pdf. From these two sources it appears that there is no difference between Present-perfect-tense and Simple-past-tense. I myself ...
13
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6answers
132k views

“I saw a dog” vs. “I have seen a dog”

I saw a dog. I have seen a dog. What are the differences between them? Did these events happen on the same day?
9
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2answers
30k views

“Have had” versus “had”

How does the usage of "have had" and "had" differ? Here is my example from my other question: People who have had their belongings taken will turn into miserable people. Here are the things I ...
24
votes
4answers
509k views

When to use “drank” and “drunk”

I am a bit confused in using drank and drunk. I know we use it with past tense but not when to use drank and when to use drunk. What are the better ways to use these? I visited this, too, but it ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Which tense to use in an academic paper when referring to past research?

I am writing a paper in mathematics. Stone theorems have a long history. B [B78] proved the stone theorem for the B model. C and D [CD14] not only prove a stone theorem for the cake process in ...
2
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1answer
3k views

“ could ” vs. “ could have ”

As I know we can use both structures to talk about past ability , but is there any difference between them? A. He could climb the mountain B. He could have climbed the mountain
5
votes
3answers
758 views

Past Simple vs. Present Perfect

I didn't grow out of it. or I haven't grown out of it. Which sentence is grammatically more correct? I'd rather say the second, but I saw in the text the first one.
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Present perfect or simple past?

I just came across this question: This tree (be) _____ planted by the settlers who (found) _____ our city over four hundred years ago. I think "over four hundred years ago" is an unspecified ...
36
votes
7answers
12k views

Why is 'The Chinese have invented the printer' wrong?

In the textbook by by Raymond Murphy, Intermediate English Grammar, 2nd edition, on page 26: "The Chinese invented printing." Raymond Murphy says that we can't use the present perfect here. ...
19
votes
2answers
659 views

Past tense: learned/learnt, dreamed/dreamt?

In my very first question, Carlo made an edit stating that learnt is a rare past tense of learn. I am accustomed to using learnt for past tense and learned as an adjective (as in He is a learned ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

“I heard the clock strike ten”: why not “striked ten”?

I heard the clock strike ten. Why is strike in the simple present in this sentence? What are the conditions for using a simple present verb after a past tense verb to talk about the past?
4
votes
2answers
3k views

“I would rather did it myself” or “I would rather do it myself”?

Which of the following is the correct sentence: I would rather do it myself. I would rather did it myself. When I meant to say that I don't know how to do this work otherwise I am well ...
10
votes
2answers
19k views

Tense agreement: “Before he 'had come'/'came' to the factory, Tom 'was studying'/'had studied' at the university of London”

Which of the following sentences is correct? Before he had come to the factory, Tom was studying at the university of London. Before he came to the factory, Tom had studied at the University ...
8
votes
4answers
78k views

“I'm born and brought up in India” - I don't want to use the 'past' tense here

I read this question here and this one is different because the second clause is in present tense. I'm born and brought up in India. - too commonly practiced in India. I was born in India is ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Should I always use the perfect present, when the sentence uses “never”?

In my English classes, I was taught that never should not be used with past forms, only with present perfect forms; this is also what I read in a grammar book I bought some years ago. (I bought the ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it possible to be grammatically correct without using past perfect?

Can you guys please help with which verb tense to use when talking about numerous specific events? In the example below, I'm not quite sure if past perfect really is necessary. "She sent me a new ...
2
votes
1answer
137 views

“Has been” vs “was”

Would you please explain the difference between these two sentences? Spain ceded (or gave) Puerto Rico to the United States. Since then, Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory. Spain ceded(or ...
8
votes
3answers
955 views

Which is the correct tense to use with 'by'?

I gave him the money by 6 PM. I had given him the money by 6 PM. I can't spot the difference between them and both seem right, but I was told the first one is wrong. Can anyone say, why? Here is a ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

“Was going to” versus “would be” as the past tense of “will”

Do you think that "was going to be" or "would be" could be used as past tense of will? I thought this book was going to be your choice. I thought this book would be your choice. Do these two ...
3
votes
3answers
49k views

Why should we use 'Did you come?' instead of 'Did you came?'? [duplicate]

I know 'Did' is the past tense of 'Do' and if we want to ask question in present tense 'Do you come?' and in past tense it is 'Did you come?'. Why don't we use 'Did you came?' as came is the past ...
1
vote
2answers
30k views

did call vs called

Is there any difference in meaning between the two sentences below? I did call him And I called him Both of the above sentences are in past tense. Please help me understand the difference in ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

English's imperfect tense and its imperfection

It just occurred to me that in English, when we use what Spanish would refer to as the "imperfect tense", we are actually adding a mode of termination to the action. Whereas in Spanish, there is no ...
3
votes
2answers
9k views

In American English, why is the past tense of “plan” spelt “planned”?

In American English, a lot of words are spelt with a single consonant plus "-ed", rather than two consonants as you often find in British English. Why isn't "plan" spelt with a single consonant?
2
votes
1answer
5k views

Where did they go / do they went?

