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    • Join Date: Jan 2008
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    I'm confused about past tenses

    Although I learnt them many times, I still mystify when I do some exercises about them. Can you explain when we use Past Simple, Past Continuous, Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous, plz ?? Thanks ^__^

  1. yara84's Avatar

    • Join Date: Oct 2007
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    Re: I'm confused about past tenses

    Use the Simple Past to express the idea that an action started and finished at a specific time in the past. Sometimes, the speaker may not actually mention the specific time, but they do have one specific time in mind. like "I saw a movie yesterday."

    Past continuous, Use the Past Continuous to indicate that a longer action in the past was interrupted. The interruption is usually a shorter action in the Simple Past. Remember this can be a real interruption or just an interruption in time. like ' I was watching TV when she called. '

    The Past Perfect expresses the idea that something occurred before another action in the past. It can also show that something happened before a specific time in the past.

    We use the Past Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. "For five minutes" and "for two weeks" are both durations which can be used with the Past Perfect Continuous. Notice that this is related to the Present Perfect Continuous; however, the duration does not continue until now, it stops before something else in the past.

    Did you see the difference with these?

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    Re: I'm confused about past tenses

    just to add something...

    since all these are considered as Narrative use the Past Simple to talk about short consecutive actions in the past
    eg. I woke up at 7am, took a shower, got dressed and left.

    Past Cont. in general is used to describe a longer continuous past action, which doesnt always have to be interrupted, though in most of the cases, it is
    there is another usage for Past Continuous, when you want to say that two simultaneous actions were happening at the same time in the past, and both lasted

    eg. While she was watching TV, he was reading a book

    or when you want to say that something repeatedly happened in the past and was annoying/irritating etc, you can use the past continuous along with some adverbs of frequency

    eg. She was always borrowing my clothes without asking

    and here are a few examples for the Past Perfects

    Past Perfect Simple:
    eg. When I arrived, the movie had already started (two actions, "the start of the movie" & "my arrival") "The start of the movie", is the action which happens first, so thats why it is in Past Perfect, and "my arrival" is in Past Simple, since it happened second

    Past Perfect Continuous:
    eg. They were tired, since they had been travelling all day
    First they travel..then they are tired

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