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Past Tense - How to Form

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Here’s the tense the novelist should use, for the past tense describes what took place yesterday and not right now on the beach. Thus, from our novel of purple beach prose above:

Juan looked longingly at Teresa, who looked back with total disinterest as she removed the olive from her Waterford crystal martini glass, popped it in her mouth, turned on a dime, and stalked out of the room.

Poor Juan. Regardless of tense, he always gets shot down.

Every one-word verb in the English language has a one-word past tense. For most verbs (for all persons) you form it by adding ‑ed. Thus, for most verbs, the past tenses and the past participles are the same:

I decided the issue yesterday. (past tense)

I have decided to take a leave of absence. (present-perfect tense using the past participle)

Other verbs are not so friendly and form their past tense in an irregular way. Thus, the past tense of drink is drank, and its past participle is drunk:

I drank the orange juice last night. (past tense drank)

I have drunk too many mugs of strawberry Kool-Aid today. (present-perfect tense using the past participle drunk)

When in doubt about the correct form for past tense and past participle, just look up the verb in the dictionary. You’ll find the past tense listed first, then the past participle, and then the present participle.

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