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

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4
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2answers
5k views

“Why couldn't” vs. “why couldn't you have”

Reading Harry Potter 2, I came across the following, and I wonder if the use of couldn't have is the equivalent of couldn't in this context? "I have got a question, Oliver," said George, who had ...
3
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2answers
7k views

When and why is “flied” used as the past tense of “fly”?

Why is the form "flied" used in baseball instead of "flew"?
3
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2answers
2k views

“Would you have liked to have been” vs. “would you have liked to be”

I was interested in the following sentence which appeared in an article titled “No Rest for the Weary” in The New York Times (February 15, 2008). Would you have liked to have been president from ...
3
votes
3answers
888 views

Correct tense for events which happend long time ago but still have direct connection with present time

Suppose that a man disappeared twenty years ago and I haven't had a notice about him since then. What should I say to my interlocutor if I want to tell him about this story? You know, Harry has ...
2
votes
3answers
623 views

Mixing tenses in past tense fiction

In past tense works (novels, etc.) is there a place for some present tense verbs, such as "think" or "know" or "was." Example: I turned to leave, and he didn't try to stop me. I think I surprised him....
2
votes
2answers
952 views

Using verb tenses correctly

I'm trying to keep this descriptive essay in the past tense. I bolded the words of my concern (and italicized the ones I believe are in the right tense) in the following passage: As a result of ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Should I use present tense in reporting speech?

Should I use present tense in reported speech? I have both sentences and not sure which one is correct: (1) Peter mentioned that the formula A is based on formula B. (2) Peter mentioned that the ...
1
vote
1answer
3k views

Is it grammatically correct to change tense in a sentence? [duplicate]

When writing a sentence, can I change from past-tense to present-tense in the middle of it? For example, Joey realized that the ball is green. or Joey realized that the ball was green. I ...
1
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5answers
3k views

Present Perfect with the word “ago”?

First, I check that my native language is not English, and the problem described below met on one of the exams. With this sentence: "The most important news is that my parents ... a new ...
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2answers
6k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
191 views

“have found” vs. “found”

In the song, you can hear how she pours her heart out with such intense emotions in her clear, powerful voice, complaining why everything in her life has gone so wrong. Please just listen to her ...
0
votes
2answers
468 views

Can we use “Now” (not until now or until then) in past tense sentences

I wrote this to my friends a few days ago: (1) It used to take 5 seconds for me to reach Youtube, now it only took me 2 seconds to do it. I used "now" to refer to the moment when I installed a faster ...
-1
votes
3answers
362 views

Stating facts that occured in the past

We were shocked when we found/find out the toilet had/has no flush. My natural intuition would lead me to write this way: We were shocked when we found out the toilet had no flush. Then I ...
13
votes
2answers
5k views

Past tense and “rather than”

I found myself with a sentence like this, using "accept" in the infinitive form after "rather than": They left the club, rather than accept the terms. But I'm unsure of its grammatical soundness....
11
votes
3answers
31k views

“…didn't finish…yet” versus “…haven't finished…yet”

If I worked on something yesterday but it was not finished, which tense should I use? I didn't finish it yet or I haven't finished it yet
10
votes
3answers
76k views

Difference between 'haven't …yet' and 'didn't… yet'

I was wondering what the difference was between a sentence with have and one with do. For example this one: They haven't started yet. They didn't start yet. Is there a difference?  ...
9
votes
2answers
24k views

Is “should” ever used as past tense of “shall”?

Looking at the dictionary, I read that should has origin as past tense of shall. In the modern English, is should ever used as past tense of shall? ORIGIN Old English sceolde: past of shall.
4
votes
2answers
899 views

Can “earlier this year” be used in the present perfect?

Is "earlier this year" a specific time reference? i.e. Can you say (A) is definitely wrong and (B) is right? (A) Earlier this year, ABC, Inc., has conducted a survey. (B) Earlier this year, ABC, ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

Are the verbs that are conjugated to end in “-n” in the past related?

There are many words that in English are conjugated in the past tense to end in "-n": grow goes to grown, sew goes to sewn, throw goes to thrown, etc.. I'm guessing it was probably the regular ...
5
votes
4answers
746 views

“I left before they had decided what to do” Why is 'decided' in the past perfect?

I left before they had decided what to do. Is this because this is a past version of "I leave before they have decided what to do"? Because "left" doesn't come before "decided".
3
votes
3answers
1k views

The use of “will” in assumptions

We can use will for both past and future assumptions. But how do we differentiate if it refers to past assurance or future possibility? For example: You will know all about Rachel, of course. ...
0
votes
1answer
408 views

it “went” without saying?

I was reading a traveling novel and came across this sentence: We all caught the metro back to the centre of town at about midnight, drunk and very happy. It goes without saying that the carriage ...
12
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6answers
2k views

How can I change the tense of a hyphenated verb?

I'm certain this can't be the only example there is of a hyphenated verb, but it's the only one I can think of right now. How should one appropriately convert "mouse-over" into the past tense? ...
12
votes
2answers
33k views

Past tense of “to wing”?

Is there a past tense of the verb "to wing," meaning to make up on the fly? Inspired by a blog post of Wil Wheaton, quoted partially below. "Is it from a recipe, or are you winging it?" "I'...
12
votes
5answers
25k views

What is the past tense of “sync”?

