Simple Past Tenses English Grammar ielts exam
Tenses are forms of a verb that show the time, continuance or completion of an action or a state that is expressed in connection with the moment at which a statement is made about it.
• Simple Past Tense
• Past Continuous Tense
• Past Perfect Tense
• Past Perfect Continuous Tense
Simple Past Tense
The Simple Past is used to indicate an action completed in the past. It often
occurs with adverbs or adverb phrases of past time.
Ex: The steamer sailed yesterday.
I received his letter a week ago.
She left school last year.
Sometimes this tense is used without an adverb of time. In such cases the time
may be either implied or indicated by the context.
Ex: I learnt Hindi in Nagpur.
I didn’t sleep well (i.e., last night).
Babar defeated Rana Sanga at Kanwaha.
The Simple Past is also used for past habits Ex: He studied many hours every day.
She always carried an umbrella.
Past Continuous Tense
The Past Continuous is used to denote an action going on at some time in the
past. The time of the action may or may not be indicated.
Ex: We were listening to the radio all evening.
It was getting darker.
The light went out while I was reading.
When I saw him, he was playing chess.
This tense is also used, with always, continually, etc., for persistent habits in the
Ex: He was always grumbling.
Past Perfect Tense
The Past Perfect describes an action completed before a certain moment in
Ex: I met him in New Delhi in 1970.
I had seen him last five years before.
If two actions happened in the past, it may be necessary to show which action happened earlier than the other. The Past Perfect is mainly used in such
situations. The Simple Past is used in one clause and the Past Perfect in the
Ex: When I reached the station, the train had started (so I couldn’t get ‘into the
I had done my exercise when Hari came to see me.
I had written the letter before he arrived.
Past Perfect Continuous Tense
The Past Perfect Continuous is used for an action that began before a certain
point in the past and continued up to that time.
Ex: At that time, he had been writing a novel for two months.
When Mr. Mukerji came to the school in 1965, Mr. Anand had already
been teaching there for five years.
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