past tense

past tense
Three noteworthy special uses of the past tense of verbs are:
1. A continued action or state in indirect speech can be expressed either by the past or by the present: Did you say you had [or have] a house to let? / How did you find out that I was [or am] the owner?
2. A past is used in forms of enquiry about another's wish or attitude: Did [or do] you want to come in? (The time reference arguably differs here according to the tense: either ‘Did you want to come in a moment ago, when you knocked?’ or ‘You knocked, so do you now want to come in?)
3. The hypothetical past tense is used in sentences of the type It's time we left for the station, and in unfulfilled conditions of the type If you tried harder, you'd probably succeed.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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