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III. The Present Perfect Continuous and the Present Perfect as variants.

The Present Perfect Continuous The Present Perfect Simple
with live, work, teach, feel
John has been living in London for a long time. How long have you been working here? John has lived in London for a long time. How long have you worked here?
for actions repeated over a long period of time
I have been collecting stamps since I was a child. I have collected stamps since I was a child.


The past tense refers an action to the past. Therefore it is primarily the tense of narration.



I. The Formation

Regular verbs form the Past Indefinite by adding the suffix '-ed' to the Infinitive without the particle 'to'. The Past Indefinite form of the irregular verbs should be remembered.

In interrogative sentences the auxiliary verb 'to do' in the Past Indefinite is placed before the subject. The notional verb is used in the infinitive without the particle 'to'.

In negative sentences the negative particle 'not' is placed between the auxiliary verb and the notional one.

  • He arrived yesterday.
  • Did he arrive yesterday?
  • He did not arrive yesterday.
  • He came yesterday.
  • Did he come yesterday?
  • He did not come yesterday.


II. The Use.The Past Simple is used to denote:

1) completed actions in the past (the actions are cut off from the present), past states or habits. The action may be momentary (a single action completed in the past) or prolonged (occupying a whole period of time now over).

· Shakespeare wrote “Romeo and Juliet”.

· Yesterday I got a good mark in Literature.

· She was deeply in love with him 10 years ago.

· Kitchens were small 300 years ago.

· I only met her six months ago (a single action).

· I slept eight hours yesterday (a prolonged action within a period of time now terminated).


Note 1: The time of the action may be indicated by adverbials of past time (yesterday, a week ago, last year, the other day), may be implied in the situation through the mention of the place or other attending circumstances. Sometimes reference is made to a particular action which is definite in the mind of the speaker and the hearer (without mentioning the time or the place of the action). Sometimes the time becomes definite as a result of a question and answer in the Present Perfect.

· I was in Bath in 1990.

· I ate turnips in Germany.

· He built the palace for Lord Henry.

· Did you like the bride? (You saw her at the wedding).

· Where have you been? - I have been to the opera. - Did you enjoy it?

Note 2: We can use did in an affirmative sentence to give more emphasis: Believe me, I did really tell you everything.


2) a succession of past actions (actions that followed each other in a narration).

· She looked at him for a long time and then shrugged.

· We marched all night and all day.

· My brother applied for a visa 6 times before he got one.

· Silverman ran to the car, jumped in and raced off into the night.

3) an action in progress at the past moment with stative verbs and certain durative verbs (sit, stand, lie, hang, shine, gleam, talk, speak, wear, carry, walk, etc.). The attention is focused not on its progress but it is the fact as such or the manner in which the action is presented that matters. When we speak of inanimate things the Past Simple is the norm with the verbs mentioned.

· He talked with deep emotion.

· The full moon shone down on the lightless blind-faced street.

· On the table lay three rows of cards face upwards.

4) future actions viewed from the past. It occurs:

a) in clauses of time, condition and concession:

· Probably, she knew that, whatever happened, he would not give her away.

b) when we describe official plans, schedules, programes, etc. viewed from the past:

· He told me that he started for London in a week's time.


III. 'used to + infinitive', 'would + infinitive'

In English there are special means of expressing the idea of recurrent or permanent actions in the past.

'would + infinitive'expresses the idea of a past custom. It is typical only of literary style. It is found only in past time contexts and serves to express only recurrent actions.

· He would often wake up screaming on the night.

· Almost every day he would come to my place to have a talk.

'used to + infinitive'expresses the idea of a past action or state and implies contrast between the past and the present – what was typical in the past is no longer true at present.

· I used to be sentimental.

· It used to be my playground. There used to be an old oak in the yard.


Note: Two negative forms and two interrogative forms are possible with 'used to'.

  • She didn't use to do...
  • She didn't used to do...
  • Did she use to do ...
  • Did she used to do ...

Date: 2015-12-17; view: 1076

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