The Past tense is an English grammatical tense that communicates a type of action word for occasions that have happened. What does past tense mean? The past form of action words communicates occasions or activities that have already occurred. These activities are limited because they have both a beginning and a halting point. This becomes the most important part of English grammar with present and future tense.
There are four forms of the past tense. They include:
- simple past
- I walked.
- past progressive
- I was walking.
- past perfect
- I walked.
- past perfect progressive
- I had been walking.
Details of Four Types of Past Tense
Simple Past Tense
The simple past tense is used for actions that start and end when a specific form is formed by adding “-ed” to the verb’s infinitive form to study.
Example: I studied the whole day yesterday.
- Verb: to reach
Example: she reached the station before the train came.
- Verb: to look
For example, he looked at his daughter with eyes full of tears.
These are all simple forms of past tense that we use in our day-to-day life.
An extra consonant needs to be added, with some regular verbs having short vowel sounds, before adding “-ed.”
- Verb: to brag
- Past: bragged
- Verb: to love
- Past: loved
For example, she always bragged about her job title when someone asked her what she does for a living.
A verb with a silent “e” at the end requires a “-d” to create the past tense.
- Verb: to love
- Past: loved
Pets need to be loved like family members.
Irregular verbs can take various forms of past tense.
- Verb: to sing
- Past: sang
She sang a lullaby to her baby every day before sleeping.
What is the Past Continuous Tense?
The past continuous tense expresses when some events have lasted for a time in the past, then that form is known as Past Continuous Tense.
- To form the past continuous:
Subject + was/were + present participle (and “-ing” to end of the verb)
The past continuous is used to express:
duration, where the verb is attached with the first person and the action seems to be ongoing in the past.
- I was waiting
For interrupted actions in progress where the first person is doing an action, and it gets interrupted.
- I was waiting for him at the bus stop.
Actions happen at the same time when the first person is doing two actions at the same time and ongoing processions.
- I was waiting for him while I was having dinner.
The polite question is when the first person asks for assistance for ongoing action.
- Could you help me?
What is the Past Perfect Tense?
The past perfect tense is used when an action finishes before another action begins.
- To form the past perfect:
Subject + had + past participle of a verb
The past perfect is used to express:
- completed action before another begins (both in the past)
After he had answered the question, he could complete his assignment.
- conditional statements
If we had asked a question, we would have been able to complete the assignment.
- reported speech
The teacher asked if I had completed the assignment.
- show dissatisfaction with the past
I wish I had completed the assignment.
What is the Past Perfect Continuous Tense?
The past perfect continuous tense most often expresses actions in the past that were in progress before other actions.
- To form the past perfect continuous :
Subject + had been + present participle (and “-ing” to end of the verb)
The past perfect progressive is used to express:
- Duration of a past action (only up to a certain endpoint)
- The car had been running for ten minutes before we left.
- Showing cause of an action
- We could not play outside because it had been raining.
- Conditional statements
- If the sun had been shining, we could have played outside.
- Reported speech
- She said it had been raining.
Past Tense of To Be
Using the verb ‘to be’ can be confusing since it is an irregular verb through its various tenses. Here is a brief outline.
To Be Conjugations:
- Past > Was, Were
- Present > Is, Am, Are
- Future > Will Be
The past tense is a grammatical tense whose capacity is to put an activity or circumstance in the past. Instances of action words in the past tense incorporate activities that have already taken place in the past. In a few cases, we make past tense using auxiliary words. We should be careful about the rules and uses of verbs to avoid any mistake while using past tense in spoken or written communication.