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Past tense

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

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Past tense 2

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Comments

Hi,
I`m new in this site , I registered only to improve my grammar but it seems too complicated , i`m  kind of confused now because  the list of contents is too long and in a random order i assume ! (or it is not?)  , I was wondering if you could help me sort it out  that from which part i should start it? verbs? nouns? tenses? adjectives?adverbs?! 
Thanks for your help 
Anita

Can u teach me to learn english grammar?

when to use "had been" or "have been" or "has been"

Hello rasm!

That's a big question! Have/has been are present perfect. You can read about them on our present perfect page. The past perfect is usually only used when we tell stories; it is not as important as present perfect.

Hope that helps!

Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Adam
 
Would appreciate your help regarding the below:
which is correct?
I thought I should ask if u were busy? 
                            or
I thought I should ask if u are  busy?
 
Thanks n Regards

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