The Easy & Essential Notes for Teaching and Studying 'Past Tense"


PAST TENSE

When talking about past activities, one has to consider and master Past Tense verb forms and all the Forms of Past tense.
Tense may be defined as a form of verb change that introduces the past. For example, the past tense verb forms of the verbs such as; eat, go, and ask can be changed to the past verb forms like ate, went, and asked respectively.

The Past tense is the tense that is always used to talk about events which have happened already. For example:
Mabula's family moved to Tanga in 1999.
Last night, grandmother told us nice stories.
Students prepared school garden yesterday.

The common form of the past tense is formed by adding "-ed" to the end of the verb. However, some irregular verbs have their vowels changed when introducing the past activities.
For example:
We ate ugali with beans
We told the police what has happened
She came early in the morning.

TYPES OR FORMS OF PAST TENSE
Past tense has four (4) forms. They are:
1. SIMPLE PAST
A sentence in the Simple Past form describes an event that occurred in the past.
The Sentence structure: Subject + verb in past form.
a. Positive Sentences. Sentence structure: Subject + verb in past form.
I washed my clothes
She cooked ugali yesterday
They played football

b. Negative sentences. Sentence structure: Subject + did + not + base form of the verb.
I did not wash my clothes
She did not cook ugali yesterday
They did not play football

c. Interrogative sentences. Sentence structure: Did + subject + base form of verb.
Did I wash my clothes?
Did she cook ugali yesterday?
Did they play football?

Note: In interrogative and negative sentences, the verb retains the same base form and the past is introduced by the past form of the auxiliary verb 'did'.

1. PAST CONTINUOUS TENSE
The past continuous statements and questions describe something that began in the past and continued to occur for a time before stopping. Sentence structure: Subject + verb to be in past form + verb in -ing form.
a. Positive sentences. Sentence structure: Subject + verb to be in past form + verb in -ing form.
I was washing my clothes
She was cooking ugali
They were playing football

b. Negative sentences. Sentence structure: Subject + verb to be in past form + not + -ing form.
I was not washing my clothes
She was not cooking ugali
They were not playing football

c. Interrogative sentences. Sentence structure: Verb to be + subject + present participle form.
Was I washing my clothes?
Was she cooking ugali?
Were they playing football?

Note: The sentences can also be expressed by using concessions like 'when, while, since, and for'. Examples:
I was washing clothes while Juma was watering flowers.
When we knocked the door, Asha was cooking food.

3. PAST PERFECT TENSE
This kind of past tense applies to events and activities that began at a time preceding a period in the past. Sentence structure: Subject + had + past participle. Examples;
a. Positive sentences. Sentence structure: Subject + had + past participle.
I had washed my clothes
She had cooked ugali
They had played football

b. Negative sentences. Sentence structure: Subject + had + not + past participle.
I had not washed my clothes
She had not cooked ugali
They had not played football

c. Interrogative sentences. Sentence structure: Had + Subject + past participle
Had I washed my clothes?
Had she cooked ugali?
Had they played football?

Note: These sentence structures can also be expressed by using concession etc to form various sentences.
Had I known, had I finished.
Had they known, they could be late.

PAST PERFECT SUBJUNCTIVE
These are the sentences that have a past - tense sense. They are the sentences that describe counter factual events. Sentence structure: First clause - Had + subject + past participle verb form: Second clause - Subject + would + have/has + past participle verb form.

a. Positive sentences. Sentence structure: First clause - Had + subject + past participle verb form: Second clause - Subject + would + have/has + past participle verb form. Examples:
Had I washed my clothes, I would have gone to watch football match.
Had she cooked ugali, she would have watched the movie.
Had they played football well, they would have won the match.
Had they agreed with us, they would have told us by now.

b. Negative sentences: Sentence structure: First clause: Had + Subject + not + past participle verb form. Examples:
Had I not washed my clothes, I would have gone to watch football match.
Had she not cooked ugali, she would have watched the movie.
Had they not played football well, they would have won the match.
Had they not agreed with us, they would have told us by now.

c. Interrogative sentences: Sentence structure: First clause: Had + Subject + past participle verb form. Second clause: Would + Subject + have/has + past participle verb form. Examples:
Had I washed my clothes, would I have gone to watch football match?
Had she cooked ugali, would she have watched the movie?
Had they played football well, would they have won the match?
Had they agreed with us, would they have told us by now?

The sentences can also be used with 'When, while, since, and for'.

4. PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS TENSE
The sentences in this type of past tense form describe something that occurred in the past and continued to occur after the fact but in the present is no longer occurring. Sentence structure: Subject + had + been + present participle form (-ing). Examples:
a. Positive sentences. Sentence structure: Subject+ had+ been + -ing.
I had been washing my clothes
She had been cooking ugali
They had been playing football

b. Negative sentences. Sentence structure: Subject + had + not + been + -ing.
I had not been washing my clothes
She had not been cooking ugali
They had not been playing football

c. Interrogative sentences. Sentence structure: Had + subject + not+ been + -ing.
Had I not been washing my clothes?
Had she not been cooking ugali?
Had they not been playing football?

PAST HABITUAL
This is the kind of past tense sentence that describes an occurrence that once occurred continuously or repeatedly, but now they are no longer happening. Examples:
a. Positive sentences:
I used to wash my clothes
She used to cook delicious ugali
They used to play fantastic football
They used to agree with us.

b. Negative sentences. Examples:
She didn’t use to cook delicious food.
They didn’t use to play fantastic football.

c. Interrogative sentences. Examples:
Did she use to cook delicious food?
Did they use to play fantastic football?

Note:
Don’t say: They used to disagree with us. Formal ×
Say: They didn't use to agree with us. Informal √

Don’t say: Used they to agree with us?. Formal ×
Say: Did they use to agree with us?. Informal √


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