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Questions tagged [past-tense]

This tag is for questions about the usage of tenses to refer to the past.

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39 votes
7 answers
15k 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. ...
Dinusha's user avatar
  • 1,617
32 votes
3 answers
42k views

"Rollbacked" or "rolled back" the edit? And what about "double-click"?

The noun (and verb) rollback on Stack Exchange means to undo or reverse an edit. I'm not sure if there is a difference between the two, but that's how I understand it. Recently, I posted the past ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
  • 27.8k
28 votes
5 answers
6k views

Why do native speakers use the present continuous tense when talking about people in a picture? Why not the past continuous tense?

This is some sentences in a flyer test. I took this photo by the lake last Saturday, Grandma. It looks lovely. Do you know any of these people? Yes, I do. The man who’s reading the newspaper ...
Tom's user avatar
  • 24.4k
26 votes
4 answers
595k 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 ...
ARG's user avatar
  • 585
20 votes
8 answers
9k views

"My boss was furious with me and I have been fired" vs. "My boss was furious with me and I was fired"

I have a question and I hope you can help me. I've been learning English for many years but I'm still struggling with the difference between simple past and present perfect. For example this sentence ...
Heda's user avatar
  • 213
19 votes
5 answers
5k 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 ...
user37421's user avatar
  • 1,003
18 votes
3 answers
8k 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 ...
jess's user avatar
  • 1,771
18 votes
2 answers
763 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 ...
Sultan's user avatar
  • 645
17 votes
2 answers
8k views

17 billions of bottles VS 17 billion of bottles

What is the right form for these expressions: "In 2000 Coca-Cola has sold 17 billions of bottles" or "In 2000 Coca-Cola has sold 17 billion of bottles" Could you please, explain why? UPDATE based ...
Ilan's user avatar
  • 940
15 votes
2 answers
181k views

I was wondering vs. I am wondering vs. I wonder

If I would like to make requests, should I use “I was wondering…” instead of “I am wondering…” and “I wonder…”? If yes, what’s the most appropriate situation to use “I am wondering…” and “I wonder…”?
nicolasyeh's user avatar
14 votes
7 answers
5k views

Is it correct to say "My teacher yesterday was in Beijing."?

In my opinion, it is incorrect. I think that only one of the following two ways is grammatically correct: My teacher was in Beijing yesterday. Yesterday my teacher was in Beijing. However, my son ...
Sara's user avatar
  • 149
14 votes
3 answers
6k views

Past form of "make do"

Looking for a synonym of 'to get by on", I came across "to make do with" and immediately started wondering what the past form of the latter could be. "Make did", "made do", made did" - they all sound ...
Victor B.'s user avatar
  • 9,555
14 votes
7 answers
193k 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?
user73963's user avatar
  • 1,387
13 votes
5 answers
6k views

"Tea drinking" vs. "tea drunk" in this context

Which of these two is preferred? A: Tea drinking is a British custom B: Tea drunk is a British custom P.S. What is it called when we say tea drinking instead of drinking tea? Also, can we ...
Mohamed Essa's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
61k views

Why "Would you mind if I asked you something?" is correct?

Instead of "Would you mind if I ask you something?" Why past tense, I don't get it?
ESL's user avatar
  • 133
13 votes
5 answers
195k views

Show Showed Shown?

I have been using 'showed' as past simple form of the verb 'show' and 'shown' as past participle. But recently, I read somewhere that it is used as 'show' 'showed' and 'showed' in UK English and 'show'...
Porwal's user avatar
  • 293
12 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
learner's user avatar
  • 5,938
11 votes
3 answers
2k views

"I built a giant house of playing cards an hour ago"

I built a giant house of playing cards an hour ago. Given that building it took many hours (say, three), does the sentence mean that: I finished building a giant house of playing cards an hour ago....
user132181's user avatar
  • 1,606
11 votes
2 answers
19k views

Had Begun vs Began [duplicate]

I was going through an english ACT test and came across this question: Walker Lee __________ his career in hand forged ironwork at the age of 30. The possible answers are: had begun began ...
user9249390's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
37k views

Is adjective "backuped" correct?

I have a list of servers which should be backed up, but I don't know where they are, so a script tries to find them and logs this activity. I've put this phrase in my log facility and now I'm ...
mate200's user avatar
  • 197
10 votes
4 answers
3k views

Confusion about the use of the present simple in a story

I am reading a plot summary of "Wuthering Heights", a story written by Emily Brontë. One day Mr Earnshaw, father of Catherine and Hindley, goes to Liverpool on business. When he returns, he brings ...
Ahmed99's user avatar
  • 131
10 votes
2 answers
3k views

Can I use future tense and past tense in one sentence with "if"?

