Level: intermediate

Past tense

There are two tenses in English – past and present.

The past tense in English is used:

  • to talk about the past
  • to talk about hypotheses (when we imagine something)
  • for politeness.

There are four past tense forms in English:

Past simple: I worked
Past continuous: I was working
Past perfect: I had worked
Past perfect continuous: I had been working

We use these forms:

  • to talk about the past:

He worked at McDonald's. He had worked there since July.
He was working at McDonald's. He had been working there since July.

  • to refer to the present or future in hypotheses:

It might be dangerous. Suppose they got lost.

This use is very common in wishes:

I wish it wasn't so cold.

and in conditions with if:

He could get a new job if he really tried.
If Jack was playing, they would probably win.

For hypotheses, wishes and conditions in the past, we use the past perfect:

It was very dangerous. What if you had got lost?
I wish I hadn't spent so much money last month.
I would have helped him if he had asked.

and also to talk about the present in a few polite expressions:

Excuse me, I was wondering if this was the train for York.
I just hoped you would be able to help me.

Past tense 1


Past tense 2



What is the difference between two sentences below:
It started to rain.
It started raining.
Is it true if I say the second sentence means: "It was raining in the past" and the first sentence means "It has started some minutes ago and it is raining now"
Thank you in advanced.

Well. according to the book entitled "How English Works" pp.220, they are not really different. Both versions are acceptable.

Dear Teachers : My question is...
is the past perfect and past participle are the same?
thank you

Dear Omer,
A simple answer - no, they're not! The past perfect is a verb form like the present simple. The past particple is one of the forms of a verb in English.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

that was really interesting..I liked it 

Hi I'm new here and I would like to speak with people who speak the English language via Skype, to improve my language and I hope to help me because my exam after a one month

Hello h_z, and welcome to LearnEnglish!
We really like it when students want to practice their English together. That's why we have comment sections on almost all of our pages – so you can talk to other students!
However, please remember our house rules ask you not to share personal information, including Skype and e-mail. This is to protect you and everyone else who uses our site. Why not tell us a little bit about yourself and your exam here in the comments, and see if anyone has advice or help for you?
Have fun, and enjoy your stay on LearnEnglish!
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much Mr. AdamJk for your whole-heartedly respond I am glad to heard from your great opinion about the IELTS I will check it now. Because in a fast few days I am focused on my past perfect continues in grammar. Thank you English team.

If you are very clever and have enough knowledge share your ideas in a logical manner. Instead of sharing your bad opinion. Moreover we are here to learn not to criticize the people. Disseminate your thoughts in a better communication and broaden our minds in a good relations to each other unlike your given the bad impression

hello my name is hassan i am new here i want learn english