Friday, November 26, 2010

Grammar: Learning English Past Tenses

Simple Past Tense
  • Make statements of fact or opinion about condition in the past.
  • Express definite time in the remote past
  • Indicate daily, frequent, or repetitive remote occurrence.
                   Every few minutes, she checked to see if he was still conscious.
                   Day after day, he sat dejected in this blocked-out world.
                   He went away three minutes ago.
  • “Used To” denotes a habitual action performed in the past but no longer done in the present. When you say, “I used to go to the movie on Sunday”, you mean that you don’t go to the movies every Sunday.
Past Progressive Tense
  • It is used to express temporary activities which were in progress at the time of another activity in the past. The duration of the temporary activity may be relatively long or short. The other activity is usually expressed in another clause.
                             I was studying when he telephoned.
                             He was feeling better when the doctor arrived.
  • It is used to express activities that were in progress at a point of time in the past. This point of time is usually established by a modifier indicating time.
                    Where was John last week? He was working on his thesis.
                    Were you living here last year?       No, I was staying in China.
Past Perfect Tense
  • Denotes an action which took place before another past action. It is to be considered in relation to a past action. The conjunctions indicating the relationship between the two past actions may be “before”, “when”, “after”. This tense is formed by putting the helping verb “had” before the past participle form of the main verb. Because of this, the past perfect tense is called the “had-tense”.
                    Greg had already left when his grandmother arrived.
                    I did my homework after I had studied.
Past Perfect Progressive Tense
  • The progressive aspect of the past perfect.
                    He had been living there a year when he decided to move to China.