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

Hi,
I don't know how much my question is exactly related to this topic however, I really hope to get an answer for it.
"I have been watching a movie before I come here" is it correct?
thank you

Hi Ali-k,

No, that is not a correct sentence. The actions in the sentence are all in the past (the speaker is at the place, so the coming was in the past. It's impossible to be sure without any kind of context, but I would suggest this:

I was watching a movie before I came here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter for your response

One more question : I have watched several movies, Now I am an expert movie critic.

Thanks

Hello Ali-k,

I'm not sure what the question is here but if you want to know if the sentence is correct then the answer is that it is correct grammatically.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

Yes that was my question, thanks again for your help.

Hi,
is this sentence correct?
She is going to buy a laptop after she finished (or?finishes) her summer job. ?

Hello Ali-k,

The correct form here is 'finishes' as the sentence refers to a real or likely future.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thank you very much. I was wondering about how we can talk about the past in the future tenses, I have found many information in which they explained talking about the future in past tenses but nothing about the past in future .

Hello Ali-k,

I'm not sure if this is what you mean, but you can 'will have' to look into the past from a future time - see our will have or would have page for more on this. There are also some more example sentences on the Cambridge Dictionary page on the future perfect.

If you had something else in mind, please let us know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

"They find it difficult to forget; they suffered tremendous hardship in the war."

"They find it difficult to forget; they have suffered tremendous hardship in the war."

What's the difference between the two?

regards

Pages