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

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15
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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 ...
12
votes
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? ...
8
votes
3answers
494 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?
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Should the past perfect be eschewed?

The past perfect serves a purpose: When describing things that happened in the past, it allows us to discuss things that happened before (i.e., in the past’s past). However, a procession of had, had, ...
1
vote
2answers
19k views

Was vs had been

I guess this question has been asked before, but please take a look the following sentence and tell me if there is a difference between them. When the transaction had been completed, A was still a ...
0
votes
3answers
460 views

“Could have avoided” vs “could avoid”

This is a line from a fiction in which a killer says to the good guy For what it's worth I had hoped we could have avoided this day". I mean why not say "For what it's worth I had hoped we ...
0
votes
1answer
3k views

He has just been offered or he was offered

What are the differences in meaning between the below 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 ...
-2
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
20k 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?" ...
6
votes
5answers
15k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
204 views

Why is the progressive form used here?

In February 1825 he married Julianne Thiemer, daughter of a property owner and well-established glove-maker in Seesen. Heinrich, a cabinet maker without property, a Beiwohner(boarder), was marrying ...
4
votes
2answers
3k 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
4
votes
1answer
9k 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?
2
votes
4answers
476 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
4answers
221 views

There is a current trend of using past tense, when meaning present tense.

For example, someone on the phone said, "I was calling to ask for a form," when she meant to say, "I am calling to ask for a form." I hear this consistently, and usually in customer service ...
2
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
378 views

American native speaker and perfect tenses

Yesterday I sent my friend a useful gift in online game. Today I can see he has not accepted it yet. Which sentence is grammatically correct and most natural in American English? "You didn't ...
2
votes
1answer
4k views

Did you ever hear(see, do, anything else) vs. Have you ever(seen, done, and so on) heard? [closed]

What's correct? If both, what is the difference between these questions? An example from The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: MacDonald turned over the letter which Holmes had handed ...
2
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
815 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
292 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. ...
1
vote
4answers
2k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
100 views

is this sentence all in the past tense? I'm struggling to write in the past tense but use active words?

The turf wicket at Cook reserve in Bedford has been vandalised on Sunday after diesel was poured liberally across all five cricket pitches, rendering them unusable.
0
votes
2answers
93 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
votes
2answers
730 views

Simple Past and Present Perfect [closed]

could you possibly enlighten me about any differences between 2 sentences below: (a) I went to Warsaw this year. (b) I have been to Warsaw this year. Thank you very much in advance!
0
votes
3answers
870 views

Present perfect and simple past

Here's a conversation: Speaker1: I have already seen this film. Speaker2: When have you seen it? [OR] When did you see it? Speaker1: Last month. Are both of the responses from Speaker2 ...
-1
votes
2answers
455 views

Present Perfect Vs Present Perfect Continuous and Simple Past/ Past Perfect Vs Past Perfect Continuous [closed]

What is the difference in meanings of the following pairs of sentences? It's very confusing to me. a. I have lived in Paris for 4 years. b. I have been living in Paris for 4 years. a. I ...
-1
votes
1answer
99 views

The future as reported in the past

Is (1) correct, or must it be written as (2)? John told me yesterday that this contract will not be renewed when it ends next month. John told me yesterday that this contract would not be ...
-2
votes
1answer
790 views

Past or present perfect tense for event happened last night [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do the tenses in English correspond temporally to one another? Since watching TV is a completed action which happened last night, which one is correct? Last ...