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Questions tagged [past-tense]

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

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What was/is the name of the person who phoned/had phoned? [duplicate]

What was the name of the person who phoned? I'm wondering what does this question really mean? Does it mean: What is the name of the person who phoned? but why was instead of is? or ...
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1answer
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Talking about feelings of a past event

I am confused about the use of tenses in describing an event in the past. I went to a Funfair and I played several games. (a) My favorite game is Ring toss. I like tossing the rings to the cones. ...
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1answer
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Superlative, present perfect vs past perfect

In the following context, can I have present perfect, or do I need to use past perfect? It was the worst food I've ever eaten / I had ever eaten. Thank you :)
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Past participle

Why in this sentence past participle goes without auxiliary verb? The table painted red, the sofa covered with American leather of a reddish colour with little green flowers on it, and the clothes ...
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Mixed tenses (present & past) [closed]

I am really upset now, experts. I said there were two acceptable answers to the following, but my superiors said there was only one. Below is the question. I really wanted to talk to him in person, ...
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1answer
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Does “had” necessitate that someone is no longer in possession if something?

The particular usage I'm curious about is "A man had four daughters." As in, he was the father of four girls. Does the usage of "had" necessitate that he no longer has any daughters (e.g. they all ...
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1answer
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What part of speech is “surrounded” in this sentence?

"The cat was surrounded by mice." What part of speech is "surrounded" in this sentence? To me, it seems like the verb "surround" is being used as a past participle in the passive voice... hence, it's ...
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Which tense fits the context best?( would win or won) [migrated]

The Super Grocery Store organized a competition for kids. Whoever could guess the correct number of jellybeans in the big jar,________(to win) a prize.
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Grammar: Past perfect tense [migrated]

If someone just told me about some celebrity I didn't know about all my life. would it be natural to express this in past perfect tense. For instance: Someone tells me about me about Mohammed Ali and ...
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Can anybody explain why my answer is wrong? [migrated]

Capital expenditure of their company in the year 2001 _______ clearly below the spending in the year 2000 when they _______ about half the investments for the concept conversion. A) used to be / had ...
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Forms of past tense

Can you please advise with appropriate examples the difference between the following: It sold some of its airfield land. It had to sell some of its airfield land.
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Past Perfect usage question

„Boxer Joe Foster had fought over 100 opponents when he retired in 1994.” Why someone used Past Perfect in this senence?
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Past perfect usage in the sentence

'When he told me it was finished it felt like all hope from my life had gone – it was overwhelming,' she says. Please help me understand this usage of PP. If we look at the timeline of this sentence ...
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Past simple and past continuous in picture descriptions [migrated]

I found the following exercise in a workbook: Choose the past simple or the past continuous: ... In the exercise there .... a picture of three doctors who .... . Answer key: was/sang My question: ...
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present perfect or simple past + position of adverb

I'm struggling with this example: "The materias have kindly been provided" or "The material have been kindly provided" Which of these two is the better option and why? And secondly: In this ...
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1answer
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Get used to + Be used to [closed]

I'd like to ask what the meaning of these two following sentences is: I am used to smoking I get used to smoking It looks the same to me but what is the reason that we generate verbs by using “get”...
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3answers
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Usage of “in” before were in a sentence from Shoe Dog

Why is 'in' used before was/were in this sentence from the book Shoe Dog by Phil Knight? Some Tuesday nights in the Reserves were set aside for classroom time. It seems like a mistake. Would ...
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“I got used to” or “I have got used to” [duplicate]

Here is the sentence - Living in a foreign country isn’t strange to me now. I got used/ I have got used to living in a foreign country Which one is correct and what the difference between them?
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1answer
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I have gone shopping or I went shopping

It says that we use present perfect for actions in the past that have a result now. No matter how much I try to figure out this, sometimes it is pretty hard. I have also read the followings as well, ...
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Adjective + the present/past [duplicate]

Would you please consider the following: Riana (WAS/IS) so quick a thinker that she decided to dodge left when the knife was swung to her. My question: Riana is still alive and her being ...
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1answer
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Should I write “I have been teamed up” or “I had been teamed up”

I want to write a past perfect tense sentence with a word "teamed up". Should I write I have been teamed up OR I had been teamed up.
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2answers
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The difference between “would mean” and “would have meant”

"He could not afford to be out of the public eye; it ____ the death of his political career". The answer for this is either "would mean" or "would have meant" can be used. But I'm quite confused ...
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1answer
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Knew, realized + the past/present

Please consider the following: I knew the building (IS/WAS) thirty feet tall. They realized I (AM/WAS) his son. My question: both those clauses contain general truths. So, do I need to use ...
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Using 'would' or 'used to' with a time reference in a different sentence

In a test there are such sentences: "When I was little, I shared a bedroom with my sister Catherine. As I was eight years her junior, I obviously (used to go / would go) to bed earlier than her." ...
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1answer
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Is this grammatical? “It is I who was being romantic about tradition” [closed]

I read this in a book and it threw me a little bit. Should it not be "It was I who was being romantic about tradition" as it's talking about the past?
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Is the flow of tenses in the sentence proper?

