Thinking Box

Fundamentals of English Grammar - Chapter 2: Past Time

2-1 Expressing Past Time: The Simple Past

  • (a) Mary walked downtown yesterday.
    (b) I slept for eight hours last night.

    The simple past is used to talk about activities or situations that began and ended in the past (e.g., yesterday, last night two days ago, in 2010).

  • (c) Bob stayed home yesterday morning.
    (d) Our plane landed on time last night.

    Most simple past verbs are formed by adding -ed to a verb, as in (a), (c), and (d).

  • (e) I ate breakfast this morning.
    (f) Sue took a taxi to the airport yesterday.

    Some verbs have irregular past forms, as in (b), (e), and (f).

  • (g) I was buy yesterday.
    (h) They were at home last night.

    The simple past forms of be are was and were.

  • Forms of the Simple Past: Regular Verbs
    STATEMENT: I, You, She, He, It, We, They worked yesterday.
    NEGATIVE: I, You, She, He, It, We, They did not (didn't) work yesterday.
    QUESTION: Did I, you, she, he, it, we, they work yesterday?
    SHORT ANSWER: Yes, I, you, she, he, it, we, they did. OR No, I, you, she, he, it, we, they didn't.

  • Forms of the Simple Past: Be
    STATEMENT: I, She, He, It was in class yesterday. / We, You, They were in class yesterday.
    NEGATIVE: I, She, He, It was not (wasn't) in class yesterday. / We, You, They were not (weren't) in class yesterday.
    QUESTION: Was I, she, he, it in class yesterday? / Were we, you, they in class yesterday?
    SHORT ANSWER: Yes, I, she, he, it was. Yes, we, you, they were. / No, I, she, he, it wasn't. No, we, you, they weren't.

2-2 Spelling of -ing and -ed Forms

End Of Verb

  • -e
    Simple Form / -ing / -ed
    (a) simple / smiling / smiled
    hope / hoping / hoped

    -ing form: Drop the -e, add -ing.

  • Two Consonants
    (b) help / helping / helped
    learn / learning / learned

    If the verb ends in two consonants, just add -ing or -ed.

  • Two Vowels + One Consonant
    (c) rain / raining / rained
    heat / heating / heated

    If the verb ends in two vowels + a consonant just add -ing or -ed.

  • One Vowel + One Consonant
    ONE-SYLLABLE VERBS
    (d) stop / stopping / stopped
    plan / planning / planned

    If the verb has one syllable and ends in one vowel + one consonant, double the consonant to make the -ing or -ed form.

    TWO-SYLLABLE VERBS
    (e) visit / visiting / visited
    offer / offering / offered

    If the first syllable of a two-syllable verb is stressed, do not double the consonant.*

    (f) prefer / preferring / preferred
    admit / admitting / admitted

    If the second syllable of a two-syllable verb is stressed, double the consonant.

  • -y
    (g) play / playing / played
    enjoy / enjoying / enjoyed

    If the verb ends in a vowel + -y, keep the -y for the -ing form, but change the -y to -i to make the -ed form.

    (h) worry / worrying / worried
    study / studying / studied

    If the verb ends in a consonant + -y, keep the -y for the -ing form, but change the -y to -i to make the -ed form.

  • -ie
    (i) die / dying / died
    tie / tying / tied

    -ing form: Change the -ie to -y and add -ing.
    -ed form: Just add -d.

*EXCEPTIONS: Do not double "w" or "x": snow, snowing, snowed, fix, fixing, fixed.

2-5 Regular Verbs: Pronunciation of -ed Endings

  • (a) talked = talk/t/
    stopped = stop/t/
    hissed = hiss/t/
    watched = watch/t/
    washed = wash/t/

    Final -ed is pronounced /t/ after voiceless sounds.
    You make a voiceless sound by pushing air through your mouth.
    No sound comes from your throat.

    Examples of voiceless sounds: /k/, /p/, /s/, /ch/, /sh/.

  • (b) called = call/d/
    rained = rain/d/
    lived = live/d/
    robbed = rob/d/
    stayed = stay/d/

    Final -ed is pronounced /d/ after voiced sounds.
    You make a voiced sound from your throat. Your voice box vibrates.

    Examples of voiced sounds: /l/, /n/, /v/, /b/, and all vowel sounds.

