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

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

Are you sure which past tense to use and when? Do you understand why? Save years of English mistakes by watching this important lesson in which I teach you about past tenses. Discover your strengths and weaknesses in a few minutes. Then, follow my suggestions to master the grammar tenses you’ll need to use more than any other in English.


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?”

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Vocabulary Hack: Learn 30+ Verbs in 10 minutes!

Vocabulary Hack: Learn 30+ Verbs in 10 minutes!

Want to turn your basic vocabulary into advanced English vocabulary? Learn this easy trick to master 30 verbs in just 10 minutes! You’ll learn how to turn basic words into advanced vocabulary by using ‘en’ as a prefix or suffix. By using this hack to learn vocabulary, you will communicate faster, sound smarter, and speak more like a native English speaker. Click on this video to improve your vocabulary in minutes!

Practice makes perfect. So when you’re done, practice your vocabulary with our quiz at ! Feel free to check out the resources at where you can find vocabulary list PDFs you can download to improve your English!


Hi. I’m Rebecca from engVid, and I think you’re really going to like this lesson. Why? Because I’m going to give you a vocabulary shortcut that will allow you to learn 30 new words in just a few minutes. How do we do that?

Okay, well, what we’re going to do is to follow a certain pattern that involves verbs, and this is the pattern. So, what we do is we add the letters “en” at the end of an adjective or at the end of a noun. I’ll give you an example so you’ll understand exactly. Okay? Now, let’s take this adjective: “short”. So, by adding “en”, it becomes the verb “shorten”. And what does it mean to shorten something? To make it more of whatever it was; in this case, to make it shorter. Right? Or, if we take this noun: “strength”, and we add “en”, it becomes the verb “strengthen”. And to strengthen means to make something more strong, to make it stronger, to give it more strength. Okay? So, that’s the pattern. All you need to do is to add “en” to the end of certain adjectives or nouns. Now, it doesn’t work for every word in English, but it does work for lots of words, and that’s why you see many words on the board, here. Okay?

Let’s go through them. Now, these words are divided a little bit. I made it that way so that you would see that there’s different ways that we can classify the verbs. It might help you. So, first let’s look at size. For example: “short” becomes “shorten”. “Wide”: “widen”. “Deep”: “deepen”. Right? So all of these on the board now are verbs. Right? They started off either as adjectives or nouns, but we’re converting them, we are changing them into verbs, and quite dynamic verbs. All right? So instead of saying: “She made her skirt shorter”, we just say: “She shortened her skirt.” Skirt, right? Okay? Instead of saying: “They made their driveway wider”, we can just say: “They widened their driveway”, and it sounds much better, whether you’re writing, whether you’re speaking. Okay? And certainly if you’re doing an exam like the IELTS or the TOEFL. Okay? You can use these kind of vocabulary words.

Now, also, the aspect of colour. For example: “She whitened her teeth.” All right? “She darkened her hair.”, “Her face reddened.” All right? So, it works with certain colours; not every colour. We cannot add it to the word “green”, for example. There is no “greenen”, okay? But there is “redden”, “darken”, “whiten”. What you could do is as I’m saying the words, try to repeat them after me, so you become more comfortable also pronouncing them.

Now, also certain qualities. For example: “Harden”, “soften”, “thicken”. Right? “She added flour to thicken the soup.” All right? That’s one way. And then, all kinds of other words, some of them you’ve heard and some of them you may be using already, but maybe not all of them. For example: to make something sweeter is to “sweeten”. To make your skin, for example, more moist, less dry, is to “moisten”. To make something looser is to “loosen”. For example: “He loosened his tie.” Okay? I know it sounds a little bit strange if you haven’t heard these words before, but believe me, it works and it’s really quite easy. Okay?

Now, let’s do a little bit of practice so that you get very, very comfortable with this. I will do these, and then you can do some of these with me. You’ll see that it’ll become much easier as we go along. So, for example, here we have: “exercise strength”: “the exercise strengthened his muscles”. Okay? “Condition worse”: “Her condition worsened.” Okay? Good. If you… If you get the hang of it, you can say it along with me. “Love deep”: “Their love deepened.” Okay? That means what? That means that their love became deeper. All right? Stronger, in other words. “Fruit ripe”: “The fruit ripened.” Now, in case you don’t know that word, when a fruit becomes ripe, it becomes ready to eat. All right? So: “The fruit ripened.”

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