Simple Past expresses the ideathat an action started and finishedat a specific time in the past.
Henry arrived at the airport. Past Present Future Completed action in the past
I finished my lunch, went to the beach, and found a nice place to swim.Past Present Future A series of completed actions
Richard studied astronautical engineering for three years. Past Present Future Duration in the past
Past Present Future Past Facts or Generalizations
Dinosaurs were once the dominantterrestrial vertebrate animals. Past Present Future Past Facts or Generalizations
Use Past Continuous toindicate that a longer action in the pastwas interrupted. The interruption isusually a shorter action in the Simple Past.
We were driving through the desert when our car suddenly broke down.Past Present Future Interrupted action in the past
were busily typing,When I walked into the office, several peoplesome were talking on the phones, the boss wasyelling, and customers were waiting to be helped. Past Present Future Parallel actions
The Past Perfect expresses theidea that something occurredbefore another action in the past. Itcan also show that somethinghappened before a specific timein the past.
Tony knew Istanbul so well becausehe had visited the cityseveral times. Past Present Future Completed action before something in the past
Past Present Future Duration before something in the pastThey felt bad about selling the housebecause they had owned itfor more than forty years.
She never saw a bear before she moved to Alaska.
If the Past Perfect is not referring to an action at a specific time, Past Perfect is compulsory. Here Past Perfect is referring to a lack of experience rather than an action at a specific time. For this reason, Simple Past cannot be used.She had never seen a bear before she moved to Alaska.
Past PerfectUse theContinuous to show thatsomething started in the past andcontinued up until another time in thepast.
James had been teachingat the university for more than a yearbefore he left for Asia. Past Present Future Duration before something in the past