Learn English Tenses: Past Simple, Past Continuous, Past Perfect, or Present Perfect?


Hi. I’m Rebecca from engVid, and this lesson is
going to save you years of English mistakes. Why? Because it’s a
diagnostic lesson. In just a few minutes you’ll find out
what you know and don’t know regarding the past tenses in English. And why is that important? For two reasons. First, you can focus on what you don’t know
and improve those areas and improve quickly, and second because the past tenses are among the
most important tenses that we use in English. Okay? And at the end of the lesson after you’ve
done the exercise and you find out what you might get wrong or right, I’ll show you
exactly how to improve, what you can do. Some simple steps. Okay? Let’s get started. So, number one: “It rains
all day yesterday.” Okay? So these are all sentences
in the past tense. Okay? There are four tenses we’re covering: Past
simple, past continuous, present perfect, and past perfect. Okay? So, all of these sentences
have some mistakes. You try to find out:
What’s the mistake? If you know, then
you know that part. If you don’t, we’ll
see what to do. So: “It rains all
day yesterday.” What’s wrong with that sentence? Okay. So, we’re talking about yesterday so we know
it’s in the past, so what’s wrong is here, this verb is right now
in the present simple. It should be… It should be in the past. So then this sentence should
be in the past simple. So if you didn’t
know that, then… Then you need to review
the past simple. Okay? Number two: “Have you
seen Maria last week? Have you seen Maria last week?” What’s wrong with that sentence? Or that question, rather. Can you find the mistake? Okay, so the mistake is this: When we say: “Have you
seen”, that’s which tense? Present perfect. But then we go on to say: “Have
you seen Maria last week?” That’s a problem, because when we use the
present perfect tense, we cannot use a finished time with it. If you use a finished time, like last week,
then you have to change this question and make it into past simple. For example: “Did you
see Maria last week?” That’s one way to
fix that question. And the other way, if we wanted to keep
it present perfect-right?-we would say: “Have you seen Maria
this week?” for example. Okay? That… Of course, that has a different meaning, but
if you’re going to use this tense then if you have a timeframe you can only talk about
time which is either still going on, like this week, today, this
month, this year, and so on. Okay? So if you made a mistake here,
remember to review present perfect. Okay? Just make a note of that. Next: “Gary studied
when I arrived. Gary studied when I arrived.” What’s wrong there? There is a little mistake
there, and it’s here. Okay? This should be: “Gary was
studying”-right?-“when I arrived”. Now, “was studying”
is past continuous. So, why do we need
past continuous there? Because the action of
studying takes some time. Right? It doesn’t happen in one second. So he was studying, and studying, and studying, and
then in the middle of this studying I arrived. “Arrived” doesn’t take time, so “arrived”
can be in the past simple tense. That’s fine. I arrived, it’s
finished, it’s over. But Gary was studying, and studying, and studying,
and studying, and I came in the middle of that. Okay? So these are the kinds of things you have
to know about these tenses in order to use them correctly. So, if you made a mistake here,
remember to review past continuous. Remember at the end of the lesson I’ll
tell you exactly how you can review these. Okay? Next, number four: “When
have you sent the email?” Okay? “When have you sent the email?” Okay. So, the problem here, again, is that the
tense that’s used is present perfect. But with present perfect we
cannot use the word “when”. If you use the question word “when”, then
you need to change this entire question to past simple. “When did you send the email?” Okay? “When did you send the email?” Because when I ask you that question you’re
going to tell me sometime in the past that’s finished and over. So that’s past simple,
and not present perfect. So if you made a mistake here, you should
really review past simple, but more importantly also, again, present perfect. Okay? A little bit of both. If you just said here: “Have you sent the email?”
then it’s fine and it’s present perfect. Okay? But if you need to use the question word
“when”, remember to change it to past simple. Good. Number five: “Did you
ever see this movie? Did you ever see this movie?” Now, this one is almost correct because most
of the time we use another tense, but you could use this. Okay? “Did you ever see this movie?” It’s possible that you will hear people saying
that, but as a grammar teacher and as an English teacher I’m telling you that actually
what you should say here is: “Have you ever seen this movie?” Okay? Because “ever” is one of those words that we
in fact do use a lot with the present perfect tense. So when you see the word “ever”:
“Have you ever seen this movie? Have you ever read this book? Have you ever visited Japan?” Right? Questions like that, really, you should be
using present perfect and not past simple. So this one is also
present perfect. Remember to review that
if you got that wrong. Number six: “When the guests
arrived, I already cooked dinner. When the guests arrived, I
already cooked dinner.” So what’s wrong there? The clue is actually from
this word, “already”. Okay? So here we are
talking about what? We’re talking about two actions
that happened in the past. But one happened
before the other. What happened first? “I already cooked
dinner”, right? I cooked dinner first, and
then the guests arrived. So: “When the
guests arrived I… I had already cooked dinner.” So that is an example of when
we can use the past perfect. Past perfect is used when we’re talking about
two actions and you want to show that one of them happened first in the past,
although both of them happened in the past. The past perfect part of the sentence shows
you what happened first in the past. So, if you didn’t know that then
please review the past perfect. Okay? You’re doing fine. Don’t worry. You’re doing great. Number seven: “I wasn’t
understanding what you said. I wasn’t understanding
what you said.” Well, that’s not right. It should be: “I didn’t understand
what you said.” Why? Because there are certain verbs which
we cannot use in the continuous form. They are called stative verbs. So you have to know what they are, and when
you learn the continuous tense you usually come across this part of the lesson, stative
verbs, and you need to know there are certain verbs you cannot use with… In this continuous form. So you can never say:
“I’m not understanding” or “I’m understanding”,
or “I was understanding”. No. You can only use it
in the simple form. So if you got that wrong, then please
check your past continuous tense. Okay? You need to know when you learn that tense
that there’s certain verbs, stative verbs which we cannot use in that
kind of continuous form. Okay? And the last one: “When I reached the
airport, the flight already left.” Okay, we did one similar
to this back here. “When I reached the airport,
the flight already left.” So, again, what’s going on here? Two actions in the past, and you want to show
that one of those actions happened first. The action that happened first we have to
express using the past perfect tense, which means we need to say: “The
flight had already left.” When I reached the airport, before
that the flight had already left. So if you weren’t sure about that or you got it
wrong, then please review the past perfect tense. Okay? Now, I know there’s quite a lot
to do, but you can master it. But if you don’t understand why it was wrong,
that’s what I want you to be able to do because you’re not going to have a
teacher with you all the time. You are your own teacher, so as you get better
at understanding what the reasons were why these were wrong, you will be able to
improve your English very, very quickly. So, what should you do now? Well, you should do this: Go to
our website at www.engvid.com. There, you can do a
quiz on this subject. Right? On these tenses that we did. That’s the first thing. Second, you can watch hundreds of other
videos about these tenses and you may… You will find lessons on past simple, past
continuous, present perfect, past perfect. You can watch those. Okay? Also, I’ve written a resource which you can
look at and you can download it for free, and it’s called: “English Verb
Tenses”, you can also refer to that. And besides that, you can subscribe to my
channel because I have a lot of lessons that are going to save you
lots and lots of time. Okay? Your time is precious. Learn the important mistakes that
students make, which I know because I’ve been teaching English for more than
25 years, and I know I can help you. Okay? Thanks very much for watching and
good luck with your English. Bye for now.

