Speak About:



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.

Did you get caught in that speculative bubble with real estate in your area?


The company got a patent for its new product last week.

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.


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

He was negotiating the final contract details when the computer crashed.

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.


The cancelled check was mailed by bank.

The construction loan was approved last week.

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.


They hadn't come up with enough votes before they protested the bill.

The limited liability company was listed in the newspaper for its recent success.

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.


They had not been discussing the negative points about capital allowance when the manager entered the office.

She had been doing well financially until she wrote a bank draft for more than was in her account.