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

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past continuous tense ~ negative interrogative form

Method 1: wasn't/weren't + subject + verb(ing) + object? Method 2: was/were + subject + not + verb(ing) + object ? Which method correct in past continuous tense ~ negative interrogative form? Or ...
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1answer
7k views

“Dream, dreamt” and “learn, learnt” irregular verbs: correct or not? [duplicate]

Often when I am writing emails or any other documents, I would like to use the irregular forms of dream (dreamt) or learn (learnt). But the computer spellcheckers always underline these words as being ...
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1answer
135 views

Why is Gilt a word when we have Gilded? Is this town big enough for the both of them? [duplicate]

We would never say "I builded my own house", and we would never say "I ment my fences" - as far as I can tell, words either went the d-to-t route, or they went the add-ed route. Gild, for some reason, ...
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1answer
1k views

Past simple vs. past perfect

Here is an exercise from Intermediate Language Practice by Michael Vince: (Please note that I have replaced all the blanks in the exercise with the answers given in the answer key.) Put each verb ...
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1answer
124 views

simple past vs past perfect

I'm studying English and I want to ask about a sentence from my book: For myself I kept a solitary piece of china, one of the few remaining plates from the set my grandfather bought my mother for ...
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1answer
62 views

Tenses in the sentence [duplicate]

"On occasion he had even been entrusted with the rectification of ‘The Times’ leading articles, which were written entirely in Newspeak." Why can't we say: "he was entrusted"?
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1answer
203 views

the correct tense of “derive”

I'm a non-native English speaker. Given the sentence: The English word " olive " derives from the Latin word "oliva". Why is the present tense used, not the past tense? If I say, The English word ...
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3answers
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Can I say “she made a good baby” to say “she was a good baby”?

I know we can say "someone makes a good leader." But can the same thing be used in past-tense "he made a good leader." ?
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“I was used to do” vs. “I was used doing” [closed]

Good day everyone, Looked around and didn't find the desired answer to my question. Would you please be kind to give me a hand with the following: "I was used to do..." or "I was used to swim here" ...
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3answers
1k views

Use of past and progressive tense

Can someone tell me which, if any, of the following sentences are correct: When she walked in, he was laying on the bed. When she walked in, he was laid on the bed. When she walked in, he ...
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1answer
56 views

He has only laid down for an hour today? [duplicate]

I would like to express that a person has only reclined for an hour so far today. Is it correct to say: He has only laid down for an hour so far today. or is it perhaps: He has only lay ...
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1answer
390 views

What tense to use when reporting something which has never been true or never happened? [duplicate]

The report said that years ago city planners had planned to build a facility that turns salt water into fresh water, but financial woes made that impossible. In this sentence should turned be ...
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2answers
140 views

“Cannot believe what he saw” versus “cannot believe what he was seeing” [duplicate]

Which of the following sentences is grammatical: The boss could not believe what he saw yesterday morning when he entered the office. The boss could not believe what he was seeing yesterday morning ...
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3answers
2k views

I wanted to know

Is this sentence grammatical with were (for talking about the present), or is are is better? I wanted to know if there were any accounts assistant posts available. I wanted to know if there ...
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1answer
9k views

“How long have you stayed there?” vs “How long did you stay there?” [duplicate]

I have a doubt about the difference between those two questions. Could you guys give me an appropriate examples and explanation? Thanks in advance!
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3answers
425 views

How can I rephrase a question with if clause, to be answered only if the event of the “if” clause happened [closed]

I would like to ask a question which is to be answered only if some past condition is met: If you did something in the past, could you tell me more about it? How should I rephrase it?
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1answer
2k views

Does using “Their watch is ended” over “Their watch has ended” change the meaning of the sentence?

I've been watching this little HBO show by the name of Game of Thones. Perhaps you have heard of it. In the most recent episode the following line is used (and also happens to be the title of the ...
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1answer
282 views

Past Simple or Past Perfect Continuous? [closed]

If an action started in the past and lasted for some time, which tense should be used Past Simple or Past Perfect Continuous? For example, I worked out for two hours yesterday or I had been working ...
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2answers
9k views

“I've been waiting” Vs “I waited”

Let's say for example this sentence : Finally, you're here! Where were you ? What took you so long ? _______! 1- I've been waiting here for hours. 2- I waited here for hours. which one is correct to ...
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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 ...
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3answers
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Which past tense of “to light” should I use here?

I know that there are two ways to form the past tense of to light (i.e. lit/lighted). Which one is appropriate for the sentence below? His thoughts lighted our way. or His thoughts lit our ...
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2answers
356 views

The clock (has kept/kept) precise time for over forty years? [closed]

The correct answer is "kept" but I don't understand why because shouldn't "over forty years" make it past progressive? This is from an ACT practice test. The passage talks about a guy making the ...
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2answers
838 views

Meaning of 'I didn't think you were' [closed]

What is the meaning of this sentence: I didn't think you were Why is 'were' used here instead of 'are'? How is that different from: I didn't think you are
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0answers
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Class [has been / was] removed. [duplicate]

If I want to make a very short remark as a comment to a fragment of computer program, what would be the best style of the three variants below please? Class ProjectControl... ...removed ...was ...
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5answers
203 views

Does “typically” always imply a habitual occurrence?

