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

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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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1answer
64 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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3answers
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What is the past tense of “lightning”?

When we talk about lightning and thunder, we generally use the words like this: It's lightning It's thundering The antenna was hit by lightning But sometimes we use thunder in the past tense... ...
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0answers
49 views

Is it may or might?

I know that the past tense of may is might so, basically, if the truth of the situation is known, you use "might have." For example: If I were to go to the store but didn't, I would say: I might ...
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1answer
19 views

Tense in a general statement

Do all of these mean the same? Is one preferable to the other? It's important to finish what you start. It's important to finish what you started. It's important to finish what you've started.
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Past tense of 'to output': output or outputted?

According to Wikipedia, the past tense (and past participle) of the verb to output is either output or outputted. Are these two forms entirely interchangeable? Or do they have certain nuance in ...
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2answers
968 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
57 views

Why past simple whereas present perfect should be used instead?

In "Game of Thrones", season 6, episode 4 there is a scene when one guy spots that his mate is sick (his hand is getting rotten) and gets worried about it. But the mate says: "Don't worry. I didn't ...
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1answer
55 views

Does/did in the following sentence?

So the context is A: I play the piano every night before I go to bed. B: I thought I was the only one who does that/did that?? Because person B thought before that she was the only one who did it, ...
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3answers
86 views

Time tense consistency

I was taught that we have to keep time tenses consistent throughout a sentence in English. I am writing a paper, and I wasn't sure of this. "I came to realize that information security is becoming ...
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0answers
80 views

Past Continuous signal word from.. to [closed]

please clarify me on the usage of Past Continuous tense. Some grammar books (written by non English authors) suggest using signal word from.. to.. with Past Continuous. e.g. We were plaing tennis from ...
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2answers
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could past perfect tense and present perfect tense coexist in a compound sentence. Please do not mark as duplicate if you have not read the question [duplicate]

Mike ( had broken | broke ) his mother's vase last night but he has not told her yet. Question: Some argue it must use "broke" instead of "had broken" because "last night" could not be used with past ...
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1answer
78 views

Asking subject - object questions. 'Did' or past form of the verb in Past Simple?

The question is about the rule of asking questions in Past Simple tense. Please, look at the questions below and tell me if my thinking and naming of questions stated here are correct? For example ...
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2answers
2k views

Sorry I'm late, the car wouldn't start this morning! [closed]

This sentence is used in a Grammar book. I wonder why they used "wouldn't start"? Thanks so much!
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0answers
174 views

Synonym for “Read” (past tense) [migrated]

Say you have a list of books. Some of the items in the list are marked “Read”. Are these articles marked so that you should read them later like a reading list? or do they note that you have already ...
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1answer
46 views

Past Perfect Progressive

I came across a website that says, using a Past Perfect Continuous is a good way to show cause and effect. The writer then shows an example. He was tired because he had been exercising so hard. ...
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2answers
701 views

Two past perfect verbs in the same sentence

Both these sentences contain two verbs (correct me if I'm wrong) that are in the past perfect tense. I'd like to ask how do they occur in chronological order. Though my question is related to the one ...
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2answers
10k views

When do you use “learnt” and when “learned”?

Is learnt UK English and learned US? Is it that simple? I’m used to using learnt, but my US spellchecker says it is wrong.
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2answers
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Coming and going in the past

If I call my mother when I am done shopping in the morning, I might tell her "I am coming home" if she is at home, but "I am going home" if she is not. That afternoon at home, discussing the day's ...
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2answers
47 views

Change of tenses

What is the past progressive form of- "I was ill"? Can it be changed at all? I think it cannot be changed but in a bit hesitation. Clarify the answer with reason.
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1answer
63 views

I finished my essay yesterday but I (?) it in to the tutor yet

I finished my essay yesterday but I (?) it in to the tutor yet. A.I've given B.I hadn't given C.I didn't give Which is correct? My dear tutor said the answer had to be B. But I find no correct ...
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6answers
223 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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0answers
46 views

Usage of conditional in past

I am a non-native speaker, currently reading English fiction to improve my language skills. I stumbled over the following sentence: [...] every creeping sound of the night was magnified, and if ...
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1answer
5k views

“Did you” vs “Do you” for questions about the past

Which of these is more correct for American English in a professional context: Did you have any other prior marriage that lasted at least 10 years, or any other prior marriage that ended due to your ...
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0answers
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Past Perfect and Until

In the book which I use to prepare for the IELTS exam they have the following sentence: " The situation remained unchanged for the next two years until more universities were opened." I do not ...
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2answers
497 views

The difference between “have been able to” and “was able to”

I have been able to buy the house I spoke of the other day. (1) Does (1) mean that I bought the house? I was able to buy the house I spoke of the other day. (2) I was able to buy ...
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2answers
133 views

Can Present Participle verbs be used in Past tense stories?

