Lesson 40: VERBS & PAST TIME

Which one do you use?

Past?: He worked
Present perfect?: He has worked
Past perfect?: He had worked
Past?: He was working
Present perfect?: He has been working
Past perfect?: He had been working

Simple formation

ACTIVITIES: did you finish them?


I read a book last night.
It was very exciting.

He had studied Arabic before, so
it was easy for him to understand.

The car is OK now. They have repaired it.

She watched TV last night.


I didn't know anybody there.

They liked fruit more than anything else.

I believed all his stories.

Continuous Formation

ACTIVITIES: did you finish them?


I was reading a book. That's why I missed the TV show.

He had been studying Arabic for four years and he wanted to practice.

Their hands are dirty because they have been repairing the car.

She was watching TV when the phone rang.


NOT I wasn't knowing

NOT They were liking

NOT I was believing

You cannot decide to do these things and then stop. They are not actions, so we cannot use the continuous formation.

NOTICE: If you want to show clearly that the state is now finished, you can use used to (Lesson 38). For example:

I used to believe all his stories, but now I know he's a liar.

I didn't use to know anybody there, but now I have lots of friends.

Past simple

Are we interested in exactly when?


I saw the film yesterday.

Did you go to England on your holiday?

He didn't do his homework last night.

Is it important for now?


I broke my leg, so I had to go to the hospital.

It wasn't a comfortable trip. I needed two days to recover from it.

Charles Dickens, the famous author, died at the age of fifty-eight.
(This is history.)

Can it happen again?


Shakespeare wrote many plays.
(He is dead now.)

Present perfect simple

Are we interested in exactly when?


I've seen the film. It's good.

Have you ever been to England?

He has not done his homework yet.

Is it important for now?


Help! I think I've broken my leg.

It hasn't been a comfortable trip. I feel terrible.

Maria Jones, the famous singer, has died at the age of seventy-six.
(This is news.)

Can it happen again?


My friend Sam has written many plays.
(He may write more.)


I was in Toronto for three days. (finished)

I have been in Toronto for three days. (unfinished)

Past perfect

Use past perfect when it is important to show what happened first (Lesson 26).

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