Questions tagged [past-tense]

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

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7
votes
2answers
8k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
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
7k 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 ...
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
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
17k 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 first sentence; ...
13
votes
7answers
172k 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?
5
votes
1answer
8k 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
2
votes
2answers
2k 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....
7
votes
2answers
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 ...
4
votes
3answers
817 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
2k 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 ...
37
votes
7answers
13k 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. ...
18
votes
2answers
688 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
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?
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 ...
12
votes
1answer
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
20k 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
4answers
96k 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
577k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
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 ...
8
votes
5answers
229k views

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

I didn't go to party. I didn't went to party.
6
votes
5answers
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
176 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
2k 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
3k 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
63k 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
36k 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 ...
10
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
144 views

Can the past simple or the present perfect fit in this example with yet

Two days ago I tried to order a book but could not pay because your system did not accept/ has not accepted paypal payments yet. if I choose to add yet with past simple it means that at the time of ...
2
votes
1answer
7k 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
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
2answers
17k 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 "...
4
votes
1answer
38k views

It's been a long time since I (went/have been) to Canada

It's been a long time since I went to Canada Does the above sentence mean: since first or last went to Canada? When you as a native speaker hear the above and below sentences, could you give me ...
27
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
7
votes
8answers
52k 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? ...
6
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 ...
4
votes
2answers
5k views

Tense after when

I have these 2 examples: I was sure that you would give me a telegram when you COME to Moscow. I was sure that she would go to the museum again as soon as she HAD the spare time. Why in first ...
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
12k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Past Simple vs Past Continuous (with for/because)

The following two example were taken from F2F course workbook with answers included but there is no reasoning in the workbook. In both of them, I feel the past simple and the past continuous are ...
3
votes
1answer
248 views

Imperfective and perfective aspects of verb “glow”

The following six examples are taken from Google Books: Now that they were up close, it was clear that one section of the wall was glowing a much deeper green than the rest. Jack moved next to ...
3
votes
1answer
17k 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 know—which ...
2
votes
1answer
142 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
7answers
8k 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
651 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
654 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
3answers
1k views

Have gone or Have been

Could you please tell me whether this conversation is grammatically correct or not. A : Where were you last week ? or Can I ask like this "Where have you been in the last week ?" B : I went to Swiss ...
5
votes
2answers
41k views

Compared to or Comparing to?

I am not sure what is compared in this phrase but it seems that people believe it as the correct word. She is nice, compared to you. You're nicer, compared to him. But why? What makes ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Does “will” always become “would” in the past?

1) Tom: I will phone you on Sunday. Me: Tom said he would phone me on Sunday. 2) I decided I will go to the library. (today) I decided yesterday I would go to the library. (tomorrow) ...