Past verb forms with present or future meaning

Posted by Manjusha Filed in English Grammar

A past tense does not always have a past meaning. After words like if, unless and supposing, we often use past verb forms with present or future meaning.

It's time

After expressions like it's time, would rather and wish, past forms can have present or future meaning.


Past verb forms are often used to make questions, requests and offers sound less direct and more polite. Common expressions are I wondered, I thought, I hoped, did you want.


The modal verbs could, might, would and should usually have present or future reference.

See also

The simple present tense
The present progressive tense
The present perfect tense
The present perfect progressive tense
Present tenses to talk about the future
The simple past tense
The past progressive tense
The past perfect tense
The past perfect progressive tense
Past verb forms with present or future meaning
The simple future tense
The future progressive tense
The future perfect tense