Past Tense - Definition, Exercise, Types, Sentences

Past Tense Definition

Tenses denote the time of an action. An action can take place in the past, present or shall take place in the future. Past tense is a tense used to denote an action in the past.

What is Past Tense?

Past Tense refers to actions that take place in the past. In addition, they are used to talk about hypothesis and for politeness.

Examples

Examples of Past Tense are as follows:

  • He went to the market.
  • He was working as a teacher.
  • He had been living in that house since August

Types

There are four types of tenses that together make up Past Tense, namely:

1. Simple Past Tense

The Simple Past Tense denoted an action that happened in the past and has no connection with the present. With most verbs, the past tense is formed by adding the suffix –ed to the verb. For example, waited, worked, created and so on. However, there are many verbs which do not take the –ed as suffix in their past form. Such verbs are called irregular verbs, for example,

Word

Past

Bring

Brought

Eat

Ate

Give

Gave

Know

Knew

Sell

Sold

Speak

Spoke

Take

Took

Teach

Taught

The Simple Past is used:

  • To denote an action that happened once in the past. For example,

She met her husband in 1988.

  • To denote an action that happened regularly in the past. For example,

He ate a lot when he was a child.

  • To denote an action that was true for some time in the past. For example,

She lived with her parents for twenty years.

2. Past Perfect Tense

The Past Perfect Tense denotes an action that happened before another action in the past. The tense makes it clear which action happened first. The Past Perfect Tense is used:

  • For an action that started in the past and continued up to a given time in the past. For example,

The train had left the station before I arrived.

  • For an action done several times up to a point in the past and continued to do after that point. For example,

He had written three letters and he was working on the fourth.

  • While reporting our experience up to the (then) present. For example,

I was pleased to meet Rajesh, whom I hadn’t met before.

  • For an action that happened in the past but is important at the time of reporting. For example,

She wasn’t at home. She had gone to the market.

3. Past Continuous Tense

The Past Continuous Tense describes an action that began in the past and is still going on at the moment of speaking. It is formed from the past tense of the verb ‘be’ with the –ing suffix.

The Past Continuous Tense is used:

  • For an action that continued before and after another action. For example,

The children were eating dinner when their parents got home.

  • To denote a change of mind. For example,

I was going to play cricket but I have decided to finish my homework instead.

  • To denote an action happening repeatedly. For example,

They were always fighting.

4. Past Perfect Continuous Tense

The Past Perfect Continuous Tense denotes an action that started in the past and continued up to another point in the past. It is formed using had been and present participle form.

The Past Perfect Continuous Tense is used:

  • For something that started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. For example,

He had been exercising for an hour before his mother arrived.

  • To show cause and effect. For example,

He was tired because he had been exercising.

Exercise

Q1. Fill in the blanks using the appropriate form of the given verb.

1. He did not wait for his sister because he _____ her message. (to read)

2. An electrician _____ to my house yesterday. (to come)

3. When their parents reached home, the girls ____ games for three hours. (to play)

4. He forgot the answer that he _____ only a minute before. (to revise)

5. When I _____ to my father, my phone suddenly rang. (to talk)

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