I'm writing a 3rd person story in the past tense. I'm asking the above question because I noticed Roald Dahl used present particles instead of past particles in The BFG. The BFG, with Sophie ...
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2answers
51 views

What tense should I use in the following case? [closed]

I'm describing something in the past tense. However, that something repeats over and over again. What is more correct? A ball destroyed a vase. It was an infinite loop. The ball bounced up. It hit ...
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3answers
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“Since she had given up smoking, …” or “Since she gave up smoking, …”?

Since she had given up smoking, she has been looking good. or Since she gave up smoking, she has been looking good. Shouldn't it be "had given up"?
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1answer
25 views

Present Perfect usage in a sentence; continue with the same tense or move to Past Simple?

I've been rewriting a known quote: Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back. I used the Present Perfect and turned the quote into: Curiosity has killed the cat, but ...
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3answers
52 views

Good decision I “made” / “have made” today

As a non-native English speaker, I'm a little bit confused. Should I say: The only good decision I made today was to ... or The only good decision I have made today was to ... What is the ...
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0answers
36 views

How do I stay in the right past tense?

I recently wrote in my journal about a crash that had occurred on my way to work. I couldn't decide if I needed to write: Thursday morning, a truck had hit and killed a woman on the motorway. The ...
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2answers
23k 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.
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1answer
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The date was advanced / The date has been advanced

What would be the difference between "The date of the meeting has been advanced by one week" versus "The date of the meeting was advanced by one week" The latter I've found in a dictionary. The ...
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1answer
63 views

We received/had received a letter [duplicate]

I want to acknowledge on receipt of a letter. Which one is correct "we received" or "we had received"? And please explain the usages too. Thanks
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1answer
52 views

Perfect Continuous

I know we use Past Perfect Continuous when an event in the past continue up until another event in the past: I had been talking with her for over an hour before Tony arrived. Can we use it when ...
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0answers
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Conditionals in the past [closed]

If I have a conditional sentence of type 1, let`s say, "If it works out he will be awarded" how will it sound in the past, as if reported? Is it correct to say: "[Everybody thought that] if it worked ...
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Survey Design: Past Tense vs. Present Tense

This seems silly, but I can't make up my mind. When asking survey participants to rate their attitude(s) about a past experience, should the statement be in past or present tense? For example, ...
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2answers
33 views

I thought I heard you call my name

I read several sentences, like these: "I thought I heard you call my name", should this be "I thought I heard you called my name"? "Yesterday I saw a lion kiss a deer", should this be "Yesterday I ...
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1answer
48 views

Passive and past tense

I have to write an abstract which present my research and results. Do you think the following sentences are right in terms of tense and using of passive together? 1."It has been observed that the ...
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1answer
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Do “it is time for someone to do something” and “it is time someone did something” mean the same thing? [duplicate]

I know that It is time (understood: for the speaker or for a group of people including the speaker) to do something. and It is time I or we did something. do not mean the same thing: the first is ...
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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
135 views

“Have you washed it” vs “Did you wash it”? [duplicate]

What's the difference between these two questions? Speaker A: Your car looks very clean. Have you washed it? Did you wash it?
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3answers
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Why do you write “occurred” but “listened”?

The past tense of to occur is occurred (not occured), but the past tense of to listen is listened (not listenned). Why? What is the general rule that is applied to make the past tense of a verb?
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Laid vs. Lain in This Sentence [closed]

Which past participle would fit best in the following sentence? I've always struggled with this one. The idea that had presented itself during the meeting had plagued him all night, and he'd ____ ...
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2answers
4k views

Double Past Tense? [closed]

Can you please tell me which one of these sentences is correct, and why? Thanks! Lastly, my experience as a teaching assistant helped me throughout the course as I shared what I did to make my ...
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0answers
28 views

Simple past or Past perfect or Present perfect?

The researcher finds a lot of articles about the famous cop having tampered with the evidence related to the arrests that he made. or The researcher finds a lot of articles about the famous cop ...
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I wished somebody told me

I got to the bank this morning to open an account, but I could not because I did not have one of the documents required. The day before, when I booked the appointment with the advisor, they told me to ...