Where did they go? Where do they went? Can you please advise which of above forms is correct? I'm pretty sure that first one is fine but wondering about second one. Can I use a second form as ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Book Is/Was Divided Into Sections

Suppose a book consists of three sections: The book is/was divided into three sections. I am thinking the past tense option "was" should be used, because the act of dividing the book into three ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

“She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska.” Why incorrect?

The rule says if the order of two actions/events is clear then the past perfect is not necessary, i.e. you can use past simple. So if the sentence has before or after then the order is clear and ...
5
votes
3answers
10k views

“got” vs. “have got”

Reg: What's that you have got Meggie? Reg: Show us. Meggie: No, she's mine! I got her for my birthday! Reg: We just want to have a look. Reg used the present perfect have got in the ...
2
votes
2answers
15k views

Difference between (was thinking / thought / have thought / had thought)

Consider the following dialogue: A: I think we should go to China for our holiday this year. B: Sorry, what did you say? I was thinking about my work. If I replaced "was thinking" with "...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Past simple vs used to vs would

I feel a little tangled in grammatical nuances and would like you to help me clear some things out. I know it's possible to use either the past simple, "used to" and "would" to talk about past ...
7
votes
8answers
45k views

Mistaking versus mistaken

I've always been curious why some people insist that "I was mistaken" is grammatically correct whereas "I was mistaking" is grammatically wrong. Doesn't the later follow past progressive verb tense? ...
9
votes
5answers
185k views

I didn't ('go' or 'went') to party?

I didn't go to party. I didn't went to party.
2
votes
3answers
2k views

“Water will boil at 100°C” and “The vine wouldn't grow”

I have read in Longman English Grammar, page No 246, that we use 'will' and 'would' to describe natural tendency Like the simple present tense [> 9.6-8] will (with a 3rd person subject) can ...
2
votes
1answer
14k views

“Kristina 'has passed'/'passed' her exam! She 'has got'/'got' 90%”

Kristina has passed her exam! Kristina passed her exam! Does English use the present perfect (1) or the past tense (2) to announce news? Apart the way to express the vote—90%, 90, I don't ...
2
votes
1answer
126 views

Sequence of tenses for facts irrelevant of the moment of speech

Let's consider two sentences: (1) I suggested that the word zeitgeist was of German origin. (2) The lecturer said the Pluto's orbital period is more than 200 years. In both cases, the facts are ...
1
vote
1answer
8k views

Diffrences between “told” and “have told”

What are the differences between "told" and "have told"? How do you know that? Jack told me so. Can we use "Jack has told me so" instead, since it is related to the present? Why are you ...
1
vote
3answers
378 views

Past perfect with before-clause

I don't get the difference , why in first example we use past simple, and in the second past perfect. " He decided to get a present for his children before he left Rome" " He began apologizing before ...
1
vote
4answers
551 views

What tense should I use?

I am trying to translate a sentence about having breakfast from Italian, but I don't know which tense I should use. Facevo colazione alle 9:00. The sentence is about something done in the past; it'...
1
vote
7answers
7k views

Using “recently” with past simple

Is it fine to use recently with the past simple tense in the following sentence? Did you read any books recently? Is it grammatically correct? Or do I have to use: Have you read any books ...
3
votes
2answers
745 views

“have despatched…yesterday” vs. “despatched … yesterday” [duplicate]

I have a doubt in the below sentence whether to use Past Simple or Present Perfect Tense, We have despatched the parcel yesterday. We despatched the parcel yesterday. I know the second one is ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Authenticity guarantee(d)

I was wondering if you could help me out with the phrase "Authenticity guarantee". Is it proper English to use this? Would "Authentic guarantee" or "Authenticity guaranteed" be more correct?
2
votes
2answers
15k views

If he were Or If he was

I saw this New York Times article: Mr. Trump’s presence in the 2016 race has already had pernicious effects, but they’re nothing compared with what would happen if he were the Republican standard-...
1
vote
1answer
259 views

Simple past vs Perfect Past

A) He was arrested by police. b) He had been arrested by police. In newspaper reporter want to tell about past event that has already happened. In above statements Reporter conveyed same meaning, ...
0
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1answer
5k views

How could it had happened vs How could it have happened

What is the difference between How could it had happened and How could it have happened It would be better if anyone can show its usage in some kind of situation.
0
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3answers
2k views

when to used had been and have been

My friend just answered to one of my important questions. Now how should I reply to him? That question had been in my head for a long time, finally, I got my answer or That question ...
0
votes
3answers
8k views

Two past tenses together in a sentence - I *had assumed* you were dead

You replied quite late. I had assumed you were dead. I have heard that two past tenses shouldn't be used in a sentence. What's the rule regarding that? Please clarify.
0
votes
2answers
91 views

What is the tense of “wasn't interrupted”

So I'm writing a book and English is not my native language. As I've gotten deeper into the writing process I noticed that I'm almost randomly choosing between past tenses without making much logic (...