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

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65 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 ...
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2answers
326 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 ...
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2answers
47 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, ...
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0answers
24 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.
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2answers
5k 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 ...
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1answer
65 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: ...
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2answers
224 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 ...
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3answers
12k 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
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1answer
1k views

“Have you seen…” or “Did you see…?”

In the US, when people work together, they may look for a colleague or any person to say something or for any other reason, asking colleagues or other people this type of question: Have you ...
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1answer
81 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 ...
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2answers
970 views

The difference between “past continuous” and “present perfect continuous”

Let's consider the following context: You come to the office on Saturday and see somebody finish some actions and now (s)he is sitting at your workplace (you didn't expect to meet anyone), ...
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2answers
254 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 ...
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1answer
78 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 ...
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1answer
555 views

What's the proper and formal way of asking “Didn't we used to do …”? [duplicate]

I saw it used in an article online, and it doesn't seem proper to me because of the two past tenses used together. But since "use to" can't be used here, I don't know what would be the proper way. ...
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0answers
34 views

verb tense agreement [duplicate]

I was named even before I was born. Is this correct? or I had been named even before I was born In the first sentence, the even before word clarifies the time frame. Do we still need to ...
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1answer
361 views

Referring to results in past or present tense [closed]

When I am reporting the status of some results, should I use past tense? For example, would it be correct to say, when the test result was announced in the past, "Your test result was failed. I am ...
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1answer
171 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? ...
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0answers
481 views

verb +ed or to be + verb +ed

I don't quite know the explanation to this. When they arrived, they found the door locked from inside. When they arrived, they found the door was locked from inside Locked sounds better than was ...
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3answers
289 views

What is his name again? vs. What was his name again?

Which sentence from the title sounds more natural when asking for clarification about something which has already been discussed? Is one tense preferable overall? Take the following examples: ...
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2answers
139 views

Which tense is (more) correct in this sentence, the present perfect or past simple?

The sentence is: "These investigations have seen several officials arrested." I'm not sure which tense I should use, the present perfect here seems more natural to me but I can't seem to find a rule ...
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2answers
92 views

asked + lived/lives

I asked where he lives/lived. I'm confused between lives or lived. Some say only lived can be used while others say both lived and lives can be used.
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2answers
129 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 ...
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1answer
362 views

What tense should be used when present/past perfect is used?

Here is my sentence of which I am having some troubles ascertaining the grammatical correctness: I think that Rachel has told Brady that Bert would admit to the judge what he has taught about ...
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2answers
338 views

The ambulance is on its way. There's been an accident?

Why hasn't the simple past been used rather than the present perfect in this sentence ''The ambulance is on its way to Beck's house. There's been an accident'' Why not: ''there was an accident'' It ...
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1answer
199 views

Is the question “If you didn't break the vase, who did?” a conditional sentence?

My problem is that I was taught (I think wrongly) that whenever a conditional sentence refers to past, there should be past perfect tense in the if clause, as in example 1. Example 1: If you hadn'...
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2answers
589 views

Is “I shut up” proper english grammar [closed]

So I saw that "shutted" isn't an English word, but "I shut up" doesn't sound proper. If you were to tell someone "I shut up", talking in past tense, would that be proper?
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2answers
143 views

What's the difference between “… you have completed the task” and “… you completed the task”? [closed]

Is there any difference in the meaning of the following sentences? Or do they mean the exact same thing? By doing both, you have completed the task. By doing both, you completed the task.
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1answer
366 views

I'd been sent to kill him / I was sent to kill him. etc..?

When do I use had and when can I leave out had? or use was instead of had This is the context it was used in: With the Reds and the Germans knocking seven shades of shit each other back at Museum ...
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3answers
403 views

It was dark by now [duplicate]

Does the following sentence make any sense? "It was dark by now, and I realized that it was time to [...]," If it was an occurrence in the past, then wouldn't referencing it as "now" be ...
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2answers
767 views

Which tense to describe the analysis on a dataset? [closed]

It is normal to analyze a dataset in a paper. I am not sure when to use present/past tense to describe how you analyze the data and what your results are. Here I use a short example text to illustrate ...
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1answer
108 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 ...
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1answer
3k views

Begun or began? [closed]

whether to use begin began or begun seems to be well covered, but i'm wondering which feels natural or better, had begun or had began when talking about someone doing something.
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2answers
135 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 ...
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3answers
90 views

How to use have/had in relation to a past tense action?

Lucy thanked me for what I have/had done? Here the action of 'thanking' is being done as a result of something that happens prior to 'thanking'. 'Thanked' shows the action has already been completed. ...
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1answer
2k 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 ...
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2answers
242 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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1answer
115 views

Is 'walked' the correct tense in this paragraph? [closed]

The next folder she opened contained something that neither of them had expected: five photos of Emily’s brother. They had been taken while James walked through a glass door.
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2answers
736 views

using both Past Simple and Past Perfect in the same paragraph

Is there a rule about consistency within a paragraph, of using past tense and past participle in alternate sentences? In my writing class, I notice some writers mix the two freely. Since I see this ...
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2answers
2k views

Can “when verb+ing” refer to an activity in the past?

A correct sentence would be: When they were designing the product, they paid attention to... Is this grammatically correct: When designing the product, attention was paid...
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2answers
449 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 ...
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1answer
163 views

Present tense in Flashback story for something that is still true now?

I'm wondering whether I should use the present tense for a descriptive statement but in a past context. For example: (1) I went to the zoo and saw a giraffe last week. (2) Giraffe is a mammal with ...
5
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1answer
578 views

Origin of irregular ending “-ught” for past simple and participle

There is a little group of irregular verbs in English that follow a similar pattern, having "-ught" as their ending for past simple and for participle. These verbs are among the group of most used ...
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2answers
582 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 ...
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1answer
254 views

using “if” - when to use present tense, and when to use past tense?

As a native speaker of English, these two sentences sound acceptable to me: A full refund can be claimed if the school fails to provide a textbook. A full refund could be claimed if the ...
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3answers
373 views

reporting past simple tense [closed]

Choose: He said that while he was watching television, the light (went/had gone) out. Some people say that past simple tense doesn't change in indirect speech, but my teacher says that the direct ...
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3answers
193 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 ...
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2answers
2k views

to be + past participle

I wanted to ask a lot of questions concerning this phrase: I always consult with my children who are affected by the decisions to be made. What role does the particle "to" perform in this ...
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0answers
24 views

Describe the grammatical error in the sentence [duplicate]

"I did went to the movie" Describe the grammatical error in the sentence. I know that it is wrong but I am not able to explain it to my younger brother.
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2answers
104 views

“is + past tense verb”. Sugar is added or sugar added?

How to say correctly: 1) Sugar is added to the coffee. 2) Sugar added to the coffee. or 1) Software is tested successfully. 2) Software tested successfully. Thank you in advance
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0answers
324 views

Which is correct “was” or“ were”? [duplicate]

It's hard to imagine a pine tree wishing it was an oak. It's hard to imagine a pine tree wishing it were an oak. Which is correct sentence?