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:
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.
Glen didn't agree with the advocacy plan they read to us last Thursday.
Where did the affected population flee to after the nuclear accident last March?
Jason circulated a new petition last week.
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.
Tom was writing the vision statement on the computer when he had his boss come in the door.
I wasn't collecting voluntary contributions as a funding model when he first explained it to me.
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.
Our operational NGO was founded in India.
Our organizational structure wasn't designed in time for the incorporation process.
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.
We hadn't had time to prepare an action alert before the street protests erupted spontaneously.
Had you confirmed the partnership before launching the new brand?
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.
We hadn't been assessing the data for long when they demanded a firm percentile.
They hadn't been discussing the new technology for more than twenty minutes before the subject of its adaptive capacity was raised.