talking about the past

 

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

Comments

hi, i am new here
i am still confuse, how many are the "tense"?

Hi iphit,

I'm afraid there's no simple answer to this question, because there is some disagreement about what the word 'tense' means. For some, including the writer of this Grammar Reference, there are only two tenses in English, present and past, because one way to define 'tense' includes the idea that a tense can only be a single word (e.g. present simple and past simple).

Many teachers and learners of English, however, refer to 12 tenses, and these include verb forms with more than one word (e.g. present perfect, past continuous, etc.). In the end, the important thing is to understand how the different forms are used to communicate meaning.

I'm not sure this will be very satisfactory answer for you! If you have any more specific questions about this, please don't hesitate to ask.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello peter i'm new to this site and dont know where to start, my english is not so good and don't know anything about grammar, i hope i'll learn a lot of things here, even reading comments is also very helpful. kindly help me with your guidance. thank you

Hello PANKJ005,

There is no set beginning point or sequence of pages to follow here - think of LearnEnglish as a library you can browse in as you wish. In this English Grammar section, which you can easily navigate using the links on the right, you'll find lots of useful explanations with examples and exercises.

Many users like to use one of our audio or video series such as the Elementary Podcasts. These have audio you can listen to, transcripts of the audio that you can read, plus integrated comprehension, vocabulary and grammar exercises.

I'd encourage you to explore the site and then just begin using whatever pages you find most useful or interesting.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello team....
I want to ask if this sentence is correct or not.
If i had a voice like you, i would have spent the whole night singing and enjoying my own voice.
i also want to know sentece structurs for every tense.. Please provide some link...
And i sometimes feel like I'm saying the right thing in English but i doubt my own English .... I don't have confidence on my own English .... Is there any way to resolve this problem ... Some kind of test or something which can help to build confidence.
And thanks for replying everytime. Even though some of the times i ask very silly questions.
Thanks team.
Regards

Hello dhananjay81991,

The sentence you ask about is grammatically correct; some people might prefer to say "like yours" ("yours" referring to "your voice"), but your sentence can be understood as "like you (do)" and is correct in that way.

Here in the Verbs section of our English Grammar, you'll find examples of different verb forms on most every page. The hesitation you describe is a natural part of learning a language, and the fact that you are aware of the fact that you have much to learn is a good sign. If you want to improve your confidence with speaking, I'd suggest listening to Big City Small World. Pay attention to the phrases that the characters use in their conversations, and make note of them and practise them as much as you can. Even if you don't speak English very often, you can say the phrases to yourself to help you remember them.

Good luck!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

i send an email to my friend and he is regularly mailing me so i sent an email to him stating that"im very thankful to you as you have been regularly updating me with the current job notifications" is this sentence right or wrong.

Hello muntaziri,

I would say '...for regularly updating me with current job notifications'.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello team.....
Which sentence would be right....
Could you place the pie on the table.
Or
You could place the pie on the table.

Regards

Hello dhananjay8199,

Are you asking a question? If so, the first sentence with a question mark (?) at the end would be correct: "Could you place the pie on the table?"

On the other hand, if you're making a statement, the second sentence you write is correct.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

 

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