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



you're right, that does make sense. Though, could it be said, that 'blurred', in this instance, was used, not to denote the past participle, but as a descriptor of its state or quality in being blurred?

Hello again,

That is possible and in that case it would be describing the photo rather than the act of taking it, meaning it would still have an adjectival role and would precede the noun.

The problem with the word order is clear if you replace the word 'blurred' with a different adjective such as 'clear' or 'precise'. Their function means they need to be positioned before the noun.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

How exactly do these differ and what purpose do the clear inconsistencies severe.

Prn. - Pat. - Prt. - Fut.
I. Was - Am - Will be
He, She, it. Was - Is - Will be
You, We, they. Were - Are - Will be
I, You, We, They. Had - Have - Will have
He, She, it. Had - Has - Will have
I, You, We, They. Did - do - Will do
He, She, it. Did - does - Will do

Hello D.Delicour,

I'm afraid I'm not sure what you mean. They differ exactly as you can see: different forms have different meanings (primarily in terms of time reference). As to the purpose of inconsistences the question presupposes that there is a defined purpose for linguistic structures and this is not the case. Languages grow organically through use and the systems and rules we have are descriptive, not proscriptive. In other words, we describe language as it is conventionally used; we do not set rules which must then be followed. Whether or not there are inconsistences is simply the result of how hundreds of millions of people use the language and how it evolves over time. There is no plan to this; it is organic, as I said.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I was just curious of how these arbitrary rules came to pass. I wanted to be sure primarily for an artificial auxiliary language, I am trying to construct, for personal use.

English is flatteringly praised for its grammatical freedom, and I want to emulate that while keeping the constructions sound fluidity flawless.

I have titled the language Braic. I have only yet written the rudiments.



I/Me - fó. My/Mine - fón. We/Us (speaker and affiliate) - feí. Our/Ours (speaker and affiliate) - feín
You - vó. Your/Yours - vón. You (listener and affiliate) - veí. Your/Yours (listener and affiliate) - veín
He/Him/She/Her/It - dó. His/Her/Hers/Its - dón. They - deí. Their - deín
We/Us (speaker and listener) - úó. Our/Ours (speaker and listener) - úón. We/Us (multiple speakers and/or listeners) - úeí. Our/Ours (multiple speakers and/or listeners) - úéín.

Possessive -n/-en
Plural -eí


some general rules:

noun -a (ex. coúva - government)
relating to -i (ex. coúvi - governmental)
verb -ec (ex. coúvec - govern)
adjective/adverb -d/-yd (ex. véd - green)

past particable -t/tic (ex. adect - added / tic adec - did add)
present partisable -té/téc (ex. adecté - adding / téc adec - am/is/are adding)
future particable -tó/tóc (ex.adectó - n/a / tóc adec - will add)

able -ází/áq (ex. kótáq/kótází - thinkable)
-ish/-esque -eck (ex. flyúeck - dampish)
-er -* (ex. leíb* - worker)

plural -eí (ex. ecpieí - Spaiards)
possesive -n/-en (ex. Danteín - Dantes / Deímíenen - Damions)

and so on...

Hello D.Delicour,

That sounds like a great project. I'd suggest you do an internet search for 'conlang', as I bet you could find others interested in your work.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Language Construction has always been a minor hobby of mine. Now I would really like to put all the knowledge I have acquired to good use. I want my language to be consistent in its phonetics while maintaining exceptional grammatical freedom. The language isn't designed for beauty, but instead for simplicity, spoken ease and concise wording. It is made to tackle dyslexia.

for example...
English - By that time my friends had all but lost hope.
Braic - cera fón freneí evé ludec epra. (sera forn frenay ever loodess epra)
English - The green gardens were laden with red roses.
Braic - ly véd edeneí latect en ru floreí. (liver dedenay latesten roo flo-ray.)
English - life in pink.
Braic - laía ne pas. (lie-anep-ash.

Which should I use when talking about an event in the past that is still true today:

2002 (is/was) the year the festival began.

Hello rjtkorea,

You can use either 'is' or 'was' in this sentence without any real change in meaning.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

If I said "What if I don't like it?" it would be wrong?
Thank you