The past tense (abbreviated pst) is a grammatical tense that places an action or situation in the past of the current moment (in an absolute tense system), or prior to some specified time that may be in the speaker's past, present, or future (in a relative tense system).[1] Not all languages mark verbs for the past tense (Mandarin Chinese, for example, does not); in some languages, the grammatical expression of past tense is combined with the expression of mood and/or aspect (see tenseaspectmood). Some languages that mark for past tense do so by inflecting the verb, while others do so by using auxiliary verbs (and some do both). In English, the so-called simple past form, also called the preterite, is a true tense in that its use always places the action in the past.[1] The present perfect form is an aspect that relates the past to the present; it specifies a present state that results from past action, and as such it is a form of present tense even though it makes reference to past action.[2] It can be altered to move the time that the state is experienced to the past. The other basic form of English verbs is the progressive aspect form, which shows ongoing action; this too can be altered to place the action in the past. English also has two forms, one of them unique to the past, that indicate past habitual action. The simple past is formed for regular verbs by adding -d or ed to the root of a word. Examples: He walked to the store, or They danced all night. A negation is produced by adding did not and putting the verb in its infinitive form. Example: He did not walk to the store. Question sentences are started with did as in Did he walk to the store? The simple past is used for describing acts that have already been concluded, regardless of whether they took place habitually or are viewed as a single occurrence seen as a unit (but not if they are viewed as having occurred continuously). It is commonly used in storytelling. The past progressive is formed by using a simple past form of to be (was or were) and the main verbs present participle: He was going to church. This form indicates that an action was continuously ongoing. By inserting not before the main verb a negation is achieved. Example: He was not going to church. A question is formed by fronting the simple past form of to be as in Was he going?. The emphatic past is formed by using the auxiliary verb "to do" and the uninflected main verb, (I did walk, He did walk). This emphasizes the idea communicated and can be used to remove doubt or preempt objection on the part of the listener. ("I did not know you were coming." "You did know! I called you last night.") The past habitual can be formed in one of two ways. One construction is formed by used to plus the bare form of the main verb (or, technically and equivalently, by used plus the to-infinitive of the main verb). With an action verb it indicates that something occurred repetitively, as in I used to go there, while with a stative verb it indicates that a state was continuously in effect, as in I used to belong to that club. The used to form can be used whether or not the specific time frame of the action is specified (I used to go there; I used to go there every Friday in June). The negation of this form is exemplified by I used not to go there, although in informal usage I didn't use to go there is frequently heard. The interrogative form Used you to go there? is rare; the informal alternative Did you use to go there? is sometimes heard. The other past habitual form uses the auxiliary verb would (which has other uses as well). For example, Last June I would go there daily conveys repetitive action. When this form is used, it must be accompanied by an explicit time frame (so for example I would go there. does not occur unless the time frame has already been specified). This form is negated as in Last June I would not go there daily, and it is made interrogative as in Last June, would you go there daily?. The past perfect is formed by combining the simple past form of to have with the past participle form of the main verb: We had shouted. This form conveys that an action occurred before a specified time in the past, so it is actually a "past of the past" tense. A negation is achieved by including not after had: You had not spoken. Questions in past perfect always start with had: Had he laughed? The past perfect progressive is formed by had (the simple past of to have), been (the past participle of to be) and the present participle of the main verb: You had been waiting. This form describes action which happened in continuous fashion prior to some time in the past. For negation, not is included before been: I had not been waiting. A question sentence is formed by starting with had: Had she been waiting? If emphasis is put on the duration of an action that continued to the reference time in the past, since and for are signal words for the past perfect progressive: We had been waiting at the airport since the 9 P.M. flight; We had been waiting there for three hours.

German uses two forms for the past tense. The preterite (Prateritum) (called the "imperfect" in older grammar books, but this, a borrowing from Latin terminology, ill describes it.) The perfect (Perfekt) In South Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the preterite is mostly used solely in writing, for example in stories. Use in speech is regarded as snobbish and thus very uncommon. South German dialects, such as the Bavarian dialect, as well as Yiddish, and Swiss German have no preterite, but only perfect constructs. In certain regions, a few specific verbs are used in the preterite, for instance the modal verbs and the verbs haben (have) and sein (be). Es gab einmal ein kleines Madchen, das Rotkappchen hie?. (There was once a small girl who was called Little Red Riding Hood.) In speech and informal writing, the Perfekt is used (e.g., Ich habe dies und das gesagt. (I said this and that)). However, in the colloquial language of North Germany, there is still a very important difference between the preterite and the perfect, and both tenses are consequently very common. The preterite is used for past actions when the focus is on the action, whilst the present perfect is used for past actions when the focus is on the present state of the subject as a result of a previous action. This is somewhat similar to the English usage of the preterite and the present perfect. Preterite: "Heute fruh kam mein Freund." (my friend came early in the morning, and he is being talked about strictly in the past) Perfect: "Heute fruh ist mein Freund gekommen." (my friend came early in the morning, but he is being talked about in the present) [edit]Dutch Dutch mainly uses these two past tenses: onvoltooid verleden tijd, which matches the English simple past and the German preterite, for example: Gisteren was ik daar ("I was there yesterday"). voltooid tegenwoordige tijd, a present tense with the meaning of perfect. This form is made by combining a form of zijn ("to be") or hebben ("to have") with the notional verb, for example: Gisteren ben ik daar geweest. This also means "I was there yesterday", but just as it is the case for English constructions with the present perfect simple, this kind of formulation puts more emphasis on the "being finished"-aspect. Less common is the voltooid verleden tijd, which corresponds to the English past perfect. It is formed by combining an onvoltooid verleden form of zijn ("to be") or hebben ("to have") with the notional verb, for example: Ik was daar voor gisteren al geweest. This means "I had been there before yesterday." This tense is used to indicate that one action in the past occurred before another past action, and that the action was fully finished before the second action took place. [edit]Non-Germanic Indo-European languages In non-Germanic Indo-European languages, past marking is typically combined with a distinction between perfective and imperfective aspect, with the former reserved for single completed actions in the past. French for instance, has an imperfect tense form similar to that of German but used only for past habitual or past progressive contexts like "I used to..." or "I was doing...". Similar patterns extend across most languages of the Indo-European family right through to the Indic languages. Unlike other Indo-European languages, in Slavic languages tense is independent of aspect, with imperfective and perfective aspects being indicated instead by means of prefixes, stem changes, or suppletion. In many West Slavic and East Slavic languages, the early Slavic past tenses have largely merged into a single past tense. In both West and East Slavic, verbs in the past tense are conjugated for gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and number (singular, plural). [edit]French French has numerous forms of the past tense including but not limited to: Past perfective (passe compose) e.g. J'ai mange (I ate, using the form but not the meaning of I have eaten) Past imperfective (imparfait) e.g. Je mangeais (I was eating) Past historic or Simple past (passe simple) e.g. Je mangeai (I ate) (literary only) Pluperfect (Plus que parfait) e.g. J'avais mange (I had eaten [before another event in the past]) Recent past (passe recent) e.g. Je viens de manger (I just ate)