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Unit 4 The Past Indefinite (Simple) Tense




 

Formation

The Simple Past tense in regular verbs is formed by adding the suffix –ed or by using the simple past form of an irregular verb. The same form is used for all persons.

Infinitive: to work Simple past: worked

to go went

The negative of regular and irregular verbs is formed with did not (didn't) and the infinitive:

I did not/didn 't work

you did not/didn't work

The interrogative of regular and irregular verbs is formed with did + subject + infinitive:

did I work? did you work?

 

Spelling rules

 

1 Verbs ending in -e add -d: phone/phoned, smile/smiled. This rule applies equally to agree, die, lie, age, free, knee, referee, tiptoe

2 Verbs not ending in -e add -ed: ask/asked, clean/cleaned, follow/followed, video/videoed

3 Verbs spelt with a single vowel letter followed by a single consonant
letter double the consonant: beg/begged, rub/rubbed, stop/stopped

4 In two-syllable verbs the final consonant is doubled when the last
syllable contains a single vowel letter followed by a single consonant
letter and is stressed: pre'fer/preferred, re'fer/referred, occur/occurred

Compare:'benefit/benefited, 'differ/differed and 'profit/profited

5 Verbs ending in -y following a consonant change the y into i before adding ed:

carry/ carried, try/ tried. But y following a vowel does not change: obey/ obeyed.

6 In British English when a two syllable verb ends in a single vowel letter followed by a single –l, the –l is doubled before –ed even if there is no stress on the last syllable: travel/travelled, quarrel/quarrelled. A few other verbs have their final consonant letter doubled: program/programmed, worship/worshipped, kidnap/kidnapped.

BUT! American English: travel/traveled, worship/worshiped

 

Main uses

1For a past action when the time is given. The past reference can be shown by various adverbs of time such as: yesterday, the day before yesterday, last (that) Saturday, last (that) week/month/year, an hour/minute/second ago, in 1790, at one time, once, recently, the other day, just now.

I met him yesterday. Pasteur died in 1895.

2 When the time is asked about:

When did you meet him?

3When the action clearly took place at a definite time even though this time is not mentioned. There may be the indication of the definite place where an action happened:

I met him at the meeting. Who did you see in the hospital?

The train was ten minutes late. How did you get your present job? I bought this car in Montreal.

4Sometimes the time becomes definite as a result of a question and answer in the present perfect:

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

5 The simple past tense is used for an action whose time is not given but which (a) occupied a period of time now terminated, or (b) occurred at a moment in a period of time now terminated.

He worked in that bank for four years. (but he does not work there now)

She lived in Rome for a long time. (but she is not living there now)

My grandmother once saw Queen Victoria.

Did you ever hear Maria Callas sing?

6 The simple past tense is also used for a past habit:

He always carried an umbrella. They never drank wine.

There are more ways of expressing habitual actions in the past:

6A by means of the form used to + infinitive to express a past habit or a past situation which contrasts with the present. It can be found with expressions like: but...now, but not any more, but not any longer. In Russian it’s rendered by “прежде, раньше, бывало”.



Some years ago he used to call me every day, he never does it now.

Used to + infinitive can also refer to past states:

He used to be very polite.

!!! The negative form is I didn’t use to ...

6B by means of would+ infinitive to express will, insistence. It is used to describe repeated actions, not states. When we use this construction we need to mention a specific time or a set of occasions. In Russian it’s rendered by “бывало”.

This used to be my mother’s room, and I would sit here for hours.

Whenever we went to the country we would play in the garden.

7The simple past is used for a succession of past actions:

I entered the room, looked around and noticed a letter on the table.

8The simple past may be used to express a future action viewed from the past:

She noticed she would do it if nothing unexpected happened.

 

Practice

Ex. 25 Explain the use of the Past Indefinite in the following sentences:

1. Then a bomb hit close by. He felt himself being lifted. Then he was out. Later, he opened his eyes. He began to hurt and he didn't think about anything for a long time. 2. At home we heated soup. 3. A netting wire fence ran all around the house to keep out rabbits and deer. 4. My aunt looked after my father and they lived in our old house. 5. "Wow!" he said to the wide straw hat I wore. 6. He always smiled at children and gave them sweets. 7. He moved across the lawn to the house and I followed him. The moonlight fell in streaks through the leaves. 8. "Did you hear about the party?" "It was a complete failure?" 9. You heard what he said. 10. She knew her brother at the University where he lectured on physics. 11. That evening she had a date with a man who sold cosmetics. 12. He sat down and silently took one of the cigarettes from the desk.13. In Port-au-Prince nobody walked at night. 14. The office smelt like a stage dressing-room. 15. He collected books on Carribean flora. 16. He added after a pause, "I saw you talking to the captain just now." 17. He did his best to look after her; he took her out on long slow strolls; he saw that she went to bed early. 18. He decided that he would make sure that their promise came true. 20. I wonder what happened to him in India.

 

Ex. 26 Complete the newspaper story about a fire. Put in the past simple forms of the verbs:

Two people ... (die) in a fire in Ellis Street, Oldport yesterday morning. They ... (be) Herbert and Molly Paynter, a couple in their seventies. The fire ... (start) at 3.20 am. A neighbour, Mr Aziz, ... (see) the flames and ... (call) the fire brigade. He also ... (try) to get into the house and rescue his neighbours, but the heat ... (be) too great. The fire brigade ... (arrive) in five minutes. Twenty fire-fighters ... (fight) the fire and finally ... (bring) it under control. Two fire-fighters ... (enter) the burning building but ... (find) the couple dead.

 

Ex. 27 Complete the conversation. Put in the past simple negatives and questions:

Claire: ... (you / have) a nice weekend in Paris?

Mark: Yes, thanks. It was good. We looked around and then we saw a show. ... (we / not / try) to do too much.

Claire: What sights ... (you / see)?

Mark: We had a look round the Louvre. ... (I / not / know) there was so much in there.

Claire: And what show ... (you / go) to?

Mark: Oh, a musical. I forget the name. ... (I / not / like) it.

Claire: Oh, dear. And ... (Sarah / enjoy) it?

Mark: No, not really. But we enjoyed the weekend. Sarah did some shopping, too, but ... (I / not / want) to go shopping.

Ex. 28 Translate the sentences using the Present Indefinite or the Past Indefinite:

1. Я очень благодарен вам за то, что вчера при встрече напомнили ему об этом. 2. Он улыбнулся, когда увидел своего приятеля в окне вагона. 3. Жаль, что вы не хотите воспользоваться такой возможностью. 4. Шофер остановил машину и сказал, что мотор не в порядке и надо его проверить. 5. Этой книги уже нет в продаже. Жаль, что я не купил ее на прошлой неделе. 6. Кажется, он интересуется химией. – Да, он увлекался ею еще в школе. 7. Я даже еще сейчас сержусь на вас за то, что вы были так невнимательны вчера. 8. Наша библиотека снабжает студентов всеми нужными им книгами. 9. Он был настолько самоуверен, что считал, что к нему эти правила не относятся. 10. По его улыбке я понял, что ему приятно услышать эти новости.





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