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Put each verb in brackets into either the past simple, present perfect simple or present perfect continuous.

I (1) (move) to London three weeks ago to take up a new post at my company's London office. Ever since then, I (2) (wonder) if I (3) (make) the right decision. I (4) (see) a lot of negative things about living in the capital, and I can't say London (5) (make) a very favourable impression on me. It's so polluted and expensive, and the people are so distant. You see, I (6) (grow up) in a fairly small town called Devizes and I (7) (spend) all of my life there. I (8) (always/want) to live in a big city and so when my company (9) (offer) me a job in London, I (10) (jump) at the chance. I think I'm not alone in my aversion to the big city. According to a programme I (11) (just/hear) on the radio, more and more people (12) (stop) working in London recently, and a lot of large companies (13) (choose) to move away from the centre. Oh well, it's too late to change my mind now, because the job is up and running, and I (14) (already/sell) my house in Devizes. But I must admit, over the past few days, I (15) (secretly/hope) that the company would relocate me back to my old town.   The nature of intelligence For many years scientists (16) try to define the nature of human intelligence. However, they (17) (be) unable to agree on whether there is one kind of intelligence, or several kinds. In the early 20th century, psychologist Charles Spearman (18) (come up) with the concept of 'g' or 'general intelligence'. He (19) (give) subjects a variety of different tests and (20) (find) that the people who (21) (perform) well in the tests (22) (use) one part of the brain, which he (23) (call) 'g', for all the tests. More recently, research (24) (find) that this idea may well be true, as one part of the brain (the lateral prefrontal cortex) shows increased blood flow during testing. However, some scientists believe that intelligence is a matter of how much people (25) (learn) rather than some ability they are born with. They believe that environment also matters. The ageing population The number of men and women in the US aged 60 or over still in work (26) (rise) for more than a decade. Economists (27) (give) a number of reasons for this trend. First, since 1985 the US economy (28) (expand) so there (29) (be) an increased demand for labour. At the same time, the cost of some services, such as health care, (30) (increase) so workers need to earn more money in later life. In addition, changes in social security benefits and rules (31) (have) a considerable effect on labour patterns. First, in 1977 and 1983 changes to the Social Security Act (32) (raise) the full-benefit age from 65 to 67 and (33) (introduce) other changes that make delaying retirement more attractive. Then, in 1986 the Age Discrimination Act (34) (end) compulsory retirement for all workers, allowing them to work later in life. Changes to pension laws (35) (also encourage) workers to stay in employment longer, as this gives them more chance of a larger pension when they retire. 1.

Past Tenses

Past simple generally refers to or is used:


  • Completed actions

I got up, switched off the radio, and sat down again.

  • Habits

Every day I went to the park.

  • States

In those days, I didn't like reading.

  • In narrative

The door opened and two boys came into the room.

  • Very recent events, without a time expression.

What happened to you? Sameone hit me!


Past continuous (progressive) generally refers to or is used:


  • Actions in progress (often interrupted by events)

I was drinking my coffee at the time.

While I was opening the letter, the phone rang.

  • Background description in narrative

I entered the office and looked around. Most people were working at their desks, but Jane was staring out of the window and pretending to write something at the same time.

  • Changing states

The car was getting worse all the time. One of the headlights was gradually falling off, and the engine was making more and more funny noises.

  • A continuing unfinished action interrupted by a sudden past action.

While we were getting ready to go out, the rain suddenly stopped.

  • For two continuing events happening at the same time

While Jim was painting the outside of the house, Sarah was decorating the bedrooms.

  • Repeated actions - criticism

With a frequency adverb, this use is similar to the use of present continuous to express annoyance.

When Jane was at school, she was always losing things.

  • Past continuous is not used to describe general habitual actions, without the sense of criticism mentioned above. Past simple is used for this meaning.

When I lived in London, I walked through the park every day.

  • When the speaker is being more polite or less direct (Past Simple is also used). The time reference is to present time.

I was wondering what you wanted.

Did you want to see me about anything?


Past perfect generally refers to or is used:


  • An earlier past time ('double past') usually when there is no time expression to make this clear

By the time I got to the station, the train had left.

  • When we talk about a sequence of past events in the order that they happened, we more commonly use the past simple, especially with quick, short actions.

The train left five minutes before I got to the station.

  • In reported speech

He confirmed he had booked the thickets.

  • Past perfect is not used simply to describe an event in the distant past. Only use past perfect tenses when absolutely necessary to show that one event in the past happened before another event in the past.
  • In the constructions “hardly, scarcely … when/no sooner … than”

Hardly had they finished when the rain began.

  • We use the past perfect when we say what we wanted or hoped (etc.) to do, but didn't:

I had wanted to visit the gallery before I left Florence, but it's closed on Sundays.

Other verbs used like this include expect (to), mean (to), think (about + -ing).

  • When we use a time expression (e.g. after, as soon as, before, by the time (that), when) to say that one event

happened after another, we use either the past simple or past perfect for the event that happened first and the past simple for the event that happened second:

After Ivan (had) finished reading, he put out the light.

But to emphasise that the second event is the result of the first, we prefer the past simple for both:

She became famous after she appeared on the TV programme.

  • With already and just (= a very short time before) we use the past perfect, not the past simple:

The film had already begun by the time we got to the cinema.



Past perfect continuous (progressive) generally refers to or is used

  • Unfinished, recently completed or continuing events which happened before other events in the past

He 'd been working hard all morning, and he felt really tired.

  • The same contrasts between past simple and past continuous can be made in past perfect verb forms for events further back in the past.

While I had been talking on the phone, Jimmy had escaped.


Used to

  • This often contrasts with the present. The contrast may be stated or understood.

/ used to go swimming a lot (but I don't now).

  • The negative form is either:

/ didn't use to or I used not to (rare for some speakers).

  • The form didn't used to may also be found. This is usually considered incorrect, unless we consider used to as

an unchanging semi-modal form.

  • There is no present time reference possible.



  • This is used to describe repeated actions, not states. It describes a habitual activity which was typical of a person.

Every week he'd buy his mother a bunch of flowers. Used to would also be possible here.


I used to like cowboy films. Would is not possible here.

  • When we use would we need to mention a specific time or set of occasions. Compare:

We used to play in the garden.

Whenever we went to my Uncle Frank's house, we would / used to play in the garden.

  • We don't use either used to or would when we say exactly how many times something happened, how long

something took, or that something happened at a particular time:

We visited Switzerland four times during the 1970s.

She went on holiday to the Bahamas last week.

  • Would is more common in written language and often occurs in reminiscences.
  • We don't use would to talk about a particular occasion in the past. Compare:

Each time I gave him a problem he would solve it for me.

Last night I gave him a problem and he solved it for me.

  • When we use stressed would to criticize someone’s behaviour, we can also use it to talk about a particular

occasion in the past. We suggest that what happened was predictable because it was typical of a person's behaviour:

'Jackie says she can't help because she's got a lot of work on.' 'Well she would say that – she always uses that excuse.'


Past Tenses

Date: 2015-12-17; view: 5776

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Underline the correct word or phrase in each sentence. | In each sentence decide whether one, or both, of the alternative verb forms given are appropriate. Write O for one or B for both.
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