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Questions tagged [past-tense]

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

34
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7answers
11k 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. ...
24
votes
4answers
440k 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 ...
21
votes
4answers
13k 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 ...
19
votes
2answers
621 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 ...
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 ...
16
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
14
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3answers
4k 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 ...
13
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5answers
4k 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 ...
12
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3answers
3k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
971 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 ...
12
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6answers
105k 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?
11
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3answers
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....
10
votes
7answers
4k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
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 ...
9
votes
5answers
5k 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?
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?
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 ...
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 ...
9
votes
4answers
12k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
29k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
65k 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
3answers
1k 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 ...
8
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4answers
1k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
40k 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?
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
13k views

I win or I won right after the end of a game

Two kids are playing a game. Right after the game is over one of them shouts happily: "I won! I won!" or should he better say "I win! I win!"
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Which tense should be used?

I wonder which tense should be use in this case: a) When Columbus arrived in America he thought he is in India. b) When Columbus arrived in America he thought he was in India I guess both are ...
8
votes
2answers
242 views

“We have sold nearly everything he owns to make the down payment!”

I have been reading The Bridge Across Forever. I read a sentence which is a little bit odd in my view, but I think some experts can help me understand it: We have sold nearly everything he owns to ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

Should I use the past tense with did?

For example I was to say: The important question here is: Did they knew what SOMENAME means or not ? Or The important question here is: Did they know what SOMENAME means or not ? Should I ...
8
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3answers
2k views

“could not [verb]” might strictly imply that attempts were made

This question was influenced by this one. I think there is a situation when 'could not [verb]' implies that some attempts were made. I could not find him. I could not come up with a context that ...
8
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2answers
1k views

May “since” be used with simple past verbs?

Let's say there are two players A and B, both of them used to be team-mates and are retired now. In the given context, is the use of "since" correct here? Both A and B played against each other 6 ...
8
votes
3answers
705 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 ...
7
votes
8answers
40k 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? ...
7
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
151k views

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

I didn't go to party. I didn't went to party.
7
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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 ...
7
votes
2answers
130k 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 ...
7
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2answers
2k views

past tense + potential (could + [verb])

I am trying to edit the Statement of Purpose for graduate school of a friend who is a non-native English speaker. I saw the sentence: As a result, I could be admitted to [a certain undergraduate ...
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
2answers
142 views

Past and future linked

I want to link the logic of some event in the future with some event in the past. "If the shop worked tomorrow, the owner would have come back yesterday." Is it proper English? If it is, then what ...
7
votes
1answer
525 views

Using did +verb instead of the past form of the verb

I have a sentence: No sooner did we get to our car than the thunderstorm began. Is it okay to use did we get? It sounds very natural for me, but I am not sure whether or not such grammar ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

My leg got most tired

I came across the following sentence in an exercise book for non-native students of English. I am not sure if the structure of the main clause is correct or at least common in English. If not, is ...
6
votes
7answers
673 views

Does 'Was' necessitate a situation which no longer holds?

I am curious about whether the word 'was' implies a situation which is no longer the case. I was under the impression (and still am ;)) that it did not carry a hard logical implication of that nature, ...
6
votes
1answer
6k views

My grandpa died 30 years ago. I “have never met” / “never met” him. - Which one?

Which one of the following two sentences is correct/proper? My grandpa died 30 years ago. I have never met him. or My grandpa died 30 years ago. I never met him.
6
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4answers
9k views

Using “Had Born” in English sentences

Can I Use “Had Born” in English sentence to express past perfect i.e. past of past? 1) He had born when I reached to the Hospital. 2) This is where I had born. 3) Your father came to hospital ...
6
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5answers
595 views

Does the past perfect tense make sense in this sentence? “Sent from an ”is“ to a ”was“ before he'd had his breakfast.”

From the movie Lucky Number Slevin: (He was) Relegated to the past tense. (He was) Sent from an "is" to a "was" before he'd had his breakfast. The context is Morgan Freeman's character is telling ...
6
votes
2answers
546 views

Past perfect and Past perfect continuous

Please explain to me which is the correct usage. Balu had worked in several other States when he decided to work in Kolkata. Or Balu had been working in several other States when he decided to ...