This tag is for questions related to usage of the past tense in English.

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27
votes
9answers
71k views

Is “errored” correct usage?

If "errored" is not a valid word, then how should I say: The program errored at line 44 I guess I could say: The program threw an error at line 44 But why is "errored" wrong? Is there a ...
1
vote
1answer
36 views

had not vs did not - past perfect [on hold]

I recently watched a YouTube tutorial which talks about right usage of past perfect tense. For negative sentences in past perfect, a simple rule to frame sentences is - Subject + hadn't + main verb ...
2
votes
2answers
135 views

“Until” followed by past perfect or past simple

Recently we have been learning tense sequence with using after, before and so on. One of them - until turned out troublesome for me. My first exercise was to write this sentence with until: not to ...
1
vote
0answers
19 views

“It's (high) time” vs. other uses of the past subjunctive

The most common usage of the past subjunctive is in counterfactual if statements: If I were you, I would eat more vegetables. Additionally, statements starting with "it's (high) time" are also ...
0
votes
2answers
78 views

Present or Past?

In this sentence: "It might be relaxing if you read a book" - why is the verb 'read' in past tense? Why isn't the verb 'read' in past tense with this example: "Why not read a book?" I'm just trying ...
1
vote
2answers
70 views

Sequence of tenses when some temporary action is still true

I got confused with the rule of the sequence of tenses. I found that when the action in the subordinate clause is a habitual action or general truth, we can use the present tense in the clause even if ...
0
votes
2answers
74 views

Using “done” instead of “did”

How does it work the use of the past participle done instead of the past tense did? Where is this form used? Only in southern U.S.? How often?
0
votes
1answer
33 views

Must + present perfect in a narration about past events

As far as I understand, the construction must + present perfect is used to make presumptions about past events with the connection to the present: Look, somebody must've been here - the stove is ...
-2
votes
2answers
61 views

What one should reply to - “Can I talk to Jeremy?”

Situation I receive a call caller asked me;" Can I talk to Jeremy?" What is correct reply and What should I respond to this situation with. he has gone for lunch. he went for lunch. he ...
3
votes
1answer
58 views

Words that are their own past tense

Does anyone know of a particular "rule" to know which words are their own past tense (such as "hurt"), and aren't modified for time? I'd like an easy rule to tell my students
0
votes
1answer
64 views

Using of tenses!

This year two Spanish novelists (have been awarded) or (were awarded) I have had an argument about this, I have chosen have been awarded but my friend says that Nobel is once a year, that's why ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

what does “it's time I told you” mean and why past tense here? [duplicate]

I'm watching Suits TV Series, and there was something that caught my attention. 2 guys meet, have a drink, chat, and then one guy says: I mean it's time I told you. I made a deal with Darby to ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

I didn't hear what you've said

Is the sentence I didn't hear what you've (just) said a natural one? Some tell me that it's unnatural, but not ungrammatical. Others tell me that it's all right. I'm puzzled. What do you think? ...
0
votes
2answers
340 views

Two past perfect verbs in the same sentence

Both these sentences contain two verbs (correct me if I'm wrong) that are in the past perfect tense. I'd like to ask how do they occur in chronological order. Though my question is related to the one ...
1
vote
2answers
133 views

Past Simple and Progressive; depending on the sentence?

My question is based on Past Simple and Past Progressive. I had a test a couple weeks ago, and there was this sentence with 2 verbs that you had to choose one to make the sentence true grammatically: ...
10
votes
1answer
3k views

UK English: Is “dived” a valid word?

Proofing a manuscript, I found this in the middle of a chase scene: Spotting an opening, I dived into it and was horrified to find it was a dead end. Is “dived” a valid past tense of the verb ...
0
votes
2answers
100 views

Can I use “when” to start a sentence with the past progressive?

My class is working on the past progressive and the simple past, and I was wondering if I can use when instead of while for the following sentence While I was eating, the bell rang. When I was ...
2
votes
3answers
46 views

Talking about general truths but within a context that uses past tense

Pikachu strolled along the street blissfully unaware that the Earth is round. or Pikachu strolled along the street blissfully unaware that the Earth was round. What is the ...
0
votes
1answer
4k views

He has just been offered or he was offered

What are the differences in meaning between these two sentences: He was just offered a well-paid job with Radio Four. (Past Simple Passive) He has just been offered a well-paid job with Radio ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

What tense is “You were unable to do it.”?

"You were unable to do it." Can you describe the tense of this sentence? Is it Past Progressive?
3
votes
1answer
54 views

What is the difference between 'past' and 'present perfect;?

Are they here? 1) Yes. They arrived. 2) Yes. They have arrived. I cannot understand what the difference is. Of course I know 1) is 'past' and 2) is 'present perfect' But in my country, ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

To tell the name of a person I met in the past

I have a basic grammar question about the past tense. If I met a guy yesterday, which tense should I use about his name today? For example, "Yesterday I met a guy, his name is/was John."
4
votes
2answers
267 views

What is the difference between “could've” and “could of”? [duplicate]

I have seen people using could of instead of could have. Are both of them correct? Is there a difference in meaning between them?
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Use didn't leave yet, or haven't left yet? Can we use ''YET'' in past tense or not? [closed]

My knowledge of English grammar is very basic. I learned English mostly from movies and a lot of times I choose a specific way to say something in English based on intuition or the feeling that it ...
0
votes
1answer
209 views

Would it be 'meet' or 'have met' in this structure?

If I bumped into someone, who happened to be called John, yesterday, and I am telling someone else of the encounter, would I say: I happened to meet John yesterday. or I happened to have ...
0
votes
1answer
274 views

Which tense should use? Present Perfect or Past?

