Past Tenses in English - contrasted

Past Tenses
Simple Past
Past Progressive
Past Perfect
Past Perfect Progressive
Present Perfect*
Present Perfect Progressive*
Present Tenses in English - contrasted
Future Tenses in English - contrasted
Exercises

1) Use

Simple Past Past Progressive Past Perfect Past Perfect Progressive Present Perfect* Present Perfect Progressive*
- action finished in the past - action was in progress at special time in the past - the past equivalent of the Present Perfect - how long something had been happening before something else happened - result of an action in the past is important in the present
- recently completed action
- state beginning in the past and still continuing
- action beginning in the past and still continuing (focus is on the action)

2) Signal words

Simple Past Past Progressive Past Perfect Past Perfect Progressive Present Perfect* Present Perfect Progressive*
last ...
... ago
in 1990
yesterday
while no unambigious ones just
yet
never
ever
already
so far
up to now
since
for
recently
all day
the whole day
how long
since
for

3) Form

Simple Past Past Progressive Past Perfect Past Perfect Progressive Present Perfect* Present Perfect Progressive*
regular:
infinitive + ed
irregular:
2. Spalte der unregelmäßigen Verben

was, were + infinitive + -ing

had + past participle had + been + infinitive + ing have/has + past participle have/has + been + infinitive + -ing

4) Examples

Simple Past Past Progressive Past Perfect Past Perfect Progressive Present Perfect* Present Perfect Progressive*
4-1 Affirmative sentences
We were in the USA and visited Alaska last year. Joe was writing an e-mail at 5 o'clock yesterday evening. She had read a comic before she went to bed. She had been
waiting for Jack for 30 minutes when he arrived.
He has lived in Melbourne since 2010. They have been
waiting for him for two hours.

Simple Past Past Progressive Past Perfect Past Perfect Progressive Present Perfect* Present Perfect Progressive*
4-2 Negative sentences
We were not in the USA and did not visit Alaska last year. Joe was not
writing an e-mail at 5 o'clock yesterday evening.
She had not read a comic before she went to bed. She had not been
waiting for Jack for 30 minutes when he arrived.
He has not lived in Melbourne since 2010. They have not been waiting for him for two hours.

Simple Past Past Progressive Past Perfect Past Perfect Progressive Present Perfect* Present Perfect Progressive*
4-3 Questions
Were you in the USA and did you visit Alaska year? Was Joe writing an e-mail at 5 o'clock yesterday evening? Had she read a comic before she went to bed? Had she been
waiting for Jack for 30 minutes when he arrived?
Has he lived in Melbourne since 2010? Have they been waiting for him for two hours?

* Both the Present Perfect and the Present Perfect Progressive are Present Tenses. But they also refer to the Past. That is the reason why they are listed here.

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