past tense

noun
|Updated on: 2 Aug 2018

Definition of past tense

: a verb tense expressing action or state in or as if in the past:
a : a verb tense expressive of elapsed time (such as wrote in "on arriving I wrote a letter")
b : a verb tense expressing action or state in progress or continuance or habitually done or customarily occurring at a past time (such as was writing in "I was writing while he dictated" or loved in "their sons loved fishing")

Recent Examples of past tense from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'past tense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of past tense

1729

in the meaning defined above

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PAST TENSE Defined for English Language Learners

past tense

Definition of past tense for English Language Learners

  • grammar : a verb tense that is used to refer to the past


PAST TENSE Defined for Kids

past tense

noun

Definition of past tense for Students

: a verb tense used to express an action or state having already taken place or existed
  • The past tense of the verb “run” is “ran.”

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