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

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2
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4answers
429 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
1answer
6k views

What does “I was had” mean?

Maybe he would help me with Deborah's pablum, take turns pushing the wheelchair. It's good to have someone. That reminded me that I had someone -- or perhaps I was had. In any case, Rita would ...
0
votes
4answers
16k views

I lived vs I used to live

I cannot see any difference between these two sentences. I assume both express the same but what is the difference? I thought that "used to" is used to describe an action that was happening in the ...
11
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."
10
votes
5answers
24k 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 ...
7
votes
8answers
811 views

Differentiate between past and present just by pronunciation when word is followed by d- or similiar sound

How can we distinguish, for example, these two sentences just by listening to the pronunciation? They first kill the trees. They first killed the trees. When pronouncing kill the trees, ...
3
votes
3answers
865 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 ...
3
votes
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
2answers
6k views

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

Why is the form "flied" used in baseball instead of "flew"?
2
votes
2answers
940 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
3k 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
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 ...
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 ...
0
votes
2answers
414 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
138 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
51k 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?
-1
votes
3answers
341 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
29k 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
8
votes
2answers
22k 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.
9
votes
3answers
69k 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? ...
4
votes
2answers
802 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, ...
15
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
725 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".
0
votes
1answer
369 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
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? ...
12
votes
2answers
32k 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?" ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is “the test is failed” acceptable?

In software interfaces, technical documentation, scientific documentation and legal documents, I see phrases like: The build is failed. The test is failed. If the test is failed,... It ...
4
votes
1answer
15k 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?
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 ...
2
votes
3answers
2k 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
1answer
276 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
3answers
1k views

When telling a story and describing objects in the story, should the objects be referred to in past tense or present tense? [closed]

When describing objects in telling a story, should the objects be referred to in past tense or present tense, if the effects of the story still hold true on them? Since it is a story it should be in ...
1
vote
1answer
6k 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
225 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
183 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
3answers
2k 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 ...
-2
votes
2answers
13k 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
531 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
23k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
247 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
5k 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
82 views

Why are there many internet grammar lesson examples using past perfect with “before” but not with “after”? [closed]

I know that I have to use past perfect when using before. I had eaten before I swam. But why don't I need to use past perfect with after? I swam after I ate. Thank you guys for the ...
2
votes
1answer
95 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
64 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
532 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
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 ...
2
votes
3answers
9k 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
608 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
1answer
559 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
2answers
8k 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 ...