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Past Tense


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1.Past Indefinite or Past Simple Tense:

Form:

(a)With all subjects, the second form of the verb is used in the affirmative structures.
(b)In negative sentences, the first form of the verb is used with ‘did not’ or ‘didn’t’.
(c)In interrogative sentences, ‘did’ is used in the beginning and the first form of the verb is used after the subject.

Uses of Past Indefinite or Past Simple Tense:

(a)To describe an action which took place in the past and was completed at a definite time.
(b)To describe a custom or habitual action in the past.
(c)To describe a past action which occupied a period of time in the past and is over now.
(d)To describe an action which took place in the past, even though the time is not mentioned.
(e)To describe an action actually going on at the same time as another. Here Past Indefinite is used in place of the Past Continuous Tense.


2. Past Continuous Tense:

Form:

(a)In this tense ‘was’ is used with first person singular and third person singular subjects and ‘were’ is used with all other subjects.
(b)‘ing’ is added to the first form of the verb.
(c)In negative sentences, ‘not’ is used after ‘was/were’ and before the verb. In informal and spoken English ‘wasn’t’ and ‘weren’t’ are preferred to ‘was not’ and ‘were not’.
(d)In interrogative sentences, ‘was/were’ is used before the subject.

Uses of Past Continuous Tense:

(a)To express the continuity of an action which was going on in the past.
(b)To indicate the gradual development of an event or action.
(c)To describe the progress of an action, when another action took place.
(d)To describe two actions taking place at the same time in the past.
(e)To express anger, irritation, annoyance or disapproval of a frequently repeated past action, when accompanied by some adverb like always, continually, constantly.


3.Past Perfect Tense:

Form :

(a)In this tense, third form of the verb is used with ‘had’.
(b)In negative sentences, ‘not’ is used after ‘had’. The contracted form would be hadn’t.
(c)In interrogative sentences, ‘had’ is used in the beginning of the sentence.

Uses of Past Perfect Tense:

(a)To describe an action which had been completed before another action took place in the past.
(b)To express a condition not fulfilled in the past.
(c)To indicate a hope, wish, desire or intention which was not fulfilled in the past.


4.Past Perfect continuous Tense:

Form:

(a)In this tense, ‘had been’ is used and ‘ing’ is added to the first form of verb.
(b)In negative sentences, ‘had not been’/’hadn’t been’ is used.
(c)In interrogative sentences, ‘had’ is used before the subject and ‘been’ is used after the subject.
(d)‘For’ is used for the period of time, like two hours, three days, four weeks, five months, six years, etc.
(e)‘Since’ is used for point of time like, Monday, yesterday, 7 o’clock, 1993, etc.

Uses of Past Perfect continuous Tense:

(a)To express an action which had been going on for some time before another past action took place.



Sample Usage

Examples:


1.Past Indefinite or Past Simple Tense.

(a)The mad dog bit any people.
(b)The mad dog did not bite any people.
(c)Did the mad dog bite any people?
(d)Did the mad dog not bite any people?
(e)He sold his old car last week.
(f)My grandmother told me a story last night.
(g)We stayed with them for three years.
(h)The hunter aimed at the tiger.
(i)He worked while others slept.


2.Past Continuous Tense:

(a)Monkeys were dancing merrily.
(b)Monkeys were not dancing merrily.
(c)Were monkeys dancing merrily?
(d)Were monkeys not dancing merrily?
(e)The train was running at full speed.
(f)She was growing fat.
(g)We were sleeping, when they came.
(h)The students were laughing, when the Principal was singing.
(i)They were always talking ill of others.


3.Past Perfect Tense:

(a)The police had caught the thief.
(b)The police had not caught the thief.
(c)Had the police caught the thief?
(d)Had the police not caught the thief?
(e)India had won freedom before Mahatma Gandhi died.
(f)If you had run, you would have caught the train.
(g)He had hoped to stand first, but he failed.


4.Past Perfect Continuous Tense:

(a)You had been cheating us.
(b)You had not been cheating us.
(c)Had you been cheating us?
(d)Had you not been cheating us?
(e)She had been reading a novel for a few hours when I went to see her.



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