Past Verb Forms With Present Or Future Meaning

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.

  • If I had the money now I would buy a car.
  • You look as if you were about to scream.

It’s time

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

  • Ten o’clock – it is time you went home.
  • I wish I was better-looking.


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.

  • I wondered if you were free this evening.
  • I was hoping you could lend me some money.
  • I thought you might like some coffee.
  • Did you want to go now?


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

  • Could you help me?
  • I think it might rain soon.
  • She should be here soon.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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