Past Tense and Its Types

Past Tense

The Past Tense describes an event or happening that has occurred. These events have a starting and ending point. Imagine an event that has occurred in the past and try describing it. You will use the Past tense in the verb form. Past tense expresses anything which has already happened.


Simple Past 

The Simple Past tense is used to describe or express anything that occurred or existed in the Past. It’sIt’s also used to refer to or describe an action that has been finished but no time is given and to describe an action or recurrence of an event that happens regularly. It is sometimes used to indicate a former state of mind, a Past sensation, or Past events in rapid succession. Use the Simple Past tense to express an action, occurrence, or circumstance that occurred in the Past or at a certain time.

  • Form- regular verbs 

  • Positive Statement: I ate, He ate

  • Negative Statement: I did not run (I didn’t run), He did not run (He didn’t run) 

  • Question: Did you run? 

  • Neg. Question: Did you not run? (Didn’t you run?)

  • It is formed by adding -ed at the end of the verb. It is identical for all persons, singular and plural. 



  • We add -d (noted) to the verbs that end with -e: like – spiked

  • If the verb ends with a consonant and -y, we change -y into -i: marry – married, cry – cried. 

  • But: stay – stayed, because this verb ends with a vowel and -y.

  • If the verb consists of only one syllable and ends with a vowel followed by a consonant, we add one more consonant to keep the same pronunciation but now it has changed in the past tense: stop – stopped. 

  • The almost identical rule applies to the verbs that end with – l: marvel – marveled. 


Form- Irregular Verbs

All the irregular verbs have different forms like 

go – went, bend – bent, beat – beat, etc. 

The question and negative are made in the same way: 

I went – Did you go? No, I did not go.



We can not use the auxiliary verb did with the verb to be and modal verbs. 


Were you a teacher? Was he in India? I was not at school. He was not jovial. Could you dance? Could he sing? I could not sing. He could not sing. 


The auxiliary verb did is not used in the interrogative sentence beginning with wh- pronouns (who, which) provided that the subject of the sentence is a pronoun.


Who met you? (who is the subject) Which plane arrived on time? (which plane is the subject) But: Who did you meet? Which train did you miss? (who and which train are the objects) 


 The negative question normally shows a surprise. Didn’t you know it?



  1. We use the Simple Past tense for events, activities or situations that were completed at a definite time in the past.

    1. When the time can be provided in the sentence: 

  • I came home at 8 o’clock. 

  • When he was a child, he didn’t play outside. 

  1. When the time is asked about:

  • When did they get to India? 

  1. When the time is not provided in the sentence, it is pretty clear from the context that the action or event finished in the past. 

  • He is 24 years old. 

  • He was playing in the park. 

  • I’ve been to Tokyo. (present perfect) – Did you enjoy it? (past simple) 


  1. When we use it for repeated actions in the past. 

  • We walked to the park every day. – And did you ever go by bicycle? 


  1. When It is used in stories to describe events that follow each other. 

  • Charles entered the room and looked around. He took his bag back and put it on a chair. He was at home. 


Past Continuous Tense

The Past Continuous Tense is used to describe a previous event that is still happening. This tense can be used to show that someone is in the middle of an action. It is used to define an action that occurs due to another action.


Past Continuous is also used to describe an action that occurred in the Past and was interrupted. The Past Continuous Tense is created by combining the verb to be (was/were) with present participle verbs ending in -ing. These two tenses can be used to show that one action occurred while another was taking place.

 I was dancing.

  • We use this Tense to describe an ongoing activity in the Past. 



Subject  +

Auxiliary Verb BE     +

Main Verb

Conjugated in simple past tense 



Present participle

Base + ing


  • For negative sentences, we put not in between the auxiliary verb and the main verb.

  • For interrogative sentences, we exchange the subject with an auxiliary verb.



  1. I was playing football.

  2. You were playing football.

  3. He was not climbing the mountain.

  4. We were not joking.

  5. Were you being stupid?

  6. Were they eating the ramen?



When the actions or situations in the past that were incomplete-

  • I was cleaning the house between 4 pm to 6 pm. I was in the garage.

  • The Sun was rising between the mountains.   

When the activity was continuous and uninterrupted. If the activity was interrupted we must use Simple past.

  • Yash was watching TV on Monday.

  • Yesterday I was working in the Kitchen.

Past continuous, when combined with the Simple past, can be used to describe the action in the past continuous started before the action in the Simple Past and continued after it.

  • When she saw me I was looking at the scenery.

(These two actions happened at the same time and I was looking at the scenery continuously when she saw me in the middle of it.)


