Questions tagged [past-tense]

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

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3answers
2k views

Does “should have behaved” means different from “behaved” in this sentence?

In this sentence I can't imagine any reason why he should have behaved in such an extraordinary way Did he behave or did he not behave in an extraordinary way? If he did, why the author didn't ...
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3answers
537 views

Use passive in the past

Is it possible to tell: They have begun (to) being checked. ? The meaning: The police started to check people some time ago. But I can not mention "police" in the sentence.
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2answers
996 views

“have despatched…yesterday” vs. “despatched … yesterday” [duplicate]

I have a doubt in the below sentence whether to use Past Simple or Present Perfect Tense, We have despatched the parcel yesterday. We despatched the parcel yesterday. I know the second one is ...
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5answers
7k views

Is there any alternative way to say something you 'used to [infinitive]'?

I'm talking about the use of 'used to' to mean something you did (regularly?) in your past. English has alternative ways to say something in most of the cases but here, I'm finding it very difficult. ...
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4answers
175k views

Spoke and Have Spoken

What is the difference between I spoke to him. and I have spoken to him. Does the former mean at this moment and the latter mean it had happened in the past? Appreciate insight into this.
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2answers
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“My car was breakdown” / “My car had been breakdown”

Today I reached the office late. My boss asked: "why you are late?" I said: “My car had been breakdown near circle." Then boss asked: "Then how you reached office" I said: “I called the mechanic. He ...
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2answers
2k views

Using “have been” with a date in the past

Here is the text that contains the problematic expression: ...The board was a microcosm of the dysfunction: it split into two factions, one of them was led by Perkins... At 73 years old in 2005, ...
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1answer
532 views

Complex object with “see” usage

The sentences: There wasn't much traffic in the street. I saw a little girl CROSS the road. Question: Why "cross"? Why not "crossing"? Please, explain the rule or the sentence if it is correct.
3
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1answer
17k views

Is “could” the past form of “can”?

I'm kind of confused by what our teacher taught us today. He specifically said that "could" is the past form of "can", and the same for "shall" and "will". I also recall that he gave as this example: ...
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2answers
2k views

I need a specific rule to explain difference between 'were' and 'did' questions

A student has asked me to give him a very clear explanation of why we use two structures in the past tense to make questions: Did (eg Did you see him yesterday?) Were (were you with him yesterday?) ...
3
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2answers
409 views

Can we say [he done] this because he was threatened by the police officer?

He done this because he was threatened by the police officer. I have seen somewhere in a text that an Asian author wrote his statement like above so, I am confused shall we use done like this or we ...
3
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2answers
179 views

past perfect with 'when' [duplicate]

Alice walked to the door when the doorbell rang Alice walked to the door when the doorbell had rung In (1) it is clear in which order the actions occured. The doorbell rang. Then, Alice walked to ...
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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 ...
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4answers
22k views

“Is stolen” vs “was stolen”

Which one is a correct sentence to say about my card which has been stolen? i want to convey this to my father: "I think my card is stolen by my friend" or should I say, "I think my card was ...
3
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4answers
9k views

This week with simple past?

I was reading a textbook (Connect 3: it's a student book) in which there are some time expressions for simple past among which I found 'this week'. I always thought 'this week' must be used with ...
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2answers
344 views

“What {is / was} your happiest moment in 2015?”

Is it correct to say What was your happiest moment in 2015? or What is your happiest moment in 2015?
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3answers
8k views

Difference between Past Perfect and Pluperfect tense

Is there any difference between the past perfect and pluperfect tense? Please help me understand using the example below: As I got replies, I have modified my answers as "C". Let me know if it is ...
3
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2answers
220 views

Maise ate / had been eating sweets all evening so it was not suprising > she didn't want any supper

On my last lesson I had a discussion with my teacher about the sentence described below. The reason was that on my grammar reference in one of my books is written that past perfect continuos can be ...
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2answers
5k views

When to use did in a question?

I have a dilemma. I know how to use this, but I'm trying to explain it to someone and I can't find a logical explanation. So here it is: Who called last night? Who did you call last night?...
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2answers
306 views

Why is it grammatically correct to use present tense in this sentence?

Sentence that needs to be corrected- "After discussing plans for seaside vacation, Victoria realized that she likes the ocean more than Doug did." Why does the sentence need the following ...
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2answers
871 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
168 views

Past Perfect Continuous vs Past Simple

My teacher says that it's not correct to answer the test "How long (rain) yesterday?" as "How long did it rain yesterday?" She says there is only one way to do the problem with "how long" in the past ...
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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 ...
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2answers
882 views

Perfect vs past simple when relating to personal experience

It seems to me that if somebody were to ask me: Yeah, how do you know what war is like? The most fitting response would be: Because, you see, I have fought in a war. But if someone would ask ...
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3answers
1k views

past perfect or past simple why?

Is it possible to write that "My cat caught 3 mice today." I think it is better to use present perfect: "My cat has caught 3 mice today" because the cat may catch another one or many more till the ...
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1answer
134 views

Is the use of past perfect tense here correct? “When I… I had been…”

I encounter this past perfect tense structure very often: When I joined X company, at that time I had been unemployed for the last 3 years. When I started leaning to swim, I had been practicing ...
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1answer
126 views

“Words were different when they (lived / were living) inside of you”

“Words were different when they lived inside of you.” ― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Shouldn't it be "...when they were living inside of you."?...
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2answers
47k views

Please let me know when you finish or finished?