"The fine particles of grief which would flow out from the people he sat and listened to and helplessly tried to comfort, seeped inside him and there they had continued to envelop his heart, letting ...
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‘have been’ VS ‘were’

He said with a smile as if he were talking about an old friend. He said with a smile as if he had been talking about an old friend. What the difference between two sentences?
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What makes progressive verbs different from atelic, and can a verb be both atelic/telic, and/or progressive?

From what I've been reading about progressive verb forms those types of verbs are more often atelic, but I'm wondering if there are progressive forms that are exceptions to that. Or how can atelic/...
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Are there verbs that are neither telic, or atelic?

These examples from wikipedia are shown as tests to find what is telic, or atelic. Fine: "John built a house in a month." Bad: *"John built a house for a month." → built a house is telic Bad: *"...
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2answers
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Is the sentence “While i was traveling i had seen beautiful buildings.” ungrammatical?

Is the sentence “While i was traveling i had seen beautiful buildings.” ungrammatical? I think this sentence is grammatical using past perfect to describe multiple events in past but the answer says ...
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1answer
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Past Continuous Tense vs Past Perfect Continuous Tense

In the following sentences, which of the expressions in bold is correcet? Why is the other one not correct? How does the meaning change with each one? My parents got engaged in 1990. They had ...
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1answer
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Is “helped paved” construction correct? (It's very prevalent—perhaps it's dated?)

I am proofreading a text with the following sentence: "By the time Henry died, he had helped paved the way for the future of economics." If "helped paved" is incorrect (and should be "helped pave" ...
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1answer
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I asked~ but she ' won't '… Why did they say 'won't'?

There is a exercise to practice some usages. Q. I asked Sue what happened, but she doesn't tell / won't tell me A. won't tell I can't understand it. I chose another one, but I don't think that is ...
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Simple past tense of “may”

He was ecstatic to receive an email from the company asking to come in for an interview. It was the dream job he had been working so hard for. With some luck, he might actually get hired. He could ...
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2answers
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“might” vs “might have” in a narrative set in the past

The men kept walking well into the night, because if it rained the next day, they might not [reach / have reached] the village before the enemy arrived. At around midnight, they came to a ...
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1answer
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Past perfect vs Present perfect [duplicate]

Both sentences are in the past, what is the difference? Mr X had driven them home. Mr X has driven them home.
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1answer
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How to talk about actions with repetition in the past?

One way to talk about the actions that one commonly did in the past is using the modal "would". Now if I do not want to use it, how I can say my story. For example, When I was a lecturer, I go to ...
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1answer
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Past continuous questions

I have a question about Past continuous from this following example. " I was thinking that I wouldn't have any friends when I came here. " " I was thinking that I wouldn't have any friends when I ...
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Is “would play” correct?

We had a small house with a large garden, and we would play in a garden for hours. Is it correct to say "would play" in this context?
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What tense do I use for different actions in the past for dead people?

I want to refer to 2 kids and draw some parallelisms. John is alive now. Mark is dead. John lives in New York. "Mark LIVED in New York" or "Mark USED TO LIVE in New York". John likes to play soccer....
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Which one is correct in my case?

Which sentence in below is correct grammatically? In my case the event take place at past, and now i'm telling this to someone ... "I became so immersed that i completely lost track of time. " or "...
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1answer
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Is it correct to say “I wished I had learnt something somehow”

Is it correct to say "I wished I had learnt something somehow"|| Is there a better way to say it in few words ?? (After much practicing I felt I was not getting good at a skill, so, in my childhood ...
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1answer
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Was Exiled vs Exiled

I was wondering if these two sentences had a different meaning. 1) He came into power when his father, Gerald, was exiled to Europe during World War II. 2) He came into power when his father, Gerald,...
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Which tense is appropriate? Simple or Perfect? [duplicate]

Consider the following two sentences: Many buildings were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. Many buildings had been destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. Which is appropriate, and why? I think ...
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1answer
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past simple vs present perfect for dead people

Which tense to use when mentioning someone who is dead, but the institution or country that he founded still exists, as in the sentences below: Atatürk has founded Turkey. Atatürk founded ...
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3answers
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Is it ok to say “something I will have come to learn later in the course”?

I have written It lacks exact references to the book, something about argumentative analysis I will have come to learn later in the course. I wonder if this is correct and what this tense would ...
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Modal verbs of probability

'I think the doctors didn't expect Bob to wake up.' I must change this sentence using May. Which version is correct? 'The doctors may have not been expecting Bob to wake up.' 'The doctors may have ...
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2answers
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Is this sentence grammatically correct: “She would make for a convincing Amy.” [closed]

This sentence is part of dialogue between producer and actor, when she was convincing them to cast her in film. The film is ready now. During the premiere, they were recalling a previous moment that ...
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2answers
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Completed action in the past lead to an ongoing action - which tense to use?

I am a bit confused about the proper tense for the following situation. I try to make an example: A couple of weeks ago I talked to someone. We have not talked or communicated in any way again since ...
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Past Simple or Past Continuous

I don't know what I should use in this situation. I will give you an example: Mary drew / was drawing a family picture while her grandparents were staying in Japan. What is correct?