100 thoughts on “Learn English Tenses: Past Simple, Past Continuous, Past Perfect, or Present Perfect?

  1. Hi I have a question about 3 and 7 rows. For exam.
    Gary studied when I arrived = Gary was studying when I arrived. (You changed in this way)
    I wasn't understanding what you said = I didn't understand what you said. (Why are we changing "was + Verb + ing" to "did +Verb" )

  2. This is great English lessons to learn and very clear understanding. Thanks.

  3. if gary was studying and studying then we said gary was studying and studying??? what the different??

  4. Muchas gracias 😘, entendi todo, mañana tengo examen de todas las gramticas de present and past 😁, y gracias a tu entendi todo 😂😂 ❤❤❤

  5. present perfect Tense Contains: Have / Has + 3rd form of verb. so what u say about 4th example
    need some help

  6. Mam Rebecca, how are you? can I request to you to discuss all of tenses and its usage thank you and more power….

  7. 25 years in teaching??? Wow I'm excited ma'am. 👏👏👏
    I hope your channel can help me to improve my skill in English to being a master🙏❤😊
    Thanks alot ma'am.

  8. good day
    i like your kind of teaching because it quiet easy .i have 64 years old and for me it is a pleasure watching in youtub your vidios all are interesting and educated. i wonder myself and i say perhaps one day i will speak fluenty.english.
    thanks a lot.

  9. I love you mam. You are a cool teacher. Oh my God i have soooo much mistakes.

  10. I'm a fan of you're class's and I'm maintain notes for some classes. Thanks mam

  11. 2nd sentence could it express as: Had you ever seen Maria last week?

    Thank you for the video.

  12. May I correct you Ma'am? No.4 you mistakenly wrote "present perfect",which supposed to be past simple tense,wasn"t it?

  13. Also no.7,was that an example of past simple because you put there past continuous which you had already corrected,before u wrote the past continuous beside no.7?

  14. number 6. Is it also correct to say? "I already cooked the dinner when the guests arrived."

  15. can someonne plz tell me why we didn't say it was raining all day since its an action that take time

  16. Answer at 12:51 is a bit dicky. No I wasn't… GREAT VIDEO by the way. Very helpful.

  17. For number two
    May I say.
    Did you see Maria last week?
    Is it right? 🌹

  18. Teacher thank you❤❤.
    Can I say I had just arrived before Aila went. 🙏

  19. Q: When use the “have “? A: Two action in one tense ,the “had” add in first action.

  20. Sharing Knowledge is Virtue. Heartiest Thanks and appreciations, Ma'am (Ravi)

  21. please say it whether it is correct…what did the child see in the poem? Ans.The child see a little bird…or see need to be changed by saw..please guide me

  22. Teacher thank you♥♥. Can i say i had Just arrived before Aila went?

  23. So basically I need to reveiw all of them and history repeats itslef 😀

  24. That's why you are my favourite teacher on engvid.. Great ..Thanks Rebecca.

  25. I struggle somethimes when using HAVE and HAD but I did know everything you taught in this video :S

  26. i have seen so many times past perfect tense without past simple please explain this concept

  27. Me out with all my grammar spellings and problems so I just want to say thank you😄😄😄🤗

  28. I can't say "understanding", but can I say "I wasn't getting what you said" or "I wasn't getting what you were saying"?

  29. Past simle tense form :- subject + verb(v2)
    So I think the correct way is. Did you saw maria last week? In second sentence

  30. Thank you for all the video. Now can i say, i can learn more faster than in the last 10 years. Thx.

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