Grammar: Past Tenses

past tenses
A: Simple past (actions or situations are complete and completely in the past). The syntax is: Subject+Verb II Form+ Object. For example:

  • They danced.
  • We danced.
  • She danced.

B: Past progressive (actions in the past occurred over a period of time). The syntax is: Subject+Was/Were+Verb-Ing form+Object. For example:

  • She was dancing.
  • They were dancing.
  • I was dancing.

C: Past perfect (an action that has been completed before another action or situation). The syntax is: Subject+Had+Verb III Form+Object. For example:

  • She had danced.
  • We had danced.
  • You had danced.

We do not use Before in Past Indefinite Tense. Instead, we use Ago. For example: He called me a minute ago (Not Before). On the other hand, we use Before for Past Perfect Tense as in reported speech. For example: He told me that he had taken his lunch three hours before. (Ago).
A is showing a reported speech so the tense after Past Indefinite must be Past Perfect with time marker Before not Ago.
So option A is correct. He concluded that the man had died ten hours before.
He concluded that the man died ten hours ago.

D: Past perfect progressive (an ongoing action in the past has ended). The syntax is: Subject+Had+Been+Verb Ing+Object. For example:

  • She had been dancing.
  • We had been dancing.
  • They had been dancing.



1. Identify which Tenses have been used.

Earnest Hemingway was a great novelist of the 20thc. He wrote novels about the ever-changing conditions of the world at his time (1……….). In his novels, he depicted a code through a number of characters of the Lost Generation. Hemingway was always searching for some meaning in life and finding none (2……….), he committed suicide. He had become a great novelist (3……….) before he killed himself. He had written a number of other famous novels before he wrote The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway was not simply a writer. He had been a heavy-weight boxer, a fisherman and also a warrior. He had been living many in one personality (4……….). He had visited many countries and made many marriages. He was not very happy in life because he was always suffering due to his personality; but he worked very hard to succeed in his life.

2. Provide the correct forms below.

Yesterday I (to have) a really bad day. I (to wake) up at 9 o’clock because I (to forget) to set my alarm clock the night before. I (get) up as fast as I (can) and I (to put) on some clothes. I ran into the kitchen and (to make) myself a cup of coffee. Then I (to drink)the coffee very fast and I (to run) to my car. After I (do) this, I (go) to work. While I (work) there, I (find), I (lost) the key to the safe. I (become) angry. It (to be) a terrible morning!

3. Correct the following sentences.

1. He (meet) me on the way.
2. You (see) Matrix last night?
3. She(not leave) five minutes ago.
4. We (sleep) when you phoned us.
5. He(enjoy) the match at that time?
6. The bell (rang) before I reached.
7. He(die) before I called him?
8. I (not prepare for) the test when…
9. It (rain) for the last five hours.
10. The baby (not cry) since morning.

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