Whici of the following sentence is correct? "I have talked with him today and he said that he is well" or "I talked with him today and he said that he is well" Which tense I need to use at the ...
2
votes
2answers
51 views

past simple vs present perfect in this example

A:Why is Lisa so upset about her trip ? B:She (had her luggage searched) three times. The answer in the workbook( "Grammar in Use") shows 'had her luggage searched' is the correct answer. I'm a ...
-1
votes
1answer
38 views

Are or Were? Which linking verb would satisfy this sentence [closed]

In 2003, around 80% of North America's population (are/were) urban area residents. Is the whole sentence grammatically correct?
1
vote
1answer
67 views

Past simple + before + past perfect [closed]

Is it grammatically correct to employ the past simple + the word "before" + past perfect structure? For example: "I borrowed the CD before he had listened to it." I have been told that it is ...
0
votes
1answer
58 views

Can you say: “I wanted to ask, so I could know..” [closed]

On an email I saw this sentence and was wondering what it means? I wanted to ask you a few questions, so I would know what to start with. Does it mean that after I ask, I will know what to ...
0
votes
2answers
71 views

Difference in meaning: past perfect and simple past

She lived in Switzerland for ten years when she was a child. or She had lived in Switzerland for ten years when she was a child. Being a non-native speaker, sometimes i get confused.
1
vote
1answer
105 views

Passengers heard 'screaming' - who was doing the “hearing”?

Passengers heard 'screaming' I feel this phrase could be interpreted in two ways: 1) The passengers could and did hear screaming (from someone else). 2) Someone else could and did hear the ...
1
vote
2answers
724 views

Simple Past or Past Perfect

If I went to a place last night where I needed to show an id, but I forgot to have it on me. So if in the morning I was speaking to a friend(reporting on what happened), which one of the following ...
0
votes
0answers
32 views

Use of past or present tense in references?

Helping a friend with a poorly translated English paper and wondered about this: the source has the writer make reference to documents prepared the 1990s (agreements prepared but never signed by ...
2
votes
2answers
70 views

Present perfect or past simple - “the best movie I (saw/'ve seen) this year”

I know the rule is to use past simple when you specify the time when the described action happened, but I strangely dislike this sentence and I'm not sure if the rule applies: "It's the best movie I ...
1
vote
2answers
39 views

Is there an error in tenses here?

"Your (noun) was (past test verb) before it was (different past tense verb)" OR "Your (noun) is (past test verb) before it was (different past tense verb)" The second one sounds more natural to me, ...
1
vote
0answers
52 views

Did I use Past tenses correctly in this sentence? [closed]

Is the sentence A: I used to play guitar, but now that I have bought a harmonica, I mostly play harmonica. more correct than sentence B: I have played guitar earlier, but now that I have ...
0
votes
0answers
21 views

I saw him going to city. I saw him go to city [duplicate]

1:I saw him going to city. 2:I saw him go to city. First one refers to Gerund. Second one refers to infinite. Do they have the same meanings or changed? Define it with reasons.
0
votes
1answer
303 views

I was able to re-introduce the process that had not been done anymore. Past perfect?

I am not sure whether or not there should be past simple or past perfect: I was able to re-introduce the procedure that had not been being followed anymore. I was able to re-introduce the ...
11
votes
5answers
5k views

“I have never said” versus “I never said”

I have never said this. I never said this. Is the usage of have in the first sentence justified or grammatically correct?
1
vote
2answers
101 views

Graduate or graduated ?

When I want to describe my self .. Should I say I'm a graduate or graduated student in .. What is more accurate ? Past or present ? P.s: I have a bachelor degree and I'm not planning currently to ...
1
vote
0answers
36 views

Unusual example of past and present combination [closed]

I understand past and present can often appear in the same sentence, but I have one example that's bothering me. In a past tense work of fiction, should the line be: That's when I noticed what ...
0
votes
1answer
95 views

Correct grammatical form for a conditional statement describing a habit in the past

Let's say I want to describe a habit in the past (something that happened many times over and over again) in the form of a conditional statement. Is the following sentence grammatically correct? ...
0
votes
0answers
17 views

Nested Flashback - Past perfect tense w/in present tense or Past tense w/in past tense or Past perfect tense w/in past tense

So, someone from ELL suggested that I ask my question on this forum. I do not want to know if nested flashbacks are okay. I am simply asking about tense. Thanks for the help! Question is below: ...
1
vote
2answers
70 views

How do I distinguish simple past and past perfect with “should”?

One type of construction that has always bugged me is the distinction between should (past tense of shall), and its past perfect form. Assume a character, let's call him John: He lost the poker ...
1
vote
1answer
94 views

Have you seen or did you see?

In US, when people work together, they may look for a colleague or any person to tell something or for any other reason, asking other collegues/people such a question: have you seen Michael or did you ...
0
votes
3answers
475 views

I noticed vs I have noticed [duplicate]

Is there a difference between I noticed and I have noticed? What is the correct use of each of these? Thanks
1
vote
1answer
56 views

Did + multiple bare infinitives in a question

What is the proper way to combine past tense of do (did) with multiple bare infinitives in a question: Did you go to vacation or stay at home? Did you go to vacation or stayed at home? Did you go to ...
3
votes
2answers
130 views

Using Past-tense or Present-tense for verbs

I found a perfect example on the internet about what I am trying to ask. Take a look at this: "Mr. Dilger wants to see you." Mr. Bruce went on to say. "It's about the same thing. I thought I'd ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

Question about the usage of “WAS”

I have a question that really confuses me. Imagine I was chatting with my friends in a cafe, and friendA walked out the place for whatever reason. FriendB replied "she was beautiful," in this case ...