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:
|I was working
|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.