We know about the three types if tenses used in English Grammar.
- Past Tense
- Future Tense.
There are four past tenses in English.
We use them to talk about things that started and ended in the past or things that started in the past and continue to the present.
- Simple Past (or Past Indefinite) is for actions starting and ending in the past
- Past Continuous is for actions starting in the past and continuing to the present
- Past Perfect is for actions that started and ended in the past before another action that is also in the past
- Past Perfect Continuous is for actions that were going on in the past up until another action in the past happened
Form: Regular verbs: base verb + ed
Irregular verbs: past simple form
actions starting and ending in the past
- The managers went on a business trip.
- Boss's secretary booked a flight.
- I thought she's coming with us.
Form: The past form of "to be" (was, were) + verb + ing
Uses: Use 1:
actions starting in the past and continuing to the present
- I was trying to book a good flight this morning, but I'm not done with it yet. At 11pm, I was still searching the net.
a past action interrupted by another action
- I was talking to the boss when the conversation was interrupted by a manager.
describing two past events that took place at the same time
- I got really nervous while I was having a business lunch.
describing a past action that took place in a specific time period and may have continued after
- Many colleagues of mine were feeling depressed in in January.
(In this case, the colleagues either stopped being depressed after January or didn't stop.) Past Perfect
Form: had+ past form of a verb
Uses: Use 1:
describing a series of actions to emphasize the action that happened first
- The partners had slowly worked toward an agreement that was mutually beneficial, then they printed the agreement and signed it.
describing two past actions that take place at the same time to emphasize the shorter action.
- I had gotten really nervous while I was having a business lunch.
(Feeling nervous was shorter than the business lunch.) Use 3:
describing a past action that was finished in a specific time period.
- Many colleagues of mine had felt depressed in in January.
(In this case, the colleagues definitely stopped being depressed after January.) Past Perfect Continuous
Form: had + been + verb + ing
Uses: Use 1:
describing an action that began further in the past than other actions, but overlaps with actions that began later.
- My boss had been leading his company for many years when he and his senior managers considered the company restructuring.
- She said she had been for the company hospital when the changes started, and she worked there for many more years.
describing a past action that was interrupted or stopped by another action.
- We had been taking a flight to the main for more than five hours, but then we stopped for a layover.
describing an action that caused a later action.
- My company position had been growing stronger as I worked very hard.