  • (c) waited = wait/ǝd/
    needed = need/ǝd/

    Final -ed is pronounced /ǝd/ after "t" and "d" sounds.
    Adding /ǝd/ adds a syllable to a word.

2-6 Simple Past and Past Progressive

  • Simple Past
    (a) Mary walked downtown yesterday.
    (b) I slept for eight hours last night.

    The SIMPLE PAST is used to talk about an activity or situation that began and ended at a particular time in the past (e.g., yesterday, last night, two days ago, in 2008), as in (a) and (b).

  • Past Progressive
    (c) I sat down at the dinner table at 6:00 P.M. yesterday. Tom came to my house at 6:10 P.M.
    I was eating dinner when Tom came.
    (d) I went to bed at 10:00. The phone rang at 11:00.
    I was sleeping when the phone rang.

    The PAST PROGRESSIVE expresses an activity that was in progress (was occurring, was happening) at a point of time in the past (e.g., at 6:10) or at the time of another action (e.g., when Tom came).
    In (c): eating was in progress at 6:10; eating was in progress when Tome came.

    Form: was/were + -ing

  • (e) When the phone rang, I was sleeping.
    (f) The phone rang while I was sleeping.

    when = at that time
    while = during that time
    Examples (e) and (f) have the same meaning.

  • Forms of the Past Progressive
    STATEMENT: I, She, He, It was working. / You, We, They were working.
    NEGATIVE: I, She, He, It was not (wasn't) working. / You, We, They were not (weren't) working.
    QUESTION: Was I, she, he, it working? / Were you, we, they working?
    SHORT ANSWER: Yes, I, she, he, it was. Yes, you, we, they were. / No, I, she, he, it wasn't. No, you, we, they weren't.

2-7 Expressing Past Time: Using Time Clauses

  • (a) After I finished my work, I went to bed.
    (b) I went to bed after I finished my work.

    After I finished my work = a time clause*
    I went to bed = a main clause
    Examples (a) and (b) have the same meaning.
    A time clause can
    (1) come in front of a main clause, as in (a).
    (2) follow a main clause, as in (b).

  • (c) I went to bed after I finished my work.
    (d) Before I went to bed, I finished my work.
    (e) I stayed up until I finished my work.
    (f) As soon as I finished my work, I went to bed.
    (g) The phone rang while I was watching TV.
    (h) When the phone rang, I was watching TV.

    These words introduce time clauses:
    after / before / until / as soon as / while / when + subject and verb = a time clause

    in (e): until = to that time and then no longer**
    in (f): as soon as = immediately after

    PUNCTUATION: Put a comma at the end of a time clause when the time clause comes first in a sentence (comes in front of the main clause):
    time clause + comma + main clause
    main clause + no comma + time clause

  • (i) When the phone rang, I answered it.

    In a sentence with a time clause introduced by when, both the time clause verb and the main verb can be simple past. In this case, the action in the when-clause happened first.
    In (i): First: The phone rang. Then: I answered it.

  • (j) While I was doing my homework, my roommate was watching TV.

    In (j): When two actions are in progress at the same time, the past progressive can be used in both parts of the sentence.

*A clause is a strucure that has a subject and a verb.
*Until can also be used to say that something does NOT happen before a particular time: I didn't go to bed until I finished my work.

2-8 Expressing Past Habit: Used To

  • (a) I used to live with my parents. Now I live in my own apartment.
    (b) Ann used to be afraid of dogs, but now she likes dogs.
    (c) Al used to smoke, but he doesn't anymore.

    Used to expresses a past situation or habit that no longer exists at present
    FORM: used to + the simple form of a verb

  • (d) Did you used to live in Paris?
    (OR Did you use to live in Paris?)

    QUESTION FORM: did + subject + used to (OR did + subject + used to)*

  • (e) I didn't used to drink coffee at breakfast, but now I always have coffee in the morning.
    (OR I didn't use to drink coffee.)
    (f) I never used to drink coffee at breakfast, but now I always have coffee in the morning.

    NEGATIVE FORM: didn't used to (OR didn't use to)*

    Didn't use(d) to occurs infrequently. More commonly, people use never to express a negative idea with used to, as in (f).

*Both forms (used to and use to) are possible in questions and hegatives. English language authorities do not agree on which is preferable. This book uses both forms.

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