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

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4answers
436 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 ...
0
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2answers
430 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. ...
2
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2answers
931 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 ...
2
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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 ...
12
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5answers
9k views

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
458 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.
0
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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?
0
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1answer
114 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 ...
1
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2answers
164 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 ...
3
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2answers
2k views

'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 ...
3
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5answers
590 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 ...
1
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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
60 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 ...
6
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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: ...
1
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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?
0
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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 ...
18
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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 ...
1
vote
1answer
278 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 ...
0
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1answer
1k views

Was + past participle [duplicate]

Is such phrase is correct? A request was sent to somewhere. Something is telling me that sentence below is correct one. A request has been sent to somewhere.
0
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1answer
2k views

“meeting called to order” vs “meeting call to order”

Which do you think is more appropriate, "Meeting call to order" or "Meeting called to order" if it's used in a printed meeting program? As for now, the program looks like this: 13:45 [Doors open] ...
24
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7answers
31k views

Is “must” ever grammatical as a past tense verb?

I have seen uses of must that appear to be in the simple past tense. Sometimes these seem grammatical, but sometimes not. Examples that help illustrate my confusion: He knew he must go to New York ...
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 ...
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1answer
1k views

“I [had] visited them two months ago” [duplicate]

A. I had visited them two months ago. B. I visited them two months ago. Which one is correct?
0
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1answer
40 views

Changing tenses

I am a sports writer and was wondering if this sentence is wrong because it starts in the past tense and changes to past participle "Sophomore Chelsea Vujs recorded a double-double by scoring a ...
0
votes
1answer
180 views

What is the difference between following 2 sentences? [duplicate]

What is the difference between following 2 sentences? Can you please explain me the meaning of both? "I have eaten my lunch" "I ate my lunch" Thanks a lot for helping.
2
votes
1answer
13k views

how to use “has been” [duplicate]

I had been preparing for a tennis event since March, but it has been postponed until next year. Question: Can "it has been postponed" be replaced with "was postponed" grammatically without changing ...
0
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1answer
399 views

A question on narration in the past

This is a bit of a complicated question. The context is that someone gave advice to someone else. The whole situation is narrated in the past. I fear that by using the past tense, the reader may ...
0
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1answer
115 views

Meaning of “bobbed” in “hair bobbed from a ray of sunlight” [closed]

From The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: Ed Miller: I was with a girl once. Wasn't a squaw, but she was purty. She had yellow hair, like uh... oh, like something. Dick ...
3
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2answers
4k views

Are pled and pleaded interchangeable past tense of plead?

From this article: http://nation.time.com/2014/02/03/stand-your-ground-michael-dunn-jordan-davis-killing-loud-music/ "Dunn has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges along with three ...
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8answers
8k views

“I didn't know you liked her” or “I didn't know you like her”

I have a friend who insists that "I didn't know you like her" is more correct than "I didn't know you liked her" if the liking is still taking place. But to my ear, only the latter ...
7
votes
6answers
24k views

Are “might” and “should” past tenses of “may” and “shall”, respectively?

According to the dictionary definitions (e.g. in Merriam-Webster) , "should" is the past of "shall" and "might" is the past of "may": But are these modal verbs really used as such? I know they are ...
2
votes
3answers
939 views

told vs have told in a sentence [closed]

How do you say the next sentence? 1) I told him to stay on the path while he was hiking, but he wandered off into the forest and was bitten by a snake 2) I told him to stay on the path while he was ...
2
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2answers
769 views

“Is left untouched” or “was left untouched” [closed]

Which is correct? My book was left untouched for so many years. or My book is left untouched for so many years. Well, until now, that book is really untouched. So does that mean that just ...
0
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6answers
9k views

Past present future all in one word?

Does the English language have a mechanism for expressing past, present and future tense simultaneously? In other words, consider the following three sentences: 1) The force was with me. 2) The ...
3
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3answers
463 views

Is it ok to use the irregular past tense of a verb as it were a regular one?

Let's say I say / write catched instead of caught or buyed instead of bought, etc. I know this is grammatically incorrect, but is it incorrect or perfectly fine to use it in every-day life ? English ...
0
votes
1answer
243 views

Using “must have” in the past [duplicate]

I know the must have/must had thing has been asked before but I have yet to see it in the context of this question. Does "have" make grammatical sense in the following? It sounds like it conflicts ...
5
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4answers
428 views

Latin-derived verbs

Are all Latin-derived English verbs regular? For ex. decide, arrive add -ed in their past forms. Are there any specific rules to follow? To spend is irregular: why? Does it depend on when these verbs ...
0
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1answer
381 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 ...
5
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2answers
26k 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 ...
0
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2answers
75 views

What tense to use in this example?

I am developing a system for patients that allows them to see their medication history. There is a function that lists history of all drugs the patients have ever tried. I am trying to figure out ...
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3answers
16k views

“misunderstand” vs “misunderstood”

If speaking or writing to someone and it becomes apparent they did not interpret something correctly, is it correct to inform them "you misunderstood" or "you misunderstand"? I'm not sure because the ...
0
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2answers
4k views

“fail to do” or “failure in doing”, which is better in this case?

I went to live in the small village to seek a simple life after my failure in finding a decent job in the metropolis. I went to live in the small village to seek a simple life after I fail ...
0
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1answer
323 views

Can I use the past progressive here?

Let's say I am at the train station and I missed the train, I still see it driving off. I would naturally say to myself: 'Damn, that was the train I was hoping to get.' Would that be wrong? If not, ...
2
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1answer
2k views

“Once…” in the past tense

I was standing on the spot where the murderer had been, thinking, "Did he hesitate? Once the trigger was pulled for the first time, there would've been no turning back." Can the following ...
0
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0answers
29 views

Which tense is more appropriate in the clause of this sentence, the simple past or present perfect? [duplicate]

Sentence 1: It is quite disappointed that I was not able to pass the exam even after having worked hard for three months. Sentence 2: It is quite disappointed that I have not been able to ...
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3answers
10k views

How can I use the verb “sad” in the past continuous?

How can I use the verb "sad" in the past continuous? E.g.: I was crying. I was missing. What should be the sentences for sad or upset in past continuous? Why do some words like the two above ...
0
votes
1answer
316 views

Past continuous vs Past Perfect continuous

When I was taking a Biology class in 2005, we were assigned to do an animal experiment. So what is wrong with that sentence? I am using a free grammar checker website and it says the tense is wrong.
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0answers
30 views

Why “Would you mind if I asked you something?” is correct? [duplicate]

Instead of "Would you mind if I ask you something?" Why past tense, I don't get it?
0
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2answers
404 views

Past perfect in Crime and Punishment

I've just started reading the English translation of Crime And Punishment, and come across the following sentences where the usage of past perfect tense has confused me: He was so badly dressed that ...
1
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1answer
681 views

Why does the tense of a story sometimes suddenly change from past to present, and back again? [closed]

For example in A Room With A View, by E. M. Forster, the tenses suddenly change from past to present or vice versa: Chapter XV: The Disaster Within The Sunday after Miss Bartlett's arrival ...