Past Simple: Signal words describing frequency in the past

Past Simple with signal words describing frequency in the past

Primarily for habitual actions:

She usually went to the movies across the street

They sometimes showed a good movie

We can use other means to show that an action happened regularly, but this is a completely another course (used to / would).

Watch out if you use the words describing marginal frequencies like always or never, We can use Present Perfect here, of course when there are no indicators of the past period of time:

I have always liked him (and I like him now)

I always liked him (it is not clear if I like him now)

Pete has never done that (up until now)

Pete never did that. (when talking about past events at some point in time in the past, who knows if he did that or not after that)

In a nutshell:

Signal words like usually, sometimes, often, and rarely, many teachers explain them as signal words for Present Simple. That is why students are confused. We can use these words with Past Simple and in other tenses and constructions.

Back to: Past Simple Tense

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