Example: When she lost her wallet, typically, she panicked. That looks awkward and incorrect. A present tense version of the sentence looks correct: When she loses her wallet, typically ...
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4answers
531 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 ...
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1answer
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what's the difference between “past tense” and “past participle”? [closed]

For example,in this sentence: Begun in 1078, the Tower of London was built in London’s southeast corner by William the Conqueror. Why does that sentence use begun not began?
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1answer
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It's funny that you should say that. Why “say” not “said”?

There's an exercise in Murphy's Grammar in use unit 34. "It's funny that you should say that. I was going to say the same thing." Why not use past tense "said" but "say" here? Another should ...
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1answer
110 views

“Does our process cause users to abandon tasks they WERE/ARE about to perform?”

I have written the following sentence as part of the conclusion to my thesis. This represents one of the future research questions, i.e., it is not part of my research questions, it is something that ...
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2answers
6k views

Difference between “Past Progressive” and “Past Perfect Progressive”

From this resource I find two situational explanations of Past Progressive: "Interrupted action in the past." with an example She was reading a book when the light went off, had a shower and ...
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1answer
332 views

Past tense vs past participle in passive forms [closed]

For example: The car is driven by my a friend of mine. vs The car is drove by a friend of mine. Which one is correct?
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2answers
703 views

Using past tense when referencing a still-true fact [duplicate]

In the sentence: "I didn't know she had a son," Can I say "I didn't know she has a son" instead, because he is a teenager now? Or are both correct?
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5answers
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Why is the past tense used in “I was wondering if you would like to come for dinner?”

Why isn't the present tense used? I am wondering if you would like to come for dinner.
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4answers
426 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 ...
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2answers
414 views

“It had not been working as I thought” vs. “It was not working as I thought”?

I want to convey that I recently discovered that a software code was not working like I thought it was working...I'm not sure how to phrase it correctly. Which A phrase goes with which B phrase? A1. ...
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2answers
920 views

Mixing verb tenses involving a Past-Belief/Thought/Attitude about timeless facts

Is the following sentence grammatically correct? 1.) Oscar believed that the sum of two and two is four. In this case it seems to make the most sense to mix the past tense "believed" with the ...
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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 ...
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5answers
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Is “drownded” a word?

Is there such a word as "drownded"? I would say "drowned" but I am hearing "drownded" so often I am beginning to wonder. For example: He went into the deepest waters and drownded.
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4answers
445 views

What does 'had been long settled' mean?

The family of Dashwood had been long settled in Sussex. (My question) What does 'had been long settled' mean? Here my ideas.
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3answers
42 views

“In the past” or “Into the past”?

Maybe my question is only relevant for my current context. I'm writing a documentation that shouldn't allow a user (using a calendar) to add an event in/into the past. So, should it be in or into?
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1answer
112 views

Which is correct - 'did with the egg' or 'with the egg did'? [closed]

I'm writing a story, which takes place in a past. Can you tell me which option is correct? When I was wondering what 1)did with the egg 2)with the egg did someone pushed me. I've chosen 1) but I'm ...
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2answers
160 views

Past or present to explain an active state in a past sentence

So, I have a sentence, more or less like this: "Gil, who HAS a psychokinesis ability, studied math yesterday." or "Gil, who CAN move things without touching them, studied math ...
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2answers
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'How dared you?' versus 'How dare you?'

A book I'm reading has this sentence in it: "How dared you go and see her without me?" Is the usage of the past tense 'dared' here grammatically wrong or just odd given the established phrase "How ...
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5answers
587 views

past simple vs past perfect

My question might seem to be stupid enough, it's basic grammar, I believe; however, I'm at my wits' end. Should we use Past perfect or Past Simple in the following sentence: He promised/ had ...
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1answer
1k views

‘He decided’ vs. ‘He had decided’

He decided that I could have the apartment before he looked at my credit report. I found that sentence in an exercise, and I wonder why it isn't: He had decided that I could have the ...
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2answers
59 views

Usage of the Past Perfect of “to be” for 2 (discrete) past events?

He wasn't resolute thus he confabulated with her. How would I rewrite this sentence using the past perfect tense, because I sense that the sentence above currently is flawed? The first ...
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4answers
1k views

Tense change: previous actions on something that's currently true

I'm describing a situation that happened in the past. To explain it, I want to use a description that is both true now and true when the situation happened. Specifically, I want something like: ...
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4answers
107 views

Passive or Past perfect?

a) The train was left by then. Or b) The train had left by then. Could you tell me which alternative is correct?
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3answers
119 views

What does “It can't have been her you saw yesterday: she is abroad.” become in indirect reported speech?

What does the sentence: It can't have been her you saw yesterday: she is abroad. become in indirect reported speech? He told me it… can't have been (?) couldn't have been (?) … her I had seen ...
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5answers
3k views

How would you describe the semantic phenomenon that allows this joke?

Groucho Marx had a joke that's long been a favorite of mine: I've had a wonderful time; this wasn't it. I assume he's using the present perfect to say I've had a wonderful time. But, when he ...