There are two tenses in English – past and present.

The past tense in English is used:

  • to talk about the past
  • to talk about hypotheses – things that are imagined rather than true.
  • for politeness.

There are four past tense forms in English:

Tense Form
Past simple: I worked
Past continuous: I was working
Past perfect: I had worked
Past perfect continuous: I had been working

We use these forms:

  • to talk about the past:

He worked at McDonald’s. He had worked there since July..
He was working at McDonald’s. He had been working since July.

  • to refer to the present or future in conditions:

He could get a new job if he really tried.
If Jack was playing they would probably win.

and hypotheses:

It might be dangerous. Suppose they got lost.
I would always help someone who really needed help.

and wishes:

I wish it wasn’t so cold.

  • In conditions, hypotheses and wishes, if we want to talk about the past, we always use the past perfect:

I would have helped him if he had asked.
It was very dangerous, What if you had got lost?
I wish I hadn’t spent so much money last month.

 

  • We can use the past forms to talk about the present in a few polite expressions:

Excuse me, I was wondering if this was the train for York.
I just hoped you would be able to help me.

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

They killed the man with a gun.

Which one is correct passive form?and why

The man was killed by them with a gun.

The man with a gun was killed by them.

Hello Sunny21parikh,

Both are possible. The first version means that the gun was used by the people who killed the man (i.e. he was shot). The second version means that the man had a gun when he was killed.

The reason both sentences are possible is that the example you provide at the start is ambiguous - it could mean either of these, and so both are possible.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

But Sir, which one is more appropriate than other?
If I have been given this sentence in exam then what should I follow first,any grammatical rule like relative adverb or anything.....?

they killed the man with a gun,

What Should I understand first the man had a gun or they had ?

Hello Sunny21parikh,

Tests are made with specific purposes in mind, and since we didn't create this test it's difficult to know this. In any case, I?m afraid we don't generally comment on exams – really the best person to speak to would be your teacher.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

And that best person is you sir.I was just giving possible situation.

He was a teacher
This sentence is present indefinite or present continues

Hello Jadon g,

'was' is a past tense form, more specifically past simple. The past continuous form would be 'was being'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

The following sentences are correct in grammar and the meaning of them is the same or not?
1.I used to visit my sister twice a week.
3.I would visit my sister twice a week.
2.I have visited my sister twice a week.

Thank you!

Hello Montri,

Sentences 1 ('used to') and 3 ('would') both describe past habits which are no longer true.

Sentence 2 ('have visited') describes an action in a time frame which is not complete - it tells us about the past up to the present and not a finished/closed time period. In other words, the meaning is that your sister is still alive and you may continue to visit her. The meaning here, then is different.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Do I understand the use of past tense to refer to the present or future in conditions as the following sentences?

He could get a new job if he really tried.
-It tell us he can get a new job (in the future) if he really try in the present.

If Jack was playing they would probably win.
-It tell us they will probably win the game (in the future)if Jack play the the game (in the future)

Thank you!

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