Past Simple & Past Continuous

The following document is a brief description and a series of exercises for practicing the past simple and the past continuous in order to improve your knowledge of those grammar points.
Marbla Nava Silva 19/05/2011

so I burnt the toast. I used to watch lots of television. *I was making breakfast when the cat knocked over the milk carton. *He had a small cottage in the woods. *I was living in Indooroopilly when it happened. know.) For stative verbs. and the other starts and ends (past simple). For a repeated action in the past. think (believe). To talk about TWO actions in the past. Irregular past simple tense verbs do not end in -ed. *I talked to my uncle yesterday. owe. *He wasn't afraid of ghosts. e. dislike. one continues for a period. *I saw a ghost last Friday. *(We could also say. someone stole my car. The past continuous tense is was / were + the present participle. be. have (own). *I was working on my computer and my children were watching television. These sentences usually use while or when. .g.Past Simple and Past Continuous The past simple is used: For an action that started and ended in the past. which are verbs that do not express an action. *I phoned my girlfriend this morning. To talk about a TEMPORARY activity taking place over a limited time. *While I was talking on the phone. wish. walk walking). both happening over a period. The past continuous tense is used: When talking about TWO actions in the past. *When I was young. *I was staying at my friend's house while my parents were touring Italy.e. *You need to learn irregular past tense verbs. understand. but a state of mind or being. I watched lots of television every day after school. Regular past simple tense verbs end in -ed. (The present participle is the base of a verb + ing i.* *I always gave my mother flowers on her birthday. *I felt sick yesterday morning so I went to the doctor. need.


1. a) did you do b) were you doing 4. a) was sleeping b) slept 2. I had a blast! a) Were you having b) Did you have 9. Hey. a) came b) was coming 7. I ________ to see her twice. ________ a good time in Brazil? Yes. and today I finally ________ it. a) stole b) was stealing 5. I ________ to her a) was talking b) talked 6. a) had b) were having 10. a) bought b) was buying .Activity 1 Choose which verb tense (simple past or past continuous) fits better. How long ________ the flu? a) did you have b) were you having 8. a) was coming b) came 3.I didn't hear you come in. Last month I decided to buy a new car. I ________ . Robin Hood was a character who ________ from the rich and gave to the poor. did you talk to her? Yes. What ________? I was watching TV. We ________ breakfast when she walked into the room. but she wasn't home. I ________ home very late last night.

Why did she buy cream and apples? 3. When did her pets watch her? 4. cream and apples were still on the table.put knives and forks.Activity 2 Read the story and answer the following questions. Mrs. At last it took the steak in its mouth and jumped off the chair. shriek . and she came back into the dining room.louder than scream. but she missed. Answer in complete sentences.. the dog jumped on a chair and looked longingly at the steak. Where did the dog go? 9. When did the dog jump on the chair? 6. She bought a T-bone steak and some cream and apples for an apple pie. Anderson . When she came home from the shops she put her shopping on the table. spilling it all over the tablecloth. Anderson plan? 2. the cat jumped on the table and started drinking the cream.. salt etc. When she saw the cat. 1. When did the dog jump off the chair? 8. overbalance .she had no dinner. plates. Anderson was coming back into the dining room. Anderson threw her broom at the cat. the dog wanted it but knew it couldn’t have it. Anderson didn’t manage to catch the dog. Mrs. her two pets sat underneath it and watched her. just as Mrs. and the cat got such a fright that it jumped a meter into the air. only a dirty tablecloth and a broken window. and broke the window.g.. Anderson screamed. Glossary: set the table . She was a little forgetful so she didn’t realize the steak.. At the same time she overbalanced and put her hand in the cream. Mrs. she shrieked. on the table. She ran after the dog. underneath under it. What did Mrs. What was she doing when the cat jumped on the table? 10. Where did she leave the steak? 5. Anderson do when she saw the cat? . but the dog ran into the garden. A DISASTROUS DINNER Last Friday. get a fright . How did the dog look at the steak? 7. While she was chasing the dog. Mrs.e. What did Mrs. While she was making the pastry. While she was setting the table. Answer these questions about the story. Anderson planned to have a delicious dinner.suddenly (not the same as be frightened). longingly . Then she went to the kitchen to make the pastry for the pie.. and leapt out the lose your balance and fall. Poor Mrs.

