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Tenses

In this article, we will be learning simple past tense and past perfect tense. Tense is a verb-based method which is used to tell or signal the time. Not only that, but it also indicates the continuation or completeness of an action or state in relation to the time of speaking.

Let's now see what simple past tense and past perfect tense are and how they are different from one another.

What is Simple Past Tense?

Simple Past Tense is commonly known as “past tense”. Simple Past Tense is used when an action happens in the past.

Practice Questions

Question 1:

Yesterday, Heisenburger __________ to the library.

  1. go
  2. had gone
  3. went
  4. proposed

Answer:

The correct answer to this question is Option (3) - "went". Option (2), "had gone", is an example of the past perfect tense. You use past perfect tense when you talk about 2 past events. But, there is only 1 event in the sentence provided. Option (4), "proposed", is not relevant and does not fit well in the question.

 

Question 2:

Oh, I
__________ that on the shelf just this morning.

  1. see
  2. saw
  3. sought
  4. had seen

Answer:

The correct answer to this question is Option (2) - "saw". Option (4), "had seen", is again an example of the past perfect tense, which is used when there are 2 past events.

What is a Past Perfect Tense?

The past perfect tense is used when you are talking about 2 actions that happened in the past, both of which are over. It refers to the first event which has been completed or perfected. Not only this, it always comes with a "had" or "has".

Practice Questions

Question 1:

She __________ a cold right before the holidays began.

  1. had
  2. had had
  3. has
  4. have

Answer:

The correct answer to this question is Option (2) - "had had". To understand this answer, you need to evaluate what you do with a cold. Do you "break the cold" or "see a cold"? No. You have a cold. The past tense of "have" is "had". Therefore, she had had a cold.

 

Question 2:

When I arrived, the guests __________ all __________ warming up to one another.

  1. have ... start
  2. had ... start
  3. had ... started
  4. have ... started

Answer:

The correct answer to this question is Option (3) - "had ... started". As the event has taken place in the past, we know that we had to use "had" and the past tense of the verb (started). So, Options (1) and (4) are eliminated. Option (2) is also incorrect as it has the present tense of the verb (start). So, the correct answer to the question is Option (3).

Simple Past Tense vs Past Perfect Tense - Deciding Between the Two

You should always remember the basic rules of both these tenses. You should use simple past tense for an event which has happened in the past. And you should use past perfect tense when there are 2 past events, the first one of which is already completed.

Practice Questions

Question 1:

__________ to see a show last week.

  1. go
  2. went
  3. had gone
  4. has gone

Answer:

The correct answer to this question is Option (2) - "went". Option (1) is incorrect as "go" is present tense, and the event has already happened in the past. Also, as there was only 1 event that had happened in the past, Options (3) and (4) are eliminated.

Test Your Concepts

Answer the following questions based on the concepts we’ve covered in this article. If you get stuck, revisit the relevant section to revise the concepts.

Question 1: 

If I __________ you, I would have done it differently.

  1. was
  2. were
  3. am
  4. are

 

Question 2:

Detective Kluzo __________ in Paris for eight years before he moved to Mars.

  1. had lived
  2. has lived
  3. has living
  4. have lived

 

Question 3: 

__________ to see a show last week before the lockdown started.

  1. go
  2. went
  3. had gone
  4. has gone

 

Question 4:

She __________ to the mall yesterday. Then again, she __________ last week too, when the sale started.

 

  1. gone ... had gone
  2. went ... went
  3. had went ... gone
  4. went ... had gone
Continue Learning
Comprehension Comprehension Questions
Vocabulary MCQ Vocabulary Cloze
Connectors Adverbs
Adjectives Tenses
Verb Forms & Perfect Tenses Simple Continuous Tenses
Words In Games Quantifiers
Editing Synthesis and Transformation
Question Tags & Tenses Composition Writing
Verb Forms Subject - Verb Agreement
Resources - Academic Topics
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