Grammar

Simple Past Tense Errors: Here’s Your Guide to Correct English Grammar

Before you jump on to memorising different types of tenses in English grammar tables and timelines, take a moment to ask yourself...

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English grammar

Before you jump on to memorising different types of tenses in English grammar tables and timelines, take a moment to ask yourself – will you be able to recall, choose and apply the exact correct tense in the middle of a conversation? No. Nobody can unless you take 30 seconds to break before every line you speak. So how do you tackle errors of simple past tense?

Thus to improve your use of tenses you need them as they are used in real conversations, understand types of errors you are making and then work upon them by practice.

Types of Simple Past Tense Errors

The best way to identify where you might possibly make an error, is to put yourself into the middle of a conversation. The one below is between two friends who usually meet for an evening jog.

Past Tense Examples

Neha: So how was your weekend?

Pooja: Nothing much went to the Mall watched a movie, went to the Donuts shop and come back home

Neha: That sounds like every weekend. There has been at least one interesting experience every weekend.

Pooja: Well, actually there was one. When we went for lunch, there was this restaurant which had an amazing spread in their lunch buffet and they have live western music.

We went inside, started having our meal, and then suddenly my daughter started running and standing right in front of the band and to my surprise, they started playing twinkle-twinkle little stars.

The Conversation Continues

Neha: Wow, that’s sweet

Pooja: I know, they went on to play 4 more rhymes. Piya was so happy and excited.

Pooja: Anyways, how was your weekend?

Neha: Well, I would say, It was special, because of a rather unexpected visitor from our past.

Pooja: Really, “our past”, as in your and mine, then you must tell me more.

Also Read : Tips to Improve Travel English Vocabulary Words: Here’s Your Guide to Learn New Words

English Grammar Error Type 1 – Mixing Past with Present

One of the most common errors of simple past tense in English we all commit is, mixing past with the present. In the above example: In all the words marked bold, the past has been mixed with present.

Error Correction in English Grammar

Error 1- Nothing much went to the Mall watched a movie, went to the Donuts shop and come back home

  • Error correction: Nothing much, went to the Mall watched a movie, went to the Donuts shop and then came back home.

Error 2- When we went for lunch, there was this restaurant which had an amazing spread in their lunch buffet and they have live western music.

  • Error correction:  When we went for lunch, there was this restaurant which had an amazing spread in their lunch buffet and they had live western music.

Error 3- We went inside, started having our meal, and then suddenly my daughter started running and standing right in front of the band and to my surprise, they started playing twinkle-twinkle little stars.

By now you have a clear idea about this type of error of past tense. Thus correction for the last error is for you to do, meanwhile, we continue with the gossip between Neha and Pooja.

Continuation of Past Tense Example

Pooja: Really, “our past”, as in your and mine, then you must tell me more.

Neha: I was sitting in the CCD next to my house sipping coffee, reading a book I long wanted to finish. And you know who bumped into me?

Pooja: Who!!

Neha: Shalini Mehrotra

Pooja: What are you saying, “The Shalini Mehrotra”

Neha: Yes, and the best part is she didn’t change much.

Pooja: Oh god, does she still think she is a higher being?

Continued

Neha: Not really, but she is so full of her. All she talked was about, how she landed in Mumbai, and how difficult it was to settle down in a small house. She went on ranting on how she was always getting so many offers and how she had found it so difficult explaining her address to uber drivers and how this would all change in the next few days because her new SUV is scheduled for a delivery”

Pooja: My god, she stole the show

Neha: So many years have gone by, we have become mothers, but she is the same college girl.

English Grammar Error Type 2 – Changing Tenses in a Long or Complex Sentence

When it comes to describing complex past events, our tendency to make errors of simple past tense further increases and we start mixing different types of past tense.

For example: In the statement given below, all the bold marked words are not talking about the same event of the past and thus the sentence seems awkward.

“Not really, but she is so full of her. All she talked was about, how she landed in Mumbai, and how difficult it was to settle down in a small house. She went on ranting about how she was always getting so many offers and how she had found it so difficult explaining her address to uber drivers and how this would all change in the next few days because her new SUV is scheduled for a delivery”

Error Correction

Let us look at the correct version, where all the entire sentence will have correct past tense:

“ Not really, but she is so full of her. All she talked was about, how she landed in Mumbai, and how difficult it was to settle down in a small house. She went on ranting about how she was always getting so many offers and how she found it so difficult explaining her address to uber drivers and how this would all change in the next few days because her new SUV was scheduled for a delivery”

How to Tackle the Errors of Past Tense in English Grammar?

To tackle errors of the past tense you must know what is past tense and then you must attempt to read a lot of material which is generally written in the past tense. Here is a list of things you can do:-

  • Read local newspapers, which talk about events of the previous day. Event-based news has to be written in the past tense
  • Read travel-related blogs. Travel blogs written by authors based on their experiences will have to be in the past tense
  • Read fiction books. They are mostly written in the past tense.

Conclusion

Read/ listen to at least  1000 words of past, and write at least 200 words of past every week and you would be able to get rid of all errors of past in about 2 months. Initially, you can practice some exercise to understand the basics of simple past tense.

Also Read : Guide for Better Email Writing in English: Sample Email Writing to Learn the Correct Format

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