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

But sir one has to be more apprpriate than other as often is used but I can't differentiate.

And why Have to travel on and not had to travel on.

Dear sir,
could you please tell me, how can I ask a question from someone whether he or she saw my friend. I mean, I can't find my friend (she) now. so can I ask,
"I can't find her, did you see her?"
or
"I can't find her' have you seen her?"
Thank you!

Hello nadisha,

The best way to say this is:

Have you seen her?

You are asking about a present result because you want to find her, so the present perfect is appropriate.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I have a quick question! What about a situation that was true in the past but is no longer true?

Example:
Sara was angry. I saw her on Tuesday. She is not angry today.

--> I saw Sara on Tuesday and she said she was angry

Things I can't seem to clarify..
-Does this sentence mean that Sara was angry BEFORE Tuesday?
-Does this sentence mean that Sara was angry ON Tuesday?
-Can I say, "I saw Sara on Tuesday and she said I am angry.

THANKS!!

Hello MegEnglish,

The problem here is that the sentence has no context and so the meaning can only be guessed. Both the first and second interpretations are possible; which is intended will depend upon the context.

You would need to add punctuation to the sentence for it to be correct:

I saw Sara on Tuesday and she said "I am angry".

In other words, this is possible only as direct speech.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter!

How about this:

The actress appeared on a talk show last year and talked about her upcoming wedding and confessed that her party planner had a very difficult job.

= At that time, her party planner had a hard job.

Is this correct?

Thanks!!

Hello MegEnglish,

Yes, that is correct - well done!

 

When you say 'had a hard job' it means that the job was hard at the time of speaking. What the actress actually said was 'she has a hard job', and it becomes 'had a hard job' when reported.

 

If you said 'she had had a hard job' then it would mean that the job was finished before the interview took place.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sorry, I meant;
Can I say, "I saw Sara on Tuesday and she said she is angry.

Hi, everyone
I think, this is the best site for learn English. I was looking for a way to improve my English knowledge. Finally, I think I found the right place.
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