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Past to Present


Abilities - Responsibilities

Asking Questions

Choosing the Right Phrase

Combining Verbs

Explaining Ideas

Describing Your World

Complex Ideas

Relating Ideas, People, Objects

Speaking about Objects

Wondering about Situations

Helping Hints for the Past

Auxiliary Verbs Used with Past Tenses

Knowledge of auxiliary verbs used in various tenses is the key to correct tense conjugation. Here is a review of auxiliary verbs for past tenses:

Past Simple:

Use 'did' in the question and negative form to express something that happened at a specific moment in the past. Use no auxiliary verb in the positive form.


Wal-mart did not have the item I wanted.

When did the client request his bank transfer order?


Kevin spent all day invoicing and didn't get to write the report.

Past Continuous:

Use 'was / were' in the past tense for the positive, negative and question forms in the past continuous tense to express what was happening at a specific moment in the past.


Company A was eyeing a hostile takeover of Company B when the government intervened.

The operators were going to work on the raw materials when the alarm went off.

Past Simple Passive:

Use 'was / were' in the past for positive, negative and question in the past simple passive to express a past passive operation. Remember that the passive takes the participle form of the principal verb.


Was the commercial loan prepared by Dan?

The settlement price was just approved by both parties today.

Past Perfect:

Use 'had' in the past for the positive, negative and question forms for the past perfect tense to express something that had happened before another action occurred in the past.


What raw materials were purchased before the manufacturing of this product ceased?

How long had you been studying information technology before you decided to switch to finance?

Past Perfect Continuous:

Use the verb 'had been' in the past perfect for the positive, negative and question forms for the past perfect tense to express the duration of something that had been happening up to another past moment in time.


The economy had been struggling through a bear market for so long that people didn't know how to react.

They hadn't been using that credit card account long when they used up their card's limit.