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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Criminal Sentence 148: Past Tense vs. Past Participle

Overheard from a TV show about fashion:

"My look should have went out the window 20 years ago."

And the speaker should have studied in English class a little more.

What's a past participle? It's the second word in a combination like "have gone" or "was eaten" (here, the past participles are "gone" and "eaten"). It goes with a helping verb, such as "have" or "was."

What is past tense? It's a standalone verb that describes the past, as in "I went out yesterday."

Sometimes the past participle and the past tense are the same, as in "I should have studied" and "Yesterday I studied." Many times, though, they are different.

You're not allowed to combine a past-tense verb with a helping verb, as in "have went." You have to use a past participle with a helping verb: "have gone."

3 comments:

Adriana said...

It´s interesting what you overheard...was it from a native speaker of English? ´cause it sounds as if it were a typical non native learner mistake...

The Sentence Sleuth said...

A native speaker, actually. I do hear this often from native speakers.

Wendeception said...

Hi there,

I'm just curious about the difference between past tense and past participle and how to use it appropriately.

For example:

It is not that I had stopped believing in things I do. I just had to move on.

OR

It is not that I stopped believing in things I do. I just had to move on.

Another example my colleague gave me was

Last Tuesday, it stopped raining. So we went shopping.

Last Tuesday, it had stopped raining so that we could go shopping.

I really appreciate if you can explain the difference of usage to me.