A or B and Why? I don't know whether I shall use "finish" or "finished"? A. Please let me know when you finish. B. Please let me know when you finished.
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2answers
101 views

A question related to past tense

Yesterday I read a novel and in that novel, I noticed a sentence that got me confused. The sentence is, "Everyone who had partied last night had a hangover." Since "last night" is like a point of ...
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1answer
4k views

Did you have a moment to talk? vs Do you have a moment to talk?

When calling someone say as a customer service representative, which sentence is the correct one to choose? Did you have a moment to talk? vs. Do you have a moment to talk? I have heard ...
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1answer
3k views

This is the watch that I (have/had/--) lost. — what's the difference?

I've got a sentence on a learner's site, "This is the watch that I had lost" and now it's puzzling me. What's the rule to use the Past Perfect here? And why should I use specifically this tense? It's ...
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3answers
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Difference between past perfect and past simple with specified time

The rule of thumb that I know about Perfect is that when you use perfect, it doesn't matter when the action was done but what matters is that it was done - the effect. So when I'm saying I've done my ...
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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 ...
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3answers
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“Desolated”; past tense of an adjective?

He looks around the desolated street. In this sentence, If I'm not wrong, 'desolated' is an adjective, right? Or is it a verb? In the dictionary 'desolate' is defined as an adjective. "Desolated" is ...
3
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1answer
823 views

“saw it work” vs. “saw it worked”

I read yahoo news on a daily basis and sometimes I find some mistakes in it. I post that part of the news here to make sure it is wrong (a typo mistake) or I do not understand it perfectly. News ...
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2answers
294 views

Present Perfect as Reference Time (RT)?

Could the present perfect be used as a RT for another earlier event? "What you have just written about the time line and the interruptions of the past perfect, I had already made it into a chart&...
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2answers
435 views

What are “is” and “was” pointing to, or referring to in these sentences?

Frank is my best friend! Frank was my best friend! Here, is and was are pointing to the present time, and past time. Mom: Look, you dirty little grub! Child: Mum, it wasn't my fault. What is wasn't ...
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2answers
84 views

Cannot understand the grammar used in the sentence “I'd love to have lived in the 19th century”

I came across this sentence in the one of the English knowledge tests, and it really confused me. It turned out that I cannot say "I'd love to live in the 19th century" because of some ...
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2answers
55 views

How did that word come to mean that? VS How has that word come to mean that?

This is a question about the past tense VS the present perfect tense problem. I would like to know which tense is the one to use in the following instance. I made the verb part in bold. How did ...
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2answers
83 views

Why is the 'present progressive' used when the purchase happened in the past?

Phil: Clair. In Haley’s stuff, a box of condoms. Clair: Yeah. Um, I bought those for her. Honey, she’s an adult, and she’s going to college. I want to be realistic. I don’t want her to get ...
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1answer
458 views

What tense should we use to talk about the habits of a dead person?

Is it correct to say: "Franklin used to wake up early to read and write"? Franklin is dead and I'm talking about his daily habits. So, what tense should I use?
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1answer
227 views

Past Perfect vs Past Perfect Continuous

A- When I last went to Moscow, they had renovated St Basil's Cathedral, (They finished renovating the cathedral before I went to Moscow,) B- When I last went to Moscow, they had been ...
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4answers
846 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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1answer
14k views

Which one is correct: I find/found/have found something interesting

If I noticed that something was interesting (in the past), and I still think it is so, should I say: I find (?) your paper interesting. Or which tense (find/found/have found) should I use?
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3answers
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“She had grown up, and it was said that she became a barmaid, kind and generous.” - is it awkward to use Past Perfect here?

From a lang-8 post I was proofreading: A long time ago, there lived a little girl. ... [some things happen: the girl meets a travelling priest etc.] ... The wisdom of his words changed the girl ...
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3answers
224 views

Does “could not [verb]” imply that attempts were made?

He had a clear idea – he needed seven years of peace and quiet in order to work. (1) In America he could not have it. (2) In America he could not have had it. So he went back to Russia. Does could ...
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2answers
648 views

Is this reported speech?

I have another question regarding reported speech. Are these sentences some kind of reported speech? "I was told that she knows/knew the whole story." If I turned it around, I think I could form a ...
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1answer
604 views

the potential or hypothetical events which have not yet occurred in the future

We have seen that the basic meaning of the Past tense in English is to locate an event or state in the past. It situate the event at a ‘temporal distance’ from the moment of speaking, whether in ...
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1answer
428 views

would + stative verb in past simple, “have” is an exception?

I saw in the "New English File - Advanced" book (p. 139, Unit 2A) from Oxford University the use of "used to" and "would" for past simple and one of the rules says: "we don't use would with stative ...
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1answer
785 views

past verb vs has/have been when they are used?

I would like to use past sentences, however, I cannot figure the different between have/has been and the past verbs. We can write a past sentences using both (as I understand). For example, which one ...

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