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