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 – things that are imagined rather than true.
  • for politeness.

There are four past tense forms in English:

Tense Form
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 since July.

  • to refer to the present or future in conditions:

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

and hypotheses:

It might be dangerous. Suppose they got lost.
I would always help someone who really needed help.

and wishes:

I wish it wasn’t so cold.

  • In conditions, hypotheses and wishes, if we want to talk about the past, we always use the past perfect:

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

 

  • We can use the past forms 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.

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hello crownriches,

For most people, it's quite difficult to master a new language. Trying to think in the new language is certainly a good way to practise it, so I'd encourage you to do it as much as possible. There are some other useful tips on how to get the most out of our site on our Frequently asked questions page.

As for the sentences you asked about, in the first, 'didn't' is the correct form. You could also use the present perfect ('haven't just moved'). In the second and fourth sentences, both 'was' and 'is' are correct. If you use the past form, it gives a bit more sense of the past moment, but they mean the same thing.

I'm afraid I don't understand what you're asking in your third question. Please feel free to ask again, but please explain it a bit more.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Hello help me out with these; something happened and someone said this is on me, and another person responded this wasn't your fault.
What's d difference: what u just said wasn't nonsense and what u just said isn't nonsense

Hello crownriches,

In most contexts there is no difference. If we say ...wasn't nonsense... then we are referring to something at the moment of speaking. However, this does not mean that it is not still the case now. If we say ...isn't nonsense... then we make it clear that it is still true now. The only difference would be if what was said was nonsense then but now makes sense, which is fairly unlikely.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Which are correct; l didn't know it was u or l didn't know it is u
Successive presidents have maintained d culture of excellence and tradition of being d best up to my predecessor who also passed it on to me or
Successive presidents had maintained d culture of excellence and tradition of being d best up to my predecessor who also passed it on to me

Hello crownriches,

We use the present perfect only when there is an unfinished time period. In this example the time period is finished as it says 'up to my predecessor'. Therefore 'have maintained' is certainly incorrect.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
I'd like to know if this sentence is correct:
if I had stayed in my last job, I wouldn't been unemployee right now.
I'm not sure if is mandatory put 'have' after wouldn't.
Thanks a lot for your feedback

Hello felipeur,

The correct sentence is:

 

If I had stayed in my last job, I wouldn't be unemployed right now.

 

As the result is a present result we need 'wound't be'. For past results we use 'wouldn't have been'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,pls.help me figure out the difference between these two:
"I had to stopped by to tell him that i wouldnt be at the group meeting at the school that evening" but my friend told me that it should be "I stopped by to tell him that i wouldnt be at the group meeting at the school that evening" are these the same ?.

hello harmonicalove17,

Your friend is correct: the first sentence is not grammatical and the second sentence is correct.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for making it clear

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