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Where Appropriate To Use Past Indefinite Tense

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What Tense is  the most popular in the English language?

When thinking we operate the variety of senses and their connections in our mind. To translate some sense of ours we use the means that must be understood and common in the human society – that of the language spoken. This latter making a constantly developing  and flexible system gives us a vast choice of the tools to express our sense correctly. One of such powerful tools is the grammar and its categories. The sense of timing of the events is transmitted by means of the grammar Tense. You can always check the correctness of your grammar and spelling if using the online editing services on the dedicated website.

There is a diversity of tenses and the ways of their correlations in the English language. However not all of them are used with the same frequency by native speakers. Try to recall when you’ve last heard someone using Conditional II Progressive (like The children would have been playing soccer if they knew the game) or at least Past Perfect Progressive (Leila had been holding tight to her driver license while the policeman was approaching her car) in the colloquial language. Not an easy task, eh? The thing is, some tenses express the most common situations in life, the ones frequently happening. That is why they are often used and may be call the most popular tenses. They differ from language to language as the criteria vary accordingly. In English the top list looks as follows:

  1. Present Indefinite – I read an article on how to train and develop my English skills by means of the popular blog.
  2. Past Indefinite -  She tossed the book to me and I leaped with excitement.
  3. Present Continuous – I am writing an important essay at the moment.
  4. Past Continuous – You were swimming when we entered the pool.
  5. Present Perfect – He has completed his first year with the outstanding result.

As you see most of the listed tenses represent the present time or are connected to it. This is quite logical as the man can physically live only in the present moment, thus that is what he’s speaking about more often. These tenses are also similar in the terms of the timing period as they outline rather a narrow period for the event to happen. The only tense that “lets loose” the time period is the Past Indefinite. Let’s have a closer look at this tense.

Brief description of the Past Indefinite

The Past Indefinite tense is also known as Past Simple one as this is one of the basic times existing almost in all of the languages of the world. It serves to describe the events that happened before the moment of the speech, long ago or just recently, in terms of the time. These events start and end in the previous period of time, are not related to the present time, they completely belong to the past.

I took all efforts to win this prize and succeeded.  – all the described events (the contest and the victory) have already took place

If some aspects of the Past Indefinite make the blank spot for you, you can apply to the professional reword paper service. Quite often the time of the event is explicitly indicated when using Past Indefinite. Such participles as a fortnight ago, when the city was young, last morning, three days before tomorrow, in June 2005 and likewise can be used:

Yesterday we visited the National Archaeological museum.      

To create a Past Indefinite you need to adhere to certain rules, simple enough. Let’s browse them all:

1. If you need to make an affirmative sentence in the Past Indefinite tense all you’ve got to do is to put the verb into the right mode (and add some time indicator if you wish).  The right mode for this tense is the past (2nd) form of the verb that differs depending on whether the verb is a regular or irregular one:

  • If the verb is a regular one (listen, clasp, challenge, study, create) add a –d/ed ending to it (We listened inattentively to the lecture though usually we studied with enthusiasm);
  • If the verb is an irregular one (teach, write, eat, run, fly) use a 2nd form for this verb from the Table for irregular verbs’ forms (Their mother always taught them how to do the things right and almost succeeded: they ate, drank, wrote and spoke impeccably, their only weakness being their unbridled temperament tending to burst out every now and then).

2. The negative sentence is formed in the following ways:

  • For any predicate but is: by means of the auxiliary verb did (2nd form of do) and the negative particle not. The verb must be used in its basic form: Lily didn’t call you yesterday, it was Lisa who tried to reach you.
  • For the predicate is: the 2nd form (was, were) is to be used + negative particle not: We weren’t at the meeting as we travelled abroad last month.

Same is workable for have (They had not any chance to win the contest), however in the colloquial language the most accustomed way is the use of did+not: I didn’t have any illusions as to the sincerity of her words.

  1. To make a question with the Past Indefinite, you should:
  • The predicate being any verb except is: place the auxiliary verb did first in the sentence, then the subject, next - the verb in the basic form. Don’t forget the question mark: Did you buy this table last week?
  • The predicate being presented by is: put the verb in the 2nd form first (Was she interested in the presentation you made?). Again, you can make the same trick with have (Had you the larger nose than you have now?) however it is used even less frequently than in the negative sentences. For have the common negative sentence will be the one with did: Did you have the courage to admit your mistakes then?

In case you encounter any difficulties with making the Past Indefinite you can always learn the correct ways of its usage from the smart editing examples available online.  Now, as we know what the Past Indefinite is and how to create it let’s talk on where it is to be used.

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When am I to use the Past Indefinite?

As we already know from the above the Past indefinite serves to describe the events that occurred in the past. So do  Past Continuous, Past Perfect and some Conditional tenses. How should we know whether we are to use the Past Indefinite or some other tense? If you feel awkward with the use of the Past Indefinite or other tenses, most probably your essay need to be rewritten. In this case we’d recommend to read our recent article “Rewrite an Essay and Make the Best of It!

