Questions tagged [past-tense]

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

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2answers
241 views

“I'd never wished to” or “I've never wished to”?

I was trying to say I wish I would not be like what I look like now (I mean not in terms of appearance but actually attitude), but I was not sure how to gather the grammar that would fit together ...
4
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2answers
2k views

General past possibility with 'could'

I am a bit confused, as I know I should not use "could"+verb in the sense of a possibility in the past, such as "He could go there yesterday but he did not". I am well aware I should use past modals ...
4
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1answer
199 views

Verb chaining and tenses: “To where we've been before” vs. “To where we'd been before” in a poem by Brodsky

Here is a piece by Brodsky I wish you were here, dear, I wish you were here. I wish we were in my car, and you'd shift the gear. we'd find ourselves elsewhere, on an unknown shore. Or ...
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3answers
5k views

Is “if you are the last one left the office” correct?

I saw this sentence on a sign in an office: a) "Please close curtains if you are the last one left the office." I am guessing that this sentence bears the following implication: "Please close ...
4
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2answers
4k views

The past simple of “gaslight” – “gaslighted” or “gaslit”?

What is the past simple of the term gaslighting as a verb – "gaslighted" or "gaslit"? Would it be correct to say: That person gaslighted her or: That person gaslit her Note: There is a ...
4
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2answers
56k views

“It was raining” vs. “It rained” — When to use which one?

Do the sentence "It was raining" and the sentence "It rained" mean the same thing? Another example: "I walked to the park" vs. "I was walking to the park" mean the same thing? When to use which? ...
4
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1answer
2k views

Ben {planned / was planning} to go, but now . . . simple past or past progressive?

There was a question in my text book like this: Ben ____ to go to his high school class reunion tomorrow, but now he is not sure if he can. (A) plans (B) will plan (C) has planned (D) was ...
4
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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.
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2answers
869 views

How to pronounce “locked out”

How would you say the phrase locked out? I believe the word locked by itself is pronounced with the t sound. So like lock + t. However, I hear people saying it with the d sound, like lock + d out
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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 ...
4
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2answers
203 views

Why Past Perfect is used here?

From an episode narrated by David Attenborough. The buds stayed dormant until spring sunshine, filtering down through the snow, triggered them into action, and they opened even before the snowy ...
4
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1answer
305 views

Should “Apple has launched two phones yesterday” be past tense or present tense?

When I was on italki, I saw this notebook entry: Have you guys heard about the newest apple's mobile? I just watched the advertisement and the phone is really cool. Even though the phone haven'...
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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 ...
4
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1answer
165 views

What’s the purpose of ‘for’?

You got there? You got Hermione's owl? We must have crossed in midair. No sooner had I reached London than it became clear to me that the place I should be was the one I had just left. I arrived ...
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1answer
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Difference between Past continuous and Past perfect continuous

In these following sentences, which one is grammatically correct? They were playing football since 10 o'clock. They had been playing football since 10 o'clock. According to this reference ...
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1answer
4k views

(did not listen) vs (was not listening) (past simple vs past continuous)

Miguel came to the presentation but he seemed very distracted and he __________ (not/listen) to anything that the speaker said. This is an exercise on practicing with the form of the past ...
4
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1answer
2k views

“Sarah has climbed the Matterhorn, sailed around the world”

Sarah has climbed the Matterhorn, sailed around the world, and has gone on safari in Kenya. She is such an adventurous person. Why is "sailed" in the Simple Past while the other verbs are in the ...
4
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1answer
3k views

Should I say “the reason is” or “the reason was”?

I was wondering if you could turn the "the reason is [...]" phrase into the past tense. Can you turn "The reason I was late is because I slept in this morning." to "The reason I was late was because ...
4
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2answers
2k views

Is “let” a modal?

Must the verb that follow let always be an infinitive regardless of the context, even in a reported speech? For example, He told us to let him saw her one last time. Is that correct?
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2answers
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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 ...
4
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1answer
18k views

Why does “the then chairman” contain “the then” at the same time?

A special court for CBI cases on Monday framed charges against the then chairman and managing director, executive director and senior vice-president of the erstwhile Global Trust Bank and ...
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4answers
844 views

“Could anyone have expected that…” vs. “could anyone expect that…”

Having spent a couple of weeks in a hopeless attempt to translate the poem (could anyone have expected that it would hide such a subtle subtext?), I gave up. Can we use "could" instead of "could ...
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2answers
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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-...
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2answers
159 views

Past progressive for a finished event

It was Friday, the first day of our skiing holiday, and my friend Jason and I __________ down the mountain together. We wanted to catch the ski lift back down to our hotel. I answered had been skiing,...
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2answers
28k views

Difference between “didn't” and “hadn't”

Is didn't or hadn't correct below? What is the difference? Please do not dock my pay as I was in the office but didn't brought my ID card. or Please do not dock my pay as I was in the office ...
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3answers
365 views

“Fell like dead leaves”: a continued action in the past or a completed action?

From Elizabeth Kerner's "Redeeming the Lost": Alas, Varien was changed yet again. I gazed after him. The joy that had filled him when he left our old home with his beloved was gone. That joy ...
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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 ...
4
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1answer
59 views

Why “did” and not “had done”?