he (work. the secretaries (talk)___________________ on the phone with customers. not) ___________________ there. 10. I (study) ___________________ at the library for my final examination in Italian. After I (find) ___________________ the wallet full of money. a clerk (work. but I (be. The doctor (say) ___________________ that Brian (be) _________________ too weak to go to work and that he (need) ___________________ to stay at home for a couple of days. I (call) ___________________ you last night after dinner. also) ___________________ on his computer. A: What (you. immediately)___________________ to the police and (turn) ___________________ it in. When I (walk) ___________________ into the busy office. Now I am never going to find out how the film ends. At this time yesterday. Where were you? B: I (work) ___________________ out at the gym. . Samantha (be) ___________________ in the room when Bob (tell) ___________________ me what happened. busily)___________________ at his desk. That's all he ever does! 6. listen) ___________________ to music. just) ___________________ about you. quietly) ___________________ methods to improve customer service. when the electricity went out. 7. 8. but she didn't hear anything because she (be. 3.Activity 3 Complete the following sentences with the correct form (Past Simple or Past Continuous). but you (be. It's strange that you (call) ___________________ because I (think.V. John is in the living room working on his computer. My best friend (arrive) ___________________ at my house a little before 9:00 pm. 2. and two managers (discuss. 4. do) ___________________ when you heard that noise? B: I (try) ___________________ to change a light bulb that had burnt out. not)___________________ there. I (watch) ___________________ a thriller on T. I (go. 5. 9. 1.

He ____________ his guitar.Activity 4 Find the Past Simple of the following verbs: Work ____________________ Walk ____________________ Talk _____________________ Clean ___________________ Live _____________________ Wash ___________________ come __________________ speak __________________ see ____________________ do _____________________ go _____________________ sing ____________________ Complete what Jenny says using the following verbs in the Past Continuous: Jenny is telling her teacher why she couldn't study for an exam. . Then I went to the living room but my brother Paul _______________________ on the sofa. watch listen sing clean cook play lie It was impossible for me to concentrate! I went to my bedroom and my mother _________________________ the carpet with the vacuum cleaner. After that I decided to go to the kitchen. There. my grandmother _________________________ and she ___________ also ____________________ TV. Finally. I went out to the garden where I found my sister. She __________________ to her Walkman and she ___________________ at the top of her voice.

Activity 5 Write the correct form of the verb. 4) They _________________________ (decide) what to do when Jason _____________________ (suggest) going to the club. 1) Frank _______________ (finish) his lunch and ____________ (ring) his friend Jason. A: No. 3) He ____________ (turn off) the TV when he ____________ (hear) the phone ringing. they ______________________ (not/be). A: I __________________________ (see) Peter and John in the park on Sunday. Although I _______________________ (call) their names. 6) Two other people _______________________(use) their tennis court when they _________________________ (arrive). using the Past Simple or the Past Continuous tense. B: ____________________________ (you/say) hello to them? A. 5) Frank _______________ Jason ____________ (pick up) and _________________ (drive) to the club. They _______________________ (talk) with some girls. B: Maybe they _______________________ (not/notice) you ________________ (be) there Put the verbs in brackets into the Past Continuous or the Past Simple. it ________ (start) to rain so they ______________________ (have) to stop playing. . B: _________________________________ (they/play) football? They always play football on Sundays. they _______________ (not/hear) me. 8) While they __________________________ (play). 2) Jason ____________ (watch) TV when Fran______________ (phone) him. 7) They ______________________ (drink) a soda and ____________________ (eat) a sandwich while they _____________________(wait) to play.

Activity 6 Put the verbs into the correct form (past progressive). in his room. The kids (play) ____________________ in the garden when it suddenly began to rain.the guitar when he came home. his friends 7. Yesterday at six I (prepare) ___________________________ dinner. 5. my friends. . 4. We (not / cycle) ____________ all day. I tried to tell them the truth but they (listen / not) _______________. they (play) ___________________ 2. What (you / do) _______________ yesterday? 9. 3. When I phoned Monopoly. I (practice) ___________________. While Aaron (work) __________ (swim)______________ in the pool. Most of the time we (sit) ________________ in the park. 6. 1. 8.

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