Simple Past Tense
Mrs. Beena bagged the first place in cooking competition. Everyone wanted to know how she had made such a delicious cake.
Beena – First I whisked the eggs with a beater. Then I added sugar to it. After that I blended in it butter and sugar. Later I sieved the flour with the baking powder and then added it to the mixture. After that I placed it in a container and microwaved/baked it for thirty minutes.
Mrs. Beena is narrating how she had baked the cake to her friends. This is a simple narration of an action that took place in the past. We use the ‘Simple Past Tense’ to narrate any incident, tasks or stories.
Past Continuous Tense
Naina, the monitor of class 5A was ready with her list of complaints when the teacher came in. She said, “Teacher, while you were away, the class was making a noise. Rita was singing loudly and Sarita was writing on the board. Aamir and Akhil were playing with pens.”
Notice ‘while you were away’.
In this context, at a particular time, when the action was being done, someone who was witnessing it is narrating the same to someone else in the present. In such case, we use the ‘Past Continuous Tense’.
Past Perfect Tense
Karim recalls an incident. “I had sent Ram Singh a letter long back. Since then I haven’t received any reply from him.”
Meena said, “I had been to the botanical garden once but I don’t remember seeing lilacs there.”
In the above contexts, Karima and Meena recall an incident that happened in the far past, the consequence of which is seen in the present or the action is linked to the present.
The tense used here is ‘Past Perfect Tense’.
How do we know when to use the simple past and past perfect?
Have you ever been confused with present perfect and past perfect?
Let us now understand the nuances.
Past Perfect Continuous Tense
Just like Present Perfect Continuous Tense, Past perfect continuous is a combination of Past continuous and past perfect.
Past continuous – What were you doing then?
I was watching a movie.
Past perfect –I had watched the movie long ago but I don’t remember the story.
Past perfect continuous – I had been watching a movie ………when the doorbell rang.
Let us read some more examples to understand this tense.
Mr. Roy – I had been insisting my tenant to pay the rent on time but he never did. So I asked him to vacate the house.
If we use past perfect to convey the same, it would be – I had insisted my tenant…..(Here the action of insisting has happened once.)
But in Past. Per Cont, the action of insisting the tenant to pay the rent on time continued for a period of time.
Had been insisting – distant past
Did, asked – recent past