The Past Tenses EXPLAINED

The Past Simple

Affirmative:

SUBJECT VERB COMPLIMENT
Frank discovered a cave.

Negative:

SUBJECT DID NOT VERB COMPLIMENT
Frank didn’t discover a cave.

Interrogative:

DID SUBJECT VERB COMPLIMENT
Did Frank discover a cave?

We use the Past Simple to talk about:
1.) completed actions in the past.
For example: Frank went up to the mountains yesterday at 2PM.
2.) single occurances, habits and moods.
For example: Frank loved Nature when he was a child. He camped every weekend.

The Past Continuous

SUBJECT WAS/WERE VERB+ING COMPLIMENT
Frank was hiking in the mountains.

Negative:

SUBJECT WAS/WERE NOT VERB+ING COMPLIMENT
Frank wasn’t hiking in a park.

Interrogative:

WAS/WERE SUBJECT VERB+ING COMPLIMENT
Was Frank searching for a cave?

We use the Past Continuous to talk about:
1.) two actions that occured at the same time in the past.
For example: Frank was taking photos while he was walking.
2.) an action that was in the process of happening in the past.
For example: Frank was walking in the mountains at 2PM.
3.) an action that was in process, that was interrupted.
For example: Frank was climbing a tree when he fell.

The Past Perfect

SUBJECT HAD PAST PARTICIPLE COMPLIMENT
Frank had hiked in that location before.

Negative:

SUBJECT HAD NOT PART PARTICIPLE COMPLIMENT
Frank hadn’t seen the cave the last time he was there.

Interrogative:

HAD SUBJECT PAST PARTICIPLE COMPLIMENT
Had Frank ever seen a cave before he encoutered this one?

We use the Past Perfect to talk about:
1.) An action that occured before another action in the past.
For example: Frank had packed a lunch before he went hiking.
2.) You can indicate how long something occured.
For example: Frank had wanted to go hiking for a month before he finally went.

The Past Perfect Continuous

SUBJECT HAD BEEN VERB+ING COMPLIMENT
Frank had BEEN hiking in that location for two hours.

Negative:

SUBJECT HAD NOT BEEN PART PARTICIPLE COMPLIMENT
Frank hadn’t been looking the cave.

Interrogative:

HAD SUBJECT BEEN PAST PARTICIPLE COMPLIMENT
Had Frank been expecting to find a cave?

We use the Past Perfect Continuous to talk about:
1.) the quantity of time of an action in the past.
For example: Frank had been hiking for two hours before he saw the cave.
2.) the cause of an action in the past.
For example: Frank had forgotten his sweater, so he was cold.