The 4 Past Tenses in English

The 4 past tenses in English clarified in under a minute.


1. Simple Past

regular form: add -ed to base verb

The simple past tense is easy but not so simple. It has three uses. a) Use simple past tense to talk about events that happened before the present time.

b) Use simple past tense to talk about events repeated during a specific period in the past. c) Use simple past tense to talk about unreal or hypothetical circumstances.

Simple Past Tense: 3 Uses

I saw that movie yesterday. During our childhood, we played in that park daily. If she won a million dollars, she would donate it all to charity.

2. Past Continuous Tense

was/were + verb + ing

The past continuous has only two uses.

Use the past continuous tense to talk about events that were happening over some period in the past a) while another event was happening throughout the same time or

b) when another event happened during that time.

Past Continuous Tense: 2 Uses

What were you doing in the kitchen while he was watching TV?

Adam and Lily were taking a French course when they met in France.


3. Past Perfect

had + participle


Use the past perfect tense to talk about event(s) that happened before more recent past event(s).

Past Perfect Tense: She had left the shop before they arrived.



4. Past Perfect Continuous

had + been + verb + ing

Use the past perfect continuous tense to talk about event(s) that started in the past and continued until another action happened.

Past Perfect Tense: I had been listening to your story before she interrupted it.

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