Past Perfect Tense

In a statement or discussion, the Past Perfect Tense represents an event before another event in the Simple Past Tense was completed in the Past. The Past Perfect Tense can describe an event that happened in the Past and be completed. The Past perfect tense is also used to express an event or action that occurred before a specific time in the Past or indicate an action that occurred before another action occurred. When two activities were accomplished in the Past, one of the most effective uses of the Past Perfect Tense is to establish which event occurred first.


This tense talks about events that happened before in the Past. It is used when the action gets completed in the Past.



Subject  +

Auxiliary Verb HAVE   +

Main Verb

Conjugated in the Simple Past Tense


Past participle



  • For negative sentences in the Past Perfect Tense, we put not in between the auxiliary verb and the main verb.

  • For Interrogative sentences, we exchange the subject and auxiliary verb. 



  1. I had completed my homework.

  2. You had stopped before the signal.

  3. She had not been to the cinema.

  4. We had not left.

  5. Have you eaten lunch?

*When speaking with the Past Perfect Tense, we generally shorten the subject and auxiliary verb.


I had – I’d


You had- you’d 



When you have to express the action in the past before another action in the past.  Basically the past in the past.

  • The flight took off at 9 am. We arrived at 9:20 am. When we arrived the flight had left. 

Both events happened in the past.

When you can sometimes think of the past perfect tense just like the Present perfect tense, but the time has passed instead of being now.  

Imagine the Air hostess tells when you arrive late-   

  • You are too late. The flight has left.           

Later you tell your friends  –      

  • We were too late. The flight had left.


Past Perfect Continuous

Past Perfect Continuous tense represents acts that occurred in the Past until another action occurred in the Past. They’re frequently employed in circumstances when an action took place over a while and started in the Past. Also, define a Past action that began and ended before another past activity. It’s also common in reported speech, where the present perfect continuous tense is transformed into the Past perfect continuous tense. The Past perfect continuous tense, unlike the Past continuous and Past perfect tenses, is not employed to express state, mood, or feelings.



Subject +

Auxiliary Verb HAVE +

Auxiliary Verb BE +

Main Verb

Conjugated in the Simple Past Tense


Past Participle 


Present participle

Base+ ing


  • For negative sentences, we put not after the first auxiliary verb(be).

  • For interrogative sentences, we exchange the subject and first auxiliary verb as per the rules.   



  • I had been cooking.

  • You had been cooking.

  • It had not been working. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Difference Between Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous Tense?

The past perfect tense is used to express the event which got completed in the past while we were talking about it. Past Perfect continuous is about the event which happened in the past and continued till another time in the past.

2. Which Form of the Verb Do We Use in Past Continuous Tense?

The past continuous tense is formed by combining the past tense of to be (i.e., was/were) with the verb’s present participle (-ing word). There are many situations in which this verb tense might be used in a sentence. For example, it is often used to describe conditions that existed in the past.

3. How do you develop Yes or No questions in the Past Perfect Tense?

Start a negative inquiry with Had or Hadn’t, then add a subject that is the person or thing that did the action, followed by the verb in the Past Participle form of the verb, and only then add the rest of the phrase.

Here are two examples: By the time they returned, had you cleaned up the mess?

Before he was sacked, had James ever spoken to the manager?

4. Demonstrate how to use the Past Perfect tense to generate Tag Questions.

Short questions that are tacked onto the end of a statement are known as tag questions. They’re made by writing a typical phrase in the past perfect simple, then adding the word “hadn’t”, followed by a pronoun (I, you, us, they, he, she, it) and a question mark. They’re just employed to make sure the other person understands what you’re saying or to stress what you’ve spoken.

The tag is always negative when the sentence is positive. The tag is positive when the statement is negative.

5. In the Past Perfect Tense, how do you utilize contractions?

Put a comma (,) after the initial section of the statement when it starts with a time expression. The subject, or the person or thing who performed the action, is frequently contracted. Long forms should be saved for when you need to make a statement. In your speech, it is best to emphasize the “had”.

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6. When are you expected to use the past perfect tense?

One of the most common uses of the past perfect tense, also known as the pluperfect tense, is to express that one past action or state occurred before another. These phrases have varied structures, but the clause in the past perfect tense describes an activity that occurred earlier than the clause in the simple past tense in all three. The event to which an action or state is being compared isn’t always expressed directly.

7. Give instances of when the past continuous tense is commonly utilized.

It is necessary to use the past continuous:

To describe actions that happen at the same time. The past progressive is frequently used to describe an action that was interrupted by an event or two activities that were happening simultaneously.


To describe someone’s activities at a specific point in time. That might alternatively be represented in the simple past, as I worked…, implying that the action is considered a single event.


To signify a pause in a previous action. The past progressive is frequently combined with the past simple to show what was going on at the time of an event.

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