Home > Learning Material > Learn English: practical examples of past tenses

Learn English: practical examples of past tenses

 

This lesson gives simple examples (below) of practical expressions common in daily life.

 

About usage

The problem is that there are numerous rules which govern the contexts in which we are supposed to use the below, but your English does not need to be so rigid. Native speakers often are not aware of when they should use each one – they come naturally.

One common point is that the “perfect” tenses can be used when the activity is not necessarily completed. E.g. “I’ve had a nice day” (and it is not finished yet) – that could be said in the evening of the same day. “I’ve been having a nice day” (until now) means that I have enjoyed my day up until the moment of speaking.

 

Present perfect tenses vs past tenses summary

You can use present perfect tenses to describe very recent activities which may not yet be completed. The past tenses describe activities that finished at a specific point in the past.

There are many other rules of course, but hopefully the below help you understand how the tenses differ.

 

Past simple examples

I did what you asked.”

I had a nice day.”

I went to school.”

 

Past continuous examples

I was doing what you asked.”

I was having a nice day.”

I was going to school.”

 

Present perfect examples

I have done what you asked.”

I have had a nice day.”

I have been to school.”

 

Present perfect continuous examples

I have been doing what you asked.”

I have been having a nice day.”

I have been going to school.”

 

Past perfect examples

I had done what you asked.”

I had had a nice day.”

I had been to school.”

 

Past perfect continuous examples

I had been doing what you asked.”

I had been having a nice day.”

I had been going to school.”

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