Past Tense

Past Tense: Definition, Structure & Examples

 Past tense also has four forms.

  • Past Indefinite Tense
  • Past Progressive (Continuous) Tense
  • Past Perfect Tense
  • Past Perfect Progressive Tense

Past Indefinite Tense

The past indefinite tense, also known as simple past tense, is used to indicate a finished or completed action/task that occurred/happened at a specific point in time in the past. ‘A specific time’ can be diverse and can cover a long period of time but it cannot be undeterminable.

Structure:

Subject + verb in the past form + . . . . . + adverb of time + . . . . .

Note: Adverb of time can also be at the beginning of the sentence. Other sentences can also refer to that adverb and can use simple past tense.

Example:

  • Alex went to Mexico last year.
  • I ate a mango a few minutes ago.
  • He had an exam yesterday.
  • I used to travel around the world when I was fit. (It can also indicate a habit of the past which is not a habit in the present.)

Definition of Past Indefinite Tense

Past Indefinite Tense represents an action occurred in the past or a habit of the past and uses the past form of the verb.

Examples of Past Indefinite Tense

  • I wrote articles on different topics.
  • He read various kinds of books.
  • They played football in that field.
  • She preferred coffee to tea.
  • He went to the library yesterday.
  • We came for shopping in this market last week.
  • We watched a movie in this Cineplex yesterday.
  • You used to shop in that market.
  • I sang different kinds of songs, especially modern.
  • I listened to melodious songs last evening.
  • He loved to travel around the world.
  • They played cricket in that field last week.
  • The poet wrote a romantic poem.
  • The lyricist wrote a realistic song for the program.
  • Did you go to the concert of realistic songs?
  • I could not attend the program because of my busy schedule.
  • He was a man of parts.
  • I helped him to do the task.
  • We enjoyed the program thoroughly.
  • I went to the Dhaka International Trade Fair with my elder brother.

Past Progressive (Continuous) Tense

The past progressive tense is used to demonstrate an action that was happening in the past for a period of time in a particular context. The context can be a specific time or another action.

Structures:

Subject + was/were + verb + ing + . . . . . a specific time
Alex was sleeping yesterday at 6.30 AMI was cleaning the dishes at around 5.30-6.30 yesterday.
When + subject + simple past tense + subject + was/were + verb+ing . . . .
When I went out, you were shouting from behind.When Alex came, I was sleeping.
Subject +  was/were + verb+ing + when + subject +  simple past tense . . . .
You were shouting from behind when I went outside.I was sleeping when Alex came home.
While + subject + was/were + verb+ing + subject + was/were + verb+ing . . . .
While I was sleeping, you were making noises.While Alex was playing, I was sleeping.

Note: While can also be placed between the two clauses, and one of the clauses can be of simple past tense.

Definition of Past Continuous Tense

Past Continuous Tense represents an on-going action of the past. It uses was/were and “ing” is added with the verb.

Examples of Past Continuous Tense

  • I was writing articles on different topics.
  • He was reading various kinds of books.
  • They were playing football in that field.
  • She was drinking coffee in that coffee shop.
  • He was studying in the library.
  • We were shopping in this market last week.
  • We were watching a movie in this Cineplex yesterday.
  • You were shopping in that market.
  • I was singing different kinds of songs, especially modern.
  • I was listening to melodious songs last evening.
  • He was traveling around the world.
  • They were playing hockey on that field last week.
  • The poet was writing a romantic poem.
  • The lyricist was writing a realistic song for the program.
  • Were you enjoying the concert of realistic songs?
  • I was not watching the cricket match on television.
  • He was practicing to sing the song for the program.
  • I was helping him to do the task.
  • We were enjoying the program thoroughly.
  • I was shopping at the Dhaka International Trade Fair with my elder brother.

Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect is used to demonstrate an action that occurred before another action in the past. There are usually two completed actions in the sentence; one happens before the other.

Structures:

Subject + had + past participle form of the main verb + before + subject + simple past tense . . . .Alex had completed the task before the teacher asked.I had bought a phone before you came here.
Before + subject + simple past tense + subject + had + past participle form of the verb +. . . .Before I went to the office, I finished some business with her.Before she went home, she had taken a test.
Subject + simple past tense + after + subject + had + past participle . . . .Mark ate after I had bought him a bat.I went to the office after I had finished some business with her.
After + subject + had + past participle + subject + simple past tense . . . .After I had bought a phone, she came to the shop.After she had gone, I came in.

Note: When can be used in place of before or after in any of the above structures.

Definition of Past Perfect Tense

Past Perfect Tense represents two works which were occurred in the past; the second or later action follows Past Indefinite Tense. Past Perfect Tense uses had and the past participle form of the verb.

Examples of Past Perfect Tense

  • I had written articles on various topics before he came.
  • He had read different kinds of books before you came.
  • They had played football in that field before it started to rain.
  • She had gone to the coffee shop before she came home.
  • He had studied in the library before he came to the class.
  • I came here after you had left.
  • We had shopped in that shop before we came home.
  • We had watched a movie in that Cineplex before he came.
  • You had shopped in that market before you came home.
  • I had practiced the songs before the program started.
  • I had listened to melodious songs before I started the work.
  • He had traveled around the world before he came to Bangladesh.
  • They had played hockey in that field before it started to rain.
  • The poet had written a romantic poem before he came to the program.
  • The lyricist had come to the program before the minister came.
  • Had you come to the program before I came?
  • I had not watched the cricket match on television before you came.
  • He had not practiced the song before he sang it in the program.
  • I helped him to do the task after I had finished my work.
  • We had taken an ice-cream before we left the ice-cream parlor.

Past Perfect Progressive Tense

The past perfect progressive tense is an extension to the past perfect tense and its structures. Past perfect progressive is used to demonstrate an action which continued for a specific period of time but stopped before another action.

Structure:

Subject + had + been + verb+ing + . . . . . + for/since + . . . . .+ before + subject + past simple tenseAlan had been playing cricket for 18 years before he retired.Jack had been living in Sydney since 2010 before he moved to Melbourne.


Note: 
This tense can be replaced by the past perfect tense withdrawing for/since.

Definition of Past Perfect Continuous Tense

Past Perfect Continuous Tense represents an ongoing action that started and continued for some time in the past. To indicate time reference “for” and “since” are used and it describes when the action started and how long it continued in the past.

Examples of Past Perfect Continuous Tense

  • I had been writing articles on various topics for three hours.
  • He had been reading different kinds of books since morning.
  • They had been playing football in that field before it started to rain.
  • Jane had been gossiping in the coffee shop for two hours.
  • Jeff had been studying in the library before he came to the class.
  • We had been shopping in that shop before we came home.
  • We had been watching a movie in this Cineplex for three hours.
  • You had been shopping in that market before you came home.
  • I had been singing different kinds of songs for an hour.
  • I had been listening to melodious songs for two hours.
  • Tom had been traveling around the world since the month of December.
  • They had been playing hockey on that field for three hours.
  • The poet had been writing romantic poems since morning.
  • The lyricist had been writing realistic songs since the beginning of his career.
  • Had you not been enjoying the concert for three hours?
  • I had not been watching the cricket match on television for two hours.
  • Richard had been practicing to sing the song since morning.
  • I had been helping him to do the task before I started the program.
  • We had been enjoying the program thoroughly for three hours.
  • I had been shopping with my elder brother in the fair since morning.
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