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

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The Use of the Present Perfect. What is natural?

Sometimes, I got really confused by the use of the Present Perfect tense. Given the fact, that we don't have this structure in Russian, all we can is to base our knowledge on grammar rules. The ...
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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 ...
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864 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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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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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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628 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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Using of tenses!

This year two Spanish novelists (have been awarded) or (were awarded) I have had an argument about this, I have chosen have been awarded but my friend says that Nobel is once a year, that's why ...
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1answer
51 views

“Have you washed it” vs “Did you wash it”?

What's the difference between these two questions? Your car looks very clean. Have you washed it? Did you wash it?
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1answer
34 views

Present perfect or past simple another situation

A couple days ago I stumbled upon a sentence that I couldn't get my head around. In the sentence: I have read all of the author's books; Gregor gave me the first book of the series. I know it ...
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1answer
335 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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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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1answer
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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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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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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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1answer
41 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
50 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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1answer
136 views

Must + present perfect in a narration about past events

As far as I understand, the construction must + present perfect is used to make presumptions about past events with the connection to the present: Look, somebody must've been here - the stove is ...
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1answer
51 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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Participle Clause - past particple

As I hadn't finished my assignment, I was very anxious. = Not having/Having not finished my assignment, I was very anxious. Consider changing the sentence: Not finished my assignment, I ...
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1answer
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Should you use past or present tense in a sentence if it ends in something like in olden and modern times?

Large amounts of gold weren’t worth much and merely had to be gotten ridden of in olden times like in modern times.' OR Large amounts of gold aren't worth much and merely have to be gotten rid of ...
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Past Continuous or Past Perfect Continuous in this case?

Which one is correct? Her friends had thought of calling the police when she came in. Her friends had thought to call the police when she came in. Her friends had been thinking of calling ...
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1answer
51 views

SAT Writing Question

Upon considering the facts of the case; he quickly made a decision and sent the police. A. When he considered B. Considering C. Upon Considering D. When Considering Hello everyone, I ...
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1answer
104 views

The future as reported in the past

Is (1) correct, or must it be written as (2)? John told me yesterday that this contract will not be renewed when it ends next month. John told me yesterday that this contract would not be ...
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1answer
130 views

Using knock and knocking

For a Halloween event, I dressed up as a student, knocked on my teacher's doors, and received extra homework. Can this sentence be rewritten using knocking? Is the following grammatically ...
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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 ...
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“and you received this” or “and you have received this”

For me following sounds better: Wrong password entered. If you are sure the password is correct and you received this file as an e-mail attachment, please first save the file locally. ...but ...
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“It's (high) time” vs. other uses of the past subjunctive

The most common usage of the past subjunctive is in counterfactual if statements: If I were you, I would eat more vegetables. Additionally, statements starting with "it's (high) time" are also ...
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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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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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When do I have license to use the present tense in a *past* narration?

I am narrating a past series of events; of course, all the verbs are in the past tense. One verb, however, signifies an action that will be complete long after (years after) the moment of narration ...
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Logic of tense in fiction

In the following sentence, the narrator is telling a story about herself: A few minutes later, still hearing the fall of their hooves, I called out over my shoulder, “Nothing for you, cows. Nothing ...
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'The thing is done with' tense

In need some help describing this writing style: A procedure can be written as "The bowl is washed with water, then....." or "The bowl was washed with water, then...." The second version is third ...
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If you have a sentence that implies that something happened in the past, do you talk about it in past tense if it is an event in a book?

I don't know whether the title is clear or not, so I'll try to give an adequate example: From these brief references in the Lord of the Rings, you can picture what Middle-earth is like before he ...
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Passive voice. Past Continuous or Present Perfect?

Nothing (was)/(has) ever heard of David. I think that correct answer is "has" because it's result. But in the answer section it's said that correct option is "was". Which one is correct and why? ...
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Usage of Past Perfect in “After something…”

I have been doing a couple of SAT and exam writing problems and I have noticed this following trend. Usually you have a couple of sentences like this: "After she had eaten her food she went ...
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Is it grammatical to use redundant past tense?

is it grammatically correct to use "have" or "has" before a past tense verb? for example, which is more correct: (1) "Some called for..." vs. (2) "Some have called for..." or similarly, (3) "Some ...
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Since we went vs since we have been

Sentence transformation from a PET sample paper: We haven't been to the theatre for a long time. It's a long time since we ........ to the theatre. My solution: went Textbook solution: have ...
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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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past and present tense and eliminating commas

For example, "It's a story about how Tim and John can't pay their mortgage, [and so, wind up], spending thousands of dollars to loan sharks." Can you have this sentence without the bracketed clause?
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English simple past “did” in an affirmative statement

The English simple past (pretorite) uses did in inversion and in negative sentences. I ate at the restaurant. I did not eat at the restaurant. Did I eat at the restaurant? But is the affirmative ...
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Question about about various uses of “to be” and correctness of their usage in my sentence

If I were the man involved, and didn't know my wife was 'pretend', I would be totally crushed when I did find out she was fake. How could I make the above statement correct? If it already is, ...
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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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Past perfect or simple past

Which one is correct? a) Jimmy sees the car crash. In his hand are the nuts that he had removed from its wheels. or b) Jimmy sees the car crash. In his hand are the nuts that he has removed from its ...