1 Talking about past events and situations:

We use the past simple:

  • when we are talking about an event that happened at a particular time in the past

We arrived home before dark
The film started at seven thirty.

  • when we are talking about something that continued for some time in the past

Everybody worked hard through the winter.
We stayed with our friends in London.

When we are talking about something that happened several times in the past we use

  • the past simple:

Most evenings we stayed at home and watched DVDs.
Sometimes they went out for a meal.

  • … or used to

Most evenings we used to stay at home and watch DVDs.
We used to go for a swim every morning.

  • ... or would

Most evenings he would take the dog for a walk.
They would often visit friends in Europe.

WARNING: We do not normally use would with stative verbs.

We use the past continuous:

  • when we are talking about something which happened before and after a given time in the past

It was just after ten. I was watching the news on TV.
At half-time we were losing 1-0.

  • when we are talking about something happening before and after another action in the past:

He broke his leg when he was playing rugby.
She saw Jim as he was driving away.

2 The past in the past

When we are looking back from a point in the past to something earlier in the past we use the past perfect:

Helen suddenly remembered she had left her keys in the car.
When we had done all our shopping we caught the bus home.
They wanted to buy a new computer, but they hadn’t saved enough money.
They would have bought a new computer if they had saved enough money.

3 The past and the present:

We use the present perfect:

  • when we are talking about the effects in the present of something that happened in the past:

I can’t open the door. I’ve left my keys in the car.
Jenny has found a new job. She works in a supermarket now.

  • When we are talking about something that started in the past and still goes on:

We have lived here since 2007. (and we still live here)
I have been working at the university for over ten years.

4 The future in the past

When we talk about the future from a time in the past we use:

  • would as the past tense of will

He thought he would buy one the next day.
Everyone was excited. The party would be fun.

  • was/were going to

John was going to drive and Mary was going to follow on her bicycle.
It was Friday. We were going to set off the next day.

  • the past continuous:

It was September. Mary was starting school the next week.
We were very busy. The shop was opening in two weeks time.

 

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

"The minister defended his government decision saying the government will always act if there was any violation of environment laws in the state?"
Is this sentence correct? Dont you think would should come instead of will?

Hello innocentashish420,

The sentence can be written with either 'would' or 'will'. 'Would' may be more likely, but we can use 'will' to emphasise that what the minister says is still true now.

I would suggest 'his government's decision' (with the apostrophe) would be better.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Sir
This example: Every one was excited. The party would be fun that means he predicates the party was fun and I read this example too when you started learning english you knew you would be fluent one day. That means he studied or not.
Thank you, Sir

Hello sunrisereham,

In the sentence 'When you started learning English you know you would be fluent one day', it does imply that the person studied English. I'm afraid I'm not sure I understand what the rest of your question is.

By the way, when you ask questions about a sentence, could you please put the sentences inside inverted commas (' ')? That way it's clear what the sentence is.

Thanks.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Sir
I'm sorry because my question wasn't clear.
My question is about using would to talk about The future in the past and the examples are:
1) Everyone was excited. The party would be fun.
2) When you started learning English you knew you would be fluent one day.
3) At midnight Sarah was still working. She would be tired the next day.
do all these examples make a past prediction ? I have read about a past prediction and The future in the past but actually I don't understand it.
Could you please help me?
Thank you, Sir

Hello sunrisereham,

Sentences 1 and 3 sound a bit odd to me in isolation. In context, they could be correct, but in isolation, for 1, for example, I'd say 'was going to be fun'. If you found them somewhere, what is the context?

There are a couple of pages at the BBC that cover this topic that might be useful for you. One is an archived page and the other is on 'would' from their Grammar Reference. I think these might help you understand the issue, but if not, you can of course ask us again.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Sir
Actually, there is no context for this example: 'Everyone was excited. The party would be fun.' Sir
It's on this page, on the last part of the page.
And please, Sir I have some questions about these examples:

1 I'm not going to invite them they wouldn't come anyway
2 why don't come and see Clare? she would be very pleased to see you
3 Why not come over at the weekend? The children will enjoy seeing you again.
why in 1 example we use 'wouldn't not 'won't' and If I use 'won't' instead of 'wouldn't' is that correct or make any difference.
and also 2 and 3 examples I think they are so close in the meaning so why we use 'would be' in 2 and in 3 example we use 'will' is there any difference between them here
Thank you, Sir

I have a question and need som help!

Which sentence is correct?

1. You will receive a confirmation once your reservation has been confirmed.
2. You will receive a confirmation once your reservation is confirmed.

Hello James,

Both sentences are correct and there is little difference in meaning. In the first, the second verb is the passive voice whereas in the second the verb is 'be' and 'confirmed' is an adjective.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

What little difference in meaning you are talking about?

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