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

sometimes i get confuse between whether to user simple past or simple present
e.g suppose i go with my friend in the market and i like the watch there in that shop and i force my friend to buy that watch.. so what should i say..
I like this watch..
or
i liked this watch

plz help me out.. i always remain confuse in between them.

Hello tagrapankaj,

You can say either of these sentences.

'I like this watch' tells us that you like it now. Perhaps you liked it before or perhaps not, but you certainly like it now.

'I liked this watch' tells us that you liked it in the past. Perhaps you still like it now or perhaps not, but you certanly liked it then.

Which of the two sentences you use is up to you, and depends upon what you want to say.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Call me when u r free
Or call me when u will be free

Could u plz tell me the difference between them or they have the same meaning?

Hello tagrapankaj,

In time clauses such as these we usually use the present simple, as in the first sentence. It is possible to use 'will' if the sentence is an offer or a promise in order to make the sentence more polite, but not in a sentence like your second example.

You can find more information on time clauses here.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Which 1 is correct?
I knew you r cheating me.
Or
I knew you were cheating me

Hello tagrapankaj,

In reported speech we can often use different tenses like this, and here both forms are possible. The first on suggests that the cheating is still the case, the second does not tell us whether it is still the case or has already finished. Another example can help to illustrate.

She told me she loves me. - She loves me now.

She told me she loved me. - She loved me then but the sentence doesn't tell us if she still loves me now or not.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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