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The Past Tense              過去形

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

Hello Everyone, I hope you are all doing well today. Last week I discussed the present tense and its uses in English. Today we are going to take a look at the past tense.


In a nut shell the past tense works to tell about things that have happened in the past. Like the present tense there are four different parts to the past tense. Let’s take a quick look at these and a few examples that I hope can clarify what is being written here.


So let's get started!



First off we have the past simple tense.

Past Simple* - This tense is used to describe events that have happened in the past.


単純過去形* -過去に起こった起きごとを表す時。

Affirmative: (add -ed or –d to the base form of the verb)

I stopped by my friends house yesterday.

Negative: (add did not or didn't before the base form)

I didn’t play soccer as a child.

Question: (add did plus subject before the base form)

Did the man smile while walking down the aisle with his daughter?

*Be aware this is the general rule for verbs that are not irregular. I’d like to take a look at irregular verbs at some point in the near future.



Next let's move on to the past continuous tense."There are a few uses of the past continuous that we should look at first. It is used for interrupted past actions. As well as when a time expression is not given, it can indicate gradual development that took place in the past. In addition, it can express an action, which began before that time and probably continued after it." - ITTT



Affirmative: (subject + was/were + verb+ing)

While I was walking, a cat followed me.

Negative: (subject + was/were + not + verb+ing)

They were not happy waiting for the meal.

Question: (was/were + subject + verb+ing)

Was she jumping on the couch a few moments ago?


Now let's look at the past perfect tense- "The past equivalent of the present perfect, e.g. When she came inside the meal had started. So you should see that all of the past perfect verbs represent actions that occurred before other actions in the past. Thus we can say the past perfect is’ the past in the past’, or the past viewed from another past viewpoint." -ITTT


「健在完了形の過去形用のものです。例:When she came inside the meal had started. ここでは、過去完了動詞は過去に起こったできごとの前の行動を示しています。違う言い方ですと、「過去からみた過去の話」、または「過去の視点からの過去の話」。-ITTT

Affirmative: (subject + had + past participle)

When I sat down to eat my hotdog I found out I had forgotten to put ketchup on.

Negative: (subject + had+ not + past participle)

After we returned home, she had not been able to call the office yet.

Question: (had + subject + past participle)

Had he seen the movie when he started to write his report?


And finally we have the past perfect continuous tense- "The past perfect continuous certainly isn't the most frequently used (or taught) tense in the English language but it does have one major use: To talk about longer actions or situations in the past that had been going on continuously up to the past moment that we are thinking about. We don't know or are not concerned with whether or not it continued after." -ITTT



Affirmative: (subject + had + been + verb+ing)

He had been smiling when Mom gave him his gift.

Negative: (subject + had+ not + been + verb+ing)

They had not been standing when the earthquake hit.

Question: (had + subject + been + verb+ing)

Had she been eating when the phone rang?


And there you go, and the rest is history.



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