I've always believed the past tense of sync ("I sync my phone with my computer") to be synced ("I synced my phone with my computer yesterday"). This question would seem to suggest either synced or ...
8
votes
3answers
539 views

What difference does using 'had' make to those two verb tenses, and if so, what is it?

What is the difference between if I had studied and if I studied? Can you provide an example of when one usage would be more appropriate than the other?
4
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1answer
17k views

What is the difference between “I forgot” and “I had forgot”?

I forgot versus I had forgot. What is the difference between the two phrases?
4
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2answers
29k views

“Has been” vs. “was”

Should one use has been or was in the following sentence, and why? For many years the USA has been a British colony. For many years the USA was a British colony.
3
votes
2answers
2k views

How to describe the future in the past

I've always used would as the past tense of will: Present: Tomorrow, I will go to the beach. Past: The following day, I would go to the beach. However, in response to my question on Writers....
1
vote
1answer
292 views

Present Perfect for the past? [duplicate]

I've come across the - more or less - following sentence in a book (American publisher): "They have done it in the past" I've always thought that "PAST" and "PRESENT PERFECT" can't go together. The ...
1
vote
1answer
7k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
192 views

Present perfect and Past tense in a specific place

Have you seen/Did you see my shoes in here Do I have to say Did you see because it happened in a specific place?
0
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2answers
251 views

Does tense change when the narrator (present) writes about what a person (past) could have said about their time?

Does tense change when the narrator (present) writes about what a person (past) could have said about their time? For example A person who lived during 1790 could truthfully claim that Washington ...
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votes
2answers
14k views

“Became” vs “become”

I'm not sure about the verb tense I should use here: Run this definition so that the previous changes become/became visible. I think the correct one is Present Simple but it sounds better with ...
11
votes
1answer
535 views

What is the name for the grammatical figure, where the present tense is substituted for a past event?

I am preparing a book for publication which contains the following passage: Stromberg in Religious Liberalism in Eighteenth-Century England (1954) noted that 'the critical moment in the ...
6
votes
2answers
35k views

Why do we say and write “read” instead of “readed” for the past? [closed]

Why do we write read unchanged for present and past, while study changes; we have studied. The present form of read is read, pronounced as "reed". The past form of read is also read but it is ...
4
votes
2answers
6k views

Differences in Past Tense: 'used to have' vs. 'had' (non-native speaker)

I don't understand the difference between these sentences. Is there a special usage for each? I used to have three cats and I had three cats
2
votes
1answer
641 views

I was sat thinking why you were stood there before I was took away by the word police [duplicate]

I know my sentence is dreadful but everyone now uses these words in this way, including my eight children aged 19—26. Yes, they are from Manchester but my husband uses he was took and he’s from ...
2
votes
2answers
9k views

“Until” and past perfect

Having seen one sentence in "Practical English Usage" by M.Swan (a very popular grammar book), I was really puzzled. I waited until the rain had stopped. The past perfect is generally used to ...
2
votes
3answers
10k views

“While” followed by simple past/past continuous

I'm currently reading "Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue" by Hugh Howey. Here's a short passage with my problem zone and the subsequent question: ...Well, I'm going to go do more Officser sstuff,"...
2
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4answers
537 views

Why “can” not “could” in “She was one of those people who can. . . .”?

The following sentence is from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, occurring in chapter 5 of part 2: She was one of those people who can go to sleep at any hour and in any position. Why is ...
2
votes
1answer
104 views

Past Perfect and Past Simple in AmE

I've recently been told that Past Perfect and Past Simple tenses are interchangeable in AmE. I know that it is possible to use the Past Simple tense instead of the Present Perfect one in AmE but have ...
2
votes
1answer
74 views

Using the word 'former' in this context?

I'm writing a document about my study progress. I'm about to refer to the tutor I had last year for a certain school subject that I didn't pass. So I have to write about catching up and handing in the ...
1
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1answer
687 views

Past vs Past Perfect

While writing a paper for my English class, I couldn't decided whether past or past perfect tense was needed. It's basically about how a guy whose house is destroyed because the government wants to ...
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2answers
2k views

Two past perfect verbs in the same sentence even though sequence is indicated

A group of environmentalists helped direct several small sharks that had lost their way after they had swum through polluted waters to migrate South. Swimming comes before losing the way, yet both ...
1
vote
4answers
411 views

A prediction made in the past that affects something we will do in the future

Please ignore the factual accuracy of this sentence and focus on the tenses used. If the Mayans were wrong to end the calendar on Dec. 20, 2012, we'll use your donation to fund 2013 programming. ...
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vote
4answers
4k views

Difference between “would have” and “would” in the following

When we talk about past habitual or behavioral events, what is the difference between the following two sentences? Every once in a while I would go to this friend's house and we would get into a ...
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4answers
1k views

If a statement is in the present perfect, should the tense be repeated in the next question?

Here's a conversation: Speaker 1: I have already seen this film. Speaker 2: When have you seen it? [OR] When did you see it? Speaker 1: Last month. The two questions uttered by Speaker 2 ...
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vote
2answers
101 views

The Use of the Present Perfect. What is natural?

Sometimes, I got really confused by the use of the Present Perfect tense. Given the fact, that we don't have this structure in Russian, all we can is to base our knowledge on grammar rules. The ...
0
votes
3answers
57k views

“I met” vs “I've met” [closed]

What's the difference between the following? I met him in the UK. I've met him in the UK. Does the second sentence mean that the event was happened recently?