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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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'yesterday' in present tense

I understand that 'yesterday' talks about things in the past and usually uses past tense. However, I saw some sentences in present tense like Yesterday is gone. Yesterday is a history. But I didn't ...
Zelin's user avatar
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1 answer
66 views

Is it correct to avoid mentioning any additional events with the past continuous?

Is it correct to say "That evening I was doing chemistry for 90 minutes." without adding any actions occured during that period (while someone was doing something or did something - these ...
hangman's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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Had or did in this context?

I did not expect a reply anymore so when I saw that you did I was very happy . Is "did " better than" had" I think both are correct but it seems obvious that what I saw came ...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
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What is the tense of this word and why?

The sentence: You see, I have dumped my iPhone and bought myself an old-style, internet-free dumb phone (or “feature phone”, as the new branding would call it). What is the tense of the word "...
user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

I would listen to your mother

Consider the following, please: A: Exams are soon, so my mother didn't allow me to go to my friend's birthday party yesterday. But I didn't listen to her and went to the party. Was it wrong of me to ...
Mr. X's user avatar
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1 answer
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Past simple and continuous time

My teacher told me that when I just want to state a fact and I don't intend to make any store then I'm only allowed to use the past simple and not the past continuous For instance I worked there for ...
train bee 282's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
1k views

slept for 50 minutes or had been sleeping for 50 minutes

"I went to my cousin's room and I slept on the couch there for 50 minutes and then my aunt woke me up" or "I went to my cousin's room and I had been sleeping on the couch there for 50 ...
hangman's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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Difference of meaning in these two sentences

I checked yesterday but it still has not arrived . Is it possible to write that, does it mean that at the time of writing my parcel has not arrived. I checked yesterday but it had not arrived yet. ...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
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Past tense of "cannot have p.p."

I will be a king. "Will" becomes "would" in subordinate clauses of past tense verbs. I thought I would be a king. Then, does "can't have p.p." become "couldn't have ...
user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
28 views

When to use "was" in past tense?

I noticed that people sometimes use "was" in the past tense where the sentence would also make sense without it. For example, "The paperweight was preventing the documents from blowing ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Do we use the past continuous with long actions [duplicate]

Can you explain to me when we use the past continuous and when past simple. Some people say it's okay to use it with very long actions even when we just state a fact and tell no story like "I ...
train bee 282's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
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Why "had hoped" in this context, is it a mistake?

I feel so sorry for him, it would be the most terrible feeling in the world not knowing if he killed the woman he loved. I've been to that place before, waking up after a drug binge not knowing what I'...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
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1 answer
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Past continuous with long actions

When I want to emphasize a fact about my past, it's a lot more natural to say I played tennis for 10 years I was playing tennis for 10 years When I tell a story it's not so important any more When I ...
train bee 282's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
53 views

They arrived when I wasn't around, but I had been there before. - 'does Had Been mean up to a particular moment'

' had been' isn't passive here In this sentence: They arrived when I wasn't around, but I had been there before. when we use 'had been', does it mean that something had been there up to a particular ...
hwkal's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
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I asked who the winner was. OR I asked who the winner had been

I said, "Who was the winner". (Direct) which would be the correct reported speech for the above direct speech? and WHY? I asked who the winner was. OR I asked who the winner had been. (...
hwkal's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
82 views

"He thought his sister was/had been playing with his toys when he wasn't there"

Which of (1) and (2) is (or are) “correct”, and when and why? Yesterday Rachel said that she was practicing dancing two days ago. Yesterday Rachel said that she had been practicing dancing two days ...
hwkal's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
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"it turns out" in the narration of a past event

Very often I see "it turns out" used in the description of a past event. One veteran user said "it turns out" is okay when we are describing a recent event. But can't it be used ...
Apollyon's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
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Should 'got' be used instead of 'was' in formal reports?

I frequently write reports for customers with detailed descriptions of my work. Neither me nor my colleagues are native speakers but they frequently use 'got', where I would rather use 'was'. Very ...
lisa-thehexbit's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
39 views

Is there any difference between past continuous + past simple and past perfect continuous + past simple?

Compare: We were watching a film when the power went out. We had been watching a film when the power went out. Can you see any difference in meaning?
Kyamond's user avatar
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9 votes
6 answers
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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
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had started or started

Despite the affluence , there was nothing creative happening for a young person in Dorridge . For those of us with any imagination , it was a cultural desert, so we had to make our own entertainment. ...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
131 views

What's the difference to use past simple and past perfect tense when we use subjunctive mood in the past tense?

I'm reading Harry Potter. I found a difference in chapter 6 between the American version and the British version British Version: Half terrified, half furious, they acted as though any chair with ...
Jesse's user avatar
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0 answers
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so far with past simple?

I first heard from you yesterday while I was browsing the New bandcamp releases on vinyl .I listened to your track called "Room" liked it very much and immediately went to your bandcamp ...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
42 views

Is past simple possible in "Today I learned that you (had) released an LP"?

I bought the single when it was out almost 4 years ago and since then I have always played it , still one of my faves . Today I learned that you (had) released an LP and but it seems to be sold out ...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
392 views

He told me yesterday that he couldn't have drunk the milk "two days before/two days ago" - What are the differences in meaning?

Example 1 He told me yesterday that he couldn't have drunk the milk two days before and it must have been somebody else. Example 2 He told me yesterday that he couldn't have drunk the milk two days ...
vincentlin's user avatar
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0 votes
2 answers
58 views

Why is past simple used in this sentence?

