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Lesson 7: Past Simple - Past Continuous

The Past Simple

Concept and Formation
The Past Simple expresses: 1) Single actions which happened in the past: My Dad bought a new car last month 2) Actions which happened on a regular basis in the past: I played football almost every weekend last year 3) A long continuous action in the past. My aunt worked in the same company for nearly fifty years

Formation Past Simple

To make the Past Simple tense we usually add -ED to the infinitive form: talk - talkED, work - workED, play - playED If the the last letter of the infinitive is E, then we only add -D: save - saveD, move - moveD, live - liveD If the last three letters of the infinitive are: consonant vowel consonant: we must double the last consonant: e.g. shop, shoPed, plan - planNed, prefer - preferRed If a verb has only three letters and ends in -ay, for example: say, then the Past Simple is formed with -AID:

say - sAID, pay - pAID, lay - lAID But many verbs in English have an irregular spelling in the Past Simple. It is necessary to learn them individually, e.g. come came, bring brought, fight fought Questions and negative statements When we make questions and negations in the Past Simple we must use DID:

Did you catch a train to London? No, I didnt catch a train, I caught a bus. DID is the past tense of the auxiliary verb to do.

(Note: When we use DID, normally the verb stays in its infinitive form - without to.)


Lesson 7: Past Simple - Past Continuous

In the Present Simple we add S to form the third person singular, e.g. he/she/it walkS. But in the Simple Past there is no change in the third person singular. It is the same for all the person, singular and plural. It doesn't matter if it is regular or irregular.

The past tense of the verb TO FINISH (a regular verb) I lived, you lived, he lived, she lived, it lived, we lived, you lived, they lived (all the same, no changes)

The past tense of the verb TO GO (an irregular verb) I went, you went, he went, she went, it went, we went, you went, they went(all the persons are the same)

And TO DO I did, you did, he did, she did, it did, we did, you did, they did (no change in the past) To convert an affirmative statement into a question, we must put the auxiliary verb DID before the subject. The form of the principal verb is in the infinitive (without to):

Affirmative Statement I finished You finished He finished She finished It finished We finished You finished They finished

Question Did I finish? Did you finish? Did he finish? Did she finish? Did it finish? Did we finish? Did you finish? Did they finish?


Lesson 7: Past Simple - Past Continuous

To convert an affirmative statement into a negative one, we put DID NOT after the subject and then the infinitive (without to):

Affirmative Statement I ate You broke He chose She drank It got We left You sold They wrote

Negative Statement I did not eat You did not break He did not choose She did not drink It did not get We did not leave You did not sell They did not write

In spoken English, the contraction DIDN'T is usually used.


Lesson 7: Past Simple - Past Continuous

IRREGULAR VERBS The following is a list of the most used irregular verbs:

Present begin build choose cut eat find get hear leave ring sell sit spend teach understand write

Past began built chose cut ate found got heard left rang sold sat spent taught understood wrote

Present break buy come do feel fly give keep lose run send sleep swin tell wear

Past broke bought came did felt flew gave kept lost ran sent slept swam told wore

Present bring catch cost drink fight forget go know make see sing speak take think win

Past brought caught cost drank fought forgot went knew made saw sang spoke took thought won

TO BE TO BE is the most used verb in the English language. But it is also the most unusual. This is because it has more changes than any other verb. All verbs in the past tense have only one form. TO BE has two: I was, You were, He was, She was, It was, We were, You were, They were

Question form
The Past Simple of TO BE does not take an auxiliary verb to form questions and negative statements. The question form structure is the same as for the Present form, the verb comes first:

Was I?

Were you?

Was he/she/it?

Were we?

Were you?

Were they?


Lesson 7: Past Simple - Past Continuous

The negative form Negative sentences are formed in the same way in the Past Simple as in the Present Simple. We add NOT or N'T:

I wasNT

You wereNT

He wasNT

She wasNT

It wasNT

We wereNT

They wereNT

NT = not

Past Continuous
Concept and Formation
The Past Continuous tense is formed by combining the past tense of the auxiliary verb BE with the ING form of a main verb. One of the principal uses of the Past Continuous is to express actions that were in progress at a certain moment of time in the past:

She was drinking coffee when I saw her

- when we use the Past Continuous we usually say the time when the action happened: at 10 a.m., in the evening, when I saw her, etc

- for simultaneous continuous actions in the past, we usually connect them with while

Bob was parking the car while Anne was going into the store Anne was cleaning the kitchen while Bob was cutting was the grass

The negative of the Past Continuous is formed by putting not between the verb TO BE and the principal verb: I was not driving fast (or wasnt)

A question is formed in the Past Continuous by putting the corresponding part of the verb be first: Were you driving fast?

Continuous actions and sudden actions in the past

Sometimes an action is in progress and another action happens suddenly. In this case, we use the Past Continuous for the action that was already in progress and the Past Simple for the action that suddenly occurred. We use when to join the two clauses

Bob was parking the car when Anne called him from the kitchen We were playing football when it started to rain