Past Tense - English Grammar

  • Past simple tense : It is used to express an action that happened or completed in past, usually a very little time before speaking, or action which is just completed. Time of action is not specified in terms of long time ago or short ago but it make a sense that the action has done a little time ago. For example, a person says, “I watched a movie”, it means the speaker of this sentence watched a movie a little time ago or little time ago in the same day.

Rules: 2nd form of verb (past simple) is used as main verb in the positive sentences and base form is used in negative and interrogative sentences.

  • Positive Sentence
  • Subject + main verb (past simple) + object
  • Subject + 2nd form of verb (past simple) + object

Examples :
I killed a snake
He ate a mango.

  • Negative sentences :
  • Subject + (auxiliary verb + not) main verb (base form) + object
  • Subject + did not + 1st form of verb or base form + object

I did not kill a snake
He did not eat a mango

In negative sentence “did not” is written and the 1st form of verb (base verb) is used instead of using 2nd form (or past simple verb).

  • Past Continuous tense: It is used to express a continued or ongoing action in past, an ongoing action which occurred in past and completed at some point in past. It expresses an ongoing nature of an action in past. For example, “he was laughing.” This sentence shows ongoing action (laughing) of a person which occurred in past. Past continuous tense is also called past progressive.

Rules: Auxiliary verb “was or were” is used in sentence. 1st form of verb or base verb + ing (present participle) is used as main verb in sentence.

  • Positive sentences :

Subject + auxiliary verb + Main Verb (present participle) + objectSubject + was/were + (1st form of verb or base verb +ing) +object

She was crying yesterday.
They were climbing on a hill.

If the subject is “he, she, It, I, singular or proper noun” then auxiliary verb “was” is used. If subject is “you, we, they or plural” then auxiliary verb “were” is used.

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