There are three conditions that set up the use of the Past Indefinite, in grammar. They are based on such categories as the time period and the regularity of the actions described.

1. You need to express a singular action, a property or a constant attribute of a subject, that took place and completed in the period previous to the present. The past period may be indicated by the participles of time (lately, the other day, a decade ago, last night) or just be implied in the context:

They rode along the picturesque villages and enjoyed the landscapes. Their bikes were light and comfortable. So were their thoughts.

During last Summer I visited my aunt twice or thrice, and the flowers in her garden never looked worn or unkempt.

2. If some events or actions took place in the past and you intend to list them in the sequence they actually happened, use Past Indefinite:

I saw Mollie, we smiled to each other, I asked her out for a drink.

The chicken grabbed the mud and pulled out a worm.

3. The regular and constantly repeated actions that used to occur in the past can also be expressed by means of the Past Indefinite tense. Sometimes the character of such actions can be derived from the context, yet they are frequently adjoined by such participles as always, never, each month, every three days and so on:

The birds gathered in flocks and headed South every Autumn.

We wrote the letters in the school. Then we came home and wrote them there.

If such actions do not have a set place the Past Indefinite may be expressed by the set phrase used to combined with the verb infinitive:

I used to come home for weekends.

Isaac and Lisa used to play together in their childhood.

Above we have listed the ways of placing the Past Indefinite on the point of the grammar correctness pf the simple sentence. Yet there are also cases when the use of the Past Indefinite is well ground:

1. When you need to work out your text, make it more legible and easy for perception it is advisable to substitute the complex tenses, e.g. Past Perfect Continuous with the simple ones (e.g. Past Indefinite). Certainly you’ll need to ensure the general sense of the text didn’t suffer. By the way Ashley and Redgie had been to the Disneyland before. By the way Ashley and Redgie visited the Disneyland before.

Pay attention the language competency would require in most of the times the change of the verb to the synonym (had been to for visited) and according replacement of the prepositions.

2. If you wish to make a complex sentence about some previous period of time, it is most likely the Past Indefinite will be used. This clause being a bit tricky one, we’ll have a closer look at it in the paragraph below.

If you have doubts as to your English grammar and there are issues to be solved, check our article on making an essay in English http://essay-editor.net/blog/why-should-i-write-and-edit-my-essay.

Friend or Foe: what Tenses go well with the Past Indefinite

Above we have examined the cases of the Past Indefinite’ usage in the simple sentences. For the complex sentences we need to adhere to the Rule of the Sequence of Tenses: in the complex sentence the verb in the subordinate clause must be coordinated with the verb in the main clause, both in grammar and logically. Let’s see how this Rule affects the use of the Past indefinite tense. By the Rule, if the verb in the main clause is in the Present or Future tense, we can easily put the verb in the subordinate clause into the Past Indefinite (should we need to):

Corey says she attended the classes last week.

Richard will prove the medicine did arrive in time to the hospital, as soon as he reaches it.

However if the main verb is in the Past tense, there is no other choice for the subordinate one but to acquire one of the Past tenses, too. These can be Past Indefinite, Past continuous, Past Perfect, Future-in-the-Past (Conditional II). Have doubts as to the correct use of the Past Indefinite in your paper? See our article on the paper proofreading  http://essay-editor.net/blog/are-you-looking-for-a-professional-paper-proofreader .

Since Linda was a child she liked the scent of the fresh bakery taken  right off the oven.

The flowers still blossomed in the garden while April was drawing to its end.

I jumped to my feet, my fears had all arisen suddenly with the renewed force.

If Isaac put more weight to his words he would persuade the board to maintain the rates at the current level.

But the main clause of the sentence having the Past Indefinite automatically means there can be no Present or Future tense in the subordinate clause:

I told the officer my license is left at home. – I told the officer my license was left at home.

Garey said he will start his ascent to the mountains tomorrow. Garey said he would start his ascent to the mountains the next day.

The exception of this rule is the subordinate clause reflecting the facts of the common knowledge, the so-called universal truth.

We realized that the sun rises on the East but couldn’t find the source of the light anyhow.

Leslie confirmed that friendship is an important factor of the social stability of the group, and the discussion unfolded further.

Summing up all of the above, we can say that the Past indefinite tense is a wide-scope grammar category allowing to express multiple senses. It is quite easy in usage, having two types of verbs’ conjugation. The Past Indefinite is used to reflect the events that occurred and finished in the moment previous to the moment of the speech. While used in the main clause of the complex sentences, it puts the limitation to the subordinate clause – that of the verb being put in one of the Past tenses.

If you need to check and improve your grammar, check other articles on the subject in our blog:

  1. How to Learn Present Simple Easy
  2. How to Learn Future Present Tense
  3. Usage of Modal Verbs in Past and Present Tenses
  4. How to Become a Master of Indirect Speech
  5. Frequent Grammar Mistakes Everyone Can Miss

Are you on close terms with the Past Indefinite? If some point is unclear our customer support service is ready to assist you!