Let's imagine I wrote a report a day ago and now I'm informing my partners about this. Can I say: Elena will correct me if I missed something important. Elena will read my report in the ...
Vladimir Fedorenko's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
3k 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 ...
dockeryZ's user avatar
  • 1,856
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

Using “used to” vs "would" when expressing something done in the past

I understand how the phrase "used to" can describe something that was done in the past: When I was growing up, my parents used to read to me at bedtime. My dad used to take the family out ...
J.R.'s user avatar
  • 110k
10 votes
2 answers
122k views

I've started or I started

Which one is correct to describe that I started something and it's still continuing since then. I've started doing the project Or I started doing the project I don't know the first one sounds ...
Chaesar Ibrani's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
21k 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 ...
upgrate's user avatar
  • 131
9 votes
6 answers
6k views

Why did the BBC use "would have done" instead of Simple Past to describe this recent event?

The following sentence is about a problem that took place last week when an aircraft's door panel blew out while it was in the air. The aircraft was delivered to Alaska Airlines on 31 October 2023, ...
Yunus's user avatar
  • 7,559
9 votes
4 answers
116k 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 correct ...
Maulik V's user avatar
  • 66.2k
9 votes
4 answers
7k views

Why does Obi-Wan use 'were' in "He wanted you to have it when you were old enough"?

It's a phrase in Star Wars by Obi-Wan Kenobi: "He wanted you to have it when you were old enough." Why did he use the word "were" instead of "will be"? (Regardless of the ...
JustOneMan's user avatar
9 votes
7 answers
7k views

"My wife and I have been living here since we have been married." is the tense correct?

I want to make a sentence meaning that "we have been living here since the day of our marriage" but is the latter part of the sentence correct? "My wife and I have been living here since we have been ...
Ann's user avatar
  • 111
9 votes
3 answers
5k 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?
Jakki's user avatar
  • 129
9 votes
3 answers
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 ...
user31782's user avatar
  • 1,763
9 votes
4 answers
15k views

"asked" as past tense and "asked" as past participle

Residents asked for comments on Lydney Area Action Plan Baseline Report. Last summer the Treasury Department asked for comments on fixes to—or outright elimination of–the use-it-or-lose-it rule in ...
user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
4k views

Is Present Perfect used in real life?

Do native speaker use "Present Perfect" (in real life) as it should be done? I have watched many US movies, and I noticed that the simple past tense is used more often. For example, suppose that ...
anouar.bag's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
32k 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 ...
Pato's user avatar
  • 423
9 votes
3 answers
5k 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 ...
Policewala's user avatar
  • 1,293
8 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why is past continuous wrong in this sentence?

So I had an exam recently where in one problem we had to complete sentences with verbs in either past simple or past continuous tense. One of the sentences was something like this: He _______ in ...
Korvin's user avatar
  • 824
8 votes
5 answers
3k views

How Do I Explain "Be Born"?

"Be" is a unique verb, if I am correct, in that it most always relates to: adjective and ID words (nouns and places), the progressive tense, or the passive voice. But here we have "...
Alexander Jorgensen's user avatar
8 votes
5 answers
8k views

Is "I never saw him yesterday" grammatical?

Is "I never saw him yesterday" grammatical, used to mean that "at no point in time in yesterday did I see him"? Does the sentence sound weird to a native speaker of AmE?
user132181's user avatar
  • 1,606
8 votes
5 answers
266k views

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

I didn't go to party. I didn't went to party.
user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
apaderno's user avatar
  • 20.9k
8 votes
3 answers
136k views

How should I use 'must' in past tense?

I suppose the modal verb 'must' works like below: I am sure that he is busy. → He must be busy. I am sure that he was busy. → He must have been busy. I want to know how 'must' itself ...
Thunderweb's user avatar
7 votes
8 answers
56k 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? ...
user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
843 views

Combining present with past

I am currently reading "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson and when describing a sequence of events, the writer constantly forms these sentences: First, he separated the bulbs [...]. Then he ...
João Neves's user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
2k views

How to fill the blank in "Many of the world's great novels are reported ___ (make) into movies last year."?

I'm an English learner and came across an exercise question today: Sentence: Many of the world's great novels are reported ___ (make) into movies last year. Choices: made to be made to have been made ...
Nekomiya Kasane's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is 'I forget how to do something' correct?

Suppose someone says: Hey, can you help me solve this algebra problem? What should I say if I want to use the word forget? Sorry, I forget how to do algebra. Sorry, I've forgotten how to do algebra....
user516076's user avatar
  • 5,032
7 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
Sinusx's user avatar
  • 475
7 votes
2 answers
15k 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 ...
0bserver07's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
139k views

Bit or Bitten - which is correct usage?

"Spiderman was bit by a radioactive spider" versus "Spiderman was bitten by a radioactive spider" - which one is correct usage ? Not sure if "bitten" is formally recognized as English or just a ...
bdutta74's user avatar
  • 171
7 votes
2 answers
63k views

This photo {has been taken vs. was taken} in Okinawa

A. This photo has been taken in Okinawa B. This photo was taken in Okinawa Which one would be correct? In the case that if I don't want to specify a date
incleaf's user avatar
  • 235

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