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What Is the Past Tense? (with Examples)The past tense describes a past event or a state of being. For example:
- I jumped in the lake. (past event)
- I was happy. (past state of being)
Examples of the Types of Past TensesThe past tense is categorized further depending on whether the action was in progress or has been completed. The four past tenses are:
|The 4 Past Tenses||Examples||Uses|
|simple past tense||
||The simple past tense is used to describe a completed activity that started in the past and ended in the past.|
|past progressive tense||
||The past progressive tense is used to describe an on-going activity in the past. Often, it is used to set the scene for another action.|
|past perfect tense||
||The past perfect tense is used to emphasize that an action was completed before another took place.|
|past perfect progressive||
||The past perfect progressive tense is used to show that an on-going action in the past has ended.|
Diagrams for the Four Past TensesThe infographics below show how each past tense is formed and a quick overview of how each one is used:
Simple Past Tense
- I played when I was younger.
Past Progressive Tense
- I was playing for an hour.
Past Perfect Tense
- I had played already.
Past Perfect Progressive Tense
- I had been playing since I was ten.
See AlsoWhat are verbs? Past tense
Present tense Future tense Tenses Simple past tense Past progressive tense Past perfect tense Past perfect progressive tense Simple present tense Present progressive tense Present perfect tense Present perfect progressive tense Simple future tense Future progressive tense Future perfect tense Future perfect progressive tense Glossary of grammatical terms