Past Tense English Grade 3 Learning Concepts | Orchids
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Past Tense


The past tense shows an action or condition, or event that has happened in the past.


  1. I played basketball yesterday.
  2. I was sad.
  3. He won the gold medal.

How to Form a Sentence in the Past Tense?

Use the present tense for the verb by adding the suffix -ed to form the verb past tense.


  1. I walked to school today. (walk +ed)
  2. They stayed at the school due to the rains. (stay + ed)

Types of Past Tense

There are four types of past tense depending on whether the action has been completed or is in progress. The four types of past tenses are as follows:

Types of Past Tense

Let’s look at their uses with examples.

Types of Past Tense Uses Examples
i. Simple Past Tense To show an activity that started and ended in the past.
  1. I went to college.
  2. They landed in the city last night.
ii.Past Continuous Tense To refer to an activity that continued for a period of time in the past. It sets the scene for the next action.
  1. I was going to school until this year.
  2. She was cooking when the doorbell rang.
iii. Past Perfect Tense To show that an action was completed before starting another.
  1. I had gone to college.
  2. She had arrived before we reached there.
iv. Past Perfect Continuous Tense To show an action that begins before a specific time in the past and continues until a time in the past.
  1. She had been cleaning floors before she joined the school.
  2. I had been studying before the load-shedding happened.

When to Use Past Tense?

The past tense can be used to describe:

  • An event or condition, or action that occurred in the past.
  • An action that has already been completed and no time is specified.
  • An action that is done regularly.
  • A feeling that was sensed in the past.
  • Events that have happened in the past in a sequence.

Forms of Past Tense

Let us look at the structure of the past tense in the affirmative, negative and interrogative forms.

Forms of Past Tense When it is Used Examples
Affirmative To show something positive or true that happened in the past.
  1. He cooked dinner.
  2. They were studying.
  3. She had practised.
  4. They had been studying.
Negative An action to deny something in the past.
  1. He did not cook dinner.
  2. They weren’t studying.
  3. She had not practised.
  4. They had not been studying.
Interrogative To ask a question regarding a past action.
  1. Did he cook dinner?
  2. Were they studying?
  3. Had she practiced?
  4. Had they been studying?

Common Mistakes

  1. Using past continuous tense to describe past habits. Use the simple past tense instead of the past continuous tense.
  2. Example:

    I walked to school daily when I was young.

    I was walking to school daily.

  3. Using the past continuous tense to highlight completed events in the past at a specific time.
  4. Example:

    I called his school at 1 o’clock yesterday afternoon.

    I was calling his school at 1 o’clock yesterday afternoon.

  5. Using present or the past perfect tense to describe a definite time in the past.
  6. Example:

    I woke up at five o’clock this morning.

    I have woken up at five o’clock today morning.

Mindmap for Past Tense
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