Past Tense


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Read the Passage A :

Arif left for school in time. On the way he met his friend Saif. They were good friends. They used to practise speaking English. They started walking together. The sky was cloudy. So they were walking fast. They had reached the school gate before it began to rain.Arif and Saif ran into the classroom. The bell rang and the school started. No sooner had the teacher entered the class than the students stood up. They all gave attention while the teacher taught the lesson. The class was going on. The teacher asked some questions to test what the students had learnt during the lesson. The period being over, the bell rang. The class had been going on for 45 minutes before the bell rang.

The above, passage contains the sentences of the four forms of past tense.

Read the following examples :

  1. Past Indefinite Tense:This tense is used to express

*An action done in the past: Rafiq got a prize.

A regular past habit: He studied regularly. (or we may say ‘used to’ before the present form of verb)

He used to study regularly.

Note: For an irregular past habit would is used. after the verb: He would come here while he was in Dhaka. I would walk in the morning.

*Action of two verbs going on at the same time: While we worked, they played (while we were working, they were playing).

*Action of a definite time in the past: He came at 3 p.m. They came yesterday. He died many days ago.

  1. Past Continuous Tense:It denotes an action going on in the past: The sun was rising when you woke up. They were playing in the garden. .
  2. Past Perfect Tense:It denotes an action that was completed before another past action:

I had reached the school before the bell rang.

He said that he had finished his lesson.

The train had already left when I reached the station.

Note: If the sentence contains ‘before’ the following sequence is maintained: Past perfect tense + before + past indefinite tense.

I had reached the station before the train left.

If the sentence contains ‘after’ the following sequence is maintained: Past indefinite tense + after + past perfect tense

The train left after I had reached the station.

If the sentence is introduced by no sooner had, hardly had, scarcely had, the subject is used before ‘had’:

No sooner had we reached the station than the train left.

Hardly had we reached home when it began to rain.

Scarcely had we reached home before it began to rain.

  1. Past Perfect Continuous Tense :This tense denotes that an action had been going on before another past action.

I had been reading the book before you came.”

Exercise :

Read the passage A again and identify the tenses.

Fill in the gaps with the verbs given in the box. Use the right form of past tense.

live to be take make tell return go start

Amin [dash] a poor villager. He did not have any work to earn. He[dash] three children. His wife [dash] a housewife. They [dash] in want. They [dash] a loan from the Grameen bank and [dash] a grocery. They worked very hard. They        a good profit. One day Amin was [dash] to wholesale market to buy some goods. On the way, he saw that some health workers telling people about family planning. He listened to them. He bore in mind what he [dash] heard them saying. Later, he [dash] his wife about it after he had [dash] home.

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