He had relocated the same day as I did after switching university. We kept in touch regularly. Why did and not had done if both relocated the same day, same tense should be used?
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2answers
53k views

What happened? What had happened? or What has happened?

I was reading a book and stumbled upon this piece: Not one person, dead or alive. Where was everyone? What had happened? Can someone explain to me why this sentence is in past perfect? What is the ...
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1answer
2k views

“I wanted to wish her… before I left”

In Friends, S01, finale, Ross asks his sister Monica about her roommate Rachel. He won't be attending Rachel's birthday party because he's flying to China shortly. Ross: Is Rachel here? I wanted to ...
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3answers
870 views

Question about “would”: Present Simple or Past simple?

Recently I was doing some english quiz and was totally knocked out with the folowing phrase: "Would you like a glass of water?" In that quiz I had to determine the tense of this phrase. And was ...
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2answers
143 views

Past modal in English

In this sentence: The salesman would have sold his products but he was late for the appointment. What is the meaning of would have sold? What is the meaning of would have alone? If you ...
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2answers
2k views

Understanding past perfect and past simple tense

I am a bit confused about using past perfect tense. Are both of these sentences correct, or is only the past simple tense correct? Sara went to bed as soon as she had (she'd) finished homework. ...
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1answer
1k views

Which form of verbs should be used after conjuction words in interrogative statements?

Which sentence is correct? Why did you close that and open this?! Why did you close that and opened this?! When a verb comes after a conjuction word such as and in sentences like the above question, ...
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2answers
605 views

Present perfect in a past-tense context

Presently I heard Pilot bark far below, out of his distant kennel in the courtyard: hope revived. Nor was it unwarranted: in five minutes more the grating key, the yielding lock, warned me my watch ...
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2answers
6k views

Would been vs would have been

Having a hard time telling the difference between these, and which ones are wrong. 1) 0.5 seconds later and he would been dead. 2) 0.5 seconds later and he would have been dead. 3) 0.5 seconds ...
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1answer
3k views

Is “I was scared by …” in the passive voice?

I'm having a discussion with someone and we are having a few disagreements over whether this sentence is passive voice or not: I was scared by the noise. We've discussed linking verbs, whether ...
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2answers
337 views

How to use tenses in reported speech

If I had two verb forms in a sentence, how should I use the tense? For example: I heard that you were moving to London. The situation is like this, the event (moving to London) has not taken ...
4
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3answers
21k views

Semantic difference: “What have you expected?” vs. “What did you expect?”

I'm wondering what the semantic difference is between these sentences: What have you expected? and What did you expect? In both questions we are talking about the past, and both are translated ...
4
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1answer
75 views

“Everyone at school was looking at what I wore” - why not “Everyone at school looked at what I was wearing”?

When I was a teenager, I used to think that everyone at school was looking at me and judging what I looked like, what I wore, and how I acted. Why "everyone at school was looking at me and judging" ...
4
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1answer
298 views

The usage of Past Simple and Past Perfect Continuous

A quote from a movie: We were married for 10 years. Why can we use the Past Simple tense for an action which had been taking place for a certain time? The emphasis is on the duration, so according ...
4
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1answer
146 views

-would- used to substitute a past tense

I was thinking on the following example: I would imagine myself doing this. I imagined myself doing this. If I said 1 without a structure like "When I was a child, I would imagine (...),"...
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4answers
796 views

Correct use of Past Tense

Scenario is I purchased one watch online and I received the delivery today. I want to tell to my friend that the watch is not the same which I ordered online. Should I use Past perfect tense? This ...
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2answers
110 views

Do I need “had” in the following question?

Was it because some emergency (had) happened? This is written in past-tense narration, and the character is referring to an event in the past (based on her current "present"). So do I need to add "...
4
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1answer
389 views

present perfect vs past perfect vs simple past

The dancers have rehearsed the ballet for almost three hours. They have displayed new CDs since Friday morning. She hasn't talked to her brother since he broke her cell phone. At first glance ...
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2answers
317 views

For which verbs is past perfect necessary?

When the brothers were reunited, Hans explained how it was that he was still alive. After having been wounded towards the end of the war, he had been sent to hospital and was separated from his unit. ...
4
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1answer
471 views

Can past tenses in a sentence have different time reference?

Duric Ludokian was a huge wealthy Armenian who had fled from his native country to Russia in 1896 shortly after the first Turkish massacres and pogroms against the Armenian people had begun. He ...
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2answers
1k views

I invited my friend but I realised that I forgot/had forgotten to give him the address

I invited my friend, but later l realised that l ....... to give him the address. A: forgot B: had forgotten I think that B is true but it's written in the book that A is the correct one. Is that ...
4
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2answers
151 views

I went see his dog (in American English)

The past tense of 'I go see his dog.' (in conversational AE) I somehow feel the first one a bit odd but the second and the third sound okay to me. Could anyone please clarify if my way of putting 'I ...
4
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1answer
262 views

Past perfect or past simple

I know, that question is simple, but i can't understand past perfect clearly enough. There are part of text with gaps: The chart shows the percentage of people aged 65 and over in the US between ...

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