Cameron worked for this computer company for ten years and then he found a better-paid job. Why is past simple used here?
Elizabeth's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
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Simple past and completeness

When I briefly desribe what I did yesterday I should say I played and watched there is no need to say I was playing and watching right? Yet When I say I read a book yesterday it means that I read ...
train bee 282's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
199 views

"was lost", "had lost", "had been lost". Which one suits best this context and how do they differ in conveying meaning?

Which one suits best? What are the differences? How do they differ in conveying meaning? Last month, when I was walking in the street, I faced a little girl who ... had been lost in the city. had ...
alireza's user avatar
  • 1,060
2 votes
1 answer
35 views

Have I well analysed the use of past perfect in this example

The life of James Joyce’s daughter Lucia was especially tragic. She had shown promise as an avant garde dancer but was eventually overcome by mental illness. After multiple episodes of violent and ...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
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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
1 vote
1 answer
37 views

Why is present perfect continuous used?

“- Why are your hands so dirty? I have been fixing the car”. Why does this sentence use present perfect continuous instead of present perfect?
Elizabeth's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
17 views

Is this sentence, which mixes present and future tense, grammatically correct? ("Until the call to war resounds/when they shall face their bane")

Is the grammar in the third stanza valid or faulty? The preceding two stanzas are included only for context. His hall has held the highest host the dead in battle slain Who dwell within to feast and ...
user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
110 views

Mention or had mentioned in my context [duplicate]

I received the parcel this morning. I was a bit surprised when I opened it that you did not enclose a book with the goods because I had mentioned in my answer to your last email that I preferred a ...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
  • 7,617
2 votes
4 answers
383 views

Which tense should I use if I want to say that an activity was in progress?

I was in the middle of doing an activity. The doing of something was in progress in the indefinite past. It must have started but it is not known if it ended. However, I don't want to add any other ...
Satebo's user avatar
  • 21
0 votes
1 answer
41 views

Every father "behaved/behaves" very boldly before they "got/gets" married. - What are the nuances?

Example 1 Every father behaved very boldly before they got married. Example 2 Every father behaves very boldly before they gets married. What are the nuances between them? My interpretation: ...
vincentlin's user avatar
  • 2,345
1 vote
1 answer
61 views

it's high time or time

Do we always use past simple after "it's about time"? It's about time we worked but it was about time we had worked or just worked and only past simple is acceptable after "it's time&...
train bee 282's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
180 views

Why using the past tense when one parent is dead but the children and the other parent are alive?

John met Mary in 2000. He died in 2023. They had three children. Marc met Ann in 2001. He is alive. They have two children. What are the grammatical reasons for the last verbs to be in past and ...
WoJ's user avatar
  • 805
1 vote
3 answers
128 views

Why do we use "would" in "My dog wouldn't let us catch him" for a past event that happened only once?

Look at this sentence, please My dog didn't let us catch him I do understand that sentence but some people would say it like that My dog wouldn't let us catch him Why is that? Why do we use would ...
train bee 282's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
18 views

Past perfect usage in chronological stentences

I had eaten breakfast before I went to work. Why do we use past perfect here since that sentence is chronological?
train bee 282's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
38 views

the best dancer I ever saw

a. When I was in high school, there was this guy in our class who was the best dancer I ever saw. Would you say that sentence corresponds to When I was in high school, there was this guy in our class ...
azz's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
67 views

Why past simple in this sentence of Jane Austen's book "Persuasion"?

I found this sentence in Persuasion by Jane Austen: Till he came and had examined the child, their apprehensions were the worst for being vague; they suspected great injury, but knew not where; but ...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
  • 7,617
1 vote
2 answers
94 views

Is the usage of the Past Perfect tense possible in the context provided? [duplicate]

According to the answer key section the correct tense to use in the second sentence is Past Simple. I wonder whether it is possible to use the Past Perfect tense form "had written" here. ...
Appolinaria's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
184 views

Without context, is there any difference between "had been cancelled" and "was cancelled"?

I have an example sentence that goes like this: I rang the station, and they told me that the train had been cancelled. Is there any difference between that sentence and: I rang the station, and ...
user593306's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
35 views

What tense do you use in this case?

Context: you're talking with the person and he's saying some new info for you. How would you answer? I didn't know this. (Past Simple) I hadn't known this. (Past Perfect) For me the second is more ...
Petr Vatov's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
148 views

until today, does it include today

Until today, I have been getting on well with my boyfriend but this morning we had an argument and he made me cry Is it possible to write that I don't think so: "Until today" includes today ...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
61 views

tense with until today

I have paid my electric bills until now. The change is imminent if there is one. I had paid my electric bills until now. The change has already been done meaning I had paid my electric bills until ...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
  • 7,617
0 votes
0 answers
28 views

Past Tense or Present Perfect [duplicate]

He placed an order OR He has placed an order. He has now be waiting for three weeks but no goods have arrived. My question is: Does the first sentence denote the starting point of the following ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
25 views

Does past perfect overlap past simple in this example?

She had been in labour for over 24 hours. They wheeled her off to the operating theatre, where she gave birth by caesarian to a healthy baby boy. I found this sentence in an answer to this question: “...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
  • 7,617
0 votes
1 answer
91 views

Would past simple change the meaning of the sentence?

While drinking his tea, Billy had realised that the sleeping dog hadn't moved at all. The dog had been silent and motionless since Billy arrived. In fact, why would he have moved? He seemed to be so ...
Yves Lefol's user avatar
  • 7,617
-3 votes
1 answer
35 views

Meaning of "stockpile of smelling salts was on hand to accommodate fainters" [closed]

Steven Houghton, a theater employee, said a stockpile of smelling salts was on hand to accommodate fainters. It is a sentence I read in New York Times. Stockpile of smelling salts was on hand to ...
Blessie's user avatar
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