Knowing how to use the past tense in English is key to being able to express ideas and situations that have already happened, and that is a big part of communication.

When we talk about ourselves, and introduce ourselves, we usually tell what we have experienced, and we do so using the past tense. So without understanding how this verb tense works, it is very difficult to make progress in English.

Fortunately, acquiring this knowledge is easy. And even more so when you are taking English classes.

But if you’re not doing it yet, or you’re just getting started, here we’ll show you everything you need to know about the past tense in English.

Past tense forms in English

This becomes more understandable if we understand what the past tense forms are in English. That is: past simple, past continuous, past perfect and past perfect continuous.

Let’s see examples:

  • Past simple: I worked – Yo trabajo.
  • Past continuous: I was working – Yo estuve trabajando.
  • Past perfect: I had worked – Yo he trabajado.
  • Past perfect continuous: I had been working – Yo he estado trabajando.

When do we use the past tense in English?

Mainly, the past tense is used in English to talk about something that happened in the past, to talk about hypotheses or something we imagine, or for politeness.

Something that happened in the past:

He worked at IKEA.

He worked at IKEA.

To refer to hypotheses:

It could be great. Suppose the others had a good time.

It could be great. Let’s assume the others had a good time.

To show courtesy:

Excuse me, I was wondering if that was the London bus.

Excuse me, I was wondering if that was the London bus.

We can also use the past tense in English in sentences with the conditional if:

He could pass that exam if he really tried.

He could pass his exam if he really tried.

As well as to reflect hypotheses and desires:

I wish I hadn’t spent so much money yesterday.

I wish I hadn’t spent so much money yesterday.

Learn all about the past tense in English by taking a class.

Taking English classes with Lingua Language Center is easy. It doesn’t matter if you are not in Florida so you can do them in one of our locations. You can also do it online.

And if you want to move to the United States to learn English through a complete immersion, we also offer you that option.

Just write to us today to get started as soon as possible.