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Unit 1 – past tenses

It’s easier to understand when we


use the different past tenses if we
compare them.
Let’s look at:
1. The past simple and the past continuous.
2. The past simple, past perfect simple, and past perfect continuous.
3. used to and would.

When and why do we use


them?

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Function: When Is there a specific Has the time

do we use them? time in the past


the girl talks about
or is it a general
period finished or
does it continue
to now?
1. past simple and past continuous past?

Specific It started
time: 2006- and finished
2008 in the past

Which part of the While this continuous


During this time,
Between 2006 and 2008, I statement refers action was in
which of the actions
visited nearly all of the to a repeatable progress, what
in bold was
Hawaiian islands. I was activity? specific event did the
continuous
working at a bank at the throughout? girl do?
time so had a bit of money.
My friends were always
complaining that I was My friends Visited all the
never at home! I was working
were always Hawaiian
in a bank.
complaining… islands
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Function: When
do we use them?
1. past simple and past continuous
She visited the islands This action was in
This period of time This is something that
in the past – it is progress when she
finished in the past happened a lot.
completed. visited the islands

Between 2006 and 2008, I visited nearly all of the Hawaiian islands. I was working at a bank
at the time so had a bit of money. My friends were always complaining that I was never at
home!
past simple past continuous
Completed or finished actions and events in the past. A continuous action or one in progress when other events
occur in the past.
Often used with finished time expressions. Can be an action in progress which is interrupted (so we
don’t know if it continued).
Can also be used with always and forever to emphasise a
repeated action which was irritating.

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Function: Things to consider...
I was working at a bank at the time so had a bit of money.
Notice how this part of the
sentence is in the past simple and
not the past continuous. This is
an example of a state verb (not
an action).

● We do not use state verbs in the continuous structures. They are always in the simple
tenses.
● Some verbs can be state verbs or action verbs depending on the context.
● Example:
I was thinking about Laura when she walked in.
Think here is an action verb. You can imagine the speaker’s brain working.
I think he’s German.
Think here is a state verb meaning the same as believe.

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Function: When do we use them?
2. past perfect simple and past perfect continuous

Look at the three parts of the


girl’s statement. Put them in
order on the timeline below. I realised I had forgotten
my keys when I was already
1. I realized something. performing in the concert.
2. I forgot my keys. Before I left the house, I had
3. I was cleaning the house. been cleaning all day.

Notice how the order of events


affects the tense we use.

3
I left the house.
I was performing in the concert.

2 1

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Function: When do we use them?
2. past perfect simple and past perfect continuous

I realised I had forgotten my keys when I was already


performing in the concert. Before I left the house, I had
been cleaning all day.
Perfect structures always compare two
past perfect simple past perfect continuous different times. E.g. The past perfect
simple and continuous compare a time in
To talk about an action that A continuous action that the past with another time in the past.
occurred before another action in occurred over a period of time up Look...
the past (almost like we look to another specific time in the
back in time). past.

I had been cleaning was an action in progress before the 2nd past action I left the house.

I left the house.


I had been cleaning. I was performing in the concert.

…I had forgotten my keys. I realised…

Here, the speaker is talking about two different times in the past – one further in the past than the other.
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Function: Things to consider...
I realised I had forgotten my keys when I was already
performing in the concert. Before I left the house, I had been
cleaning all day. My house was really dirty, so I cleaned
every room from top to bottom. I even swept under the bed!
Look at the
continuation of the
girl’s statement.

● We do not continue talking in the past perfect simple or continuous after the first
original sentence because the listener now knows what time period the speaker is
referring to.
Her conversation
continues in the past
simple tense.

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Function: When do we use them?
3. used to and would

I used to go to the beach every


weekend when I was a kid. I would
play in the sea all day, so my hair
used to be white blonde, not like
now.

My hair used to be blonde is not an


Is the girl talking about a specific trip
action; it’s a state or a description.
to the beach?
Do we use used to or would?

Used to.

No. Was this something she did a Which two of the phrases
lot? A habit? in bold are actions?
I used to go to
the beach and
Yes. I would play in
Copyright © 2018 by Pearson Education Gold Experience 2nd Edition C1 the sea.
Function: When do we use them?
3. used to and would
I used to go to the beach every weekend when I was a kid. I would play in the sea all day, so my
hair used to be white blonde, not like now.

used to would
To talk about past habitual actions. To talk about past habitual actions.

To talk about past states, which often aren’t true now.

Would can sometimes


Notice how we don’t sound more literary or
generally use would when almost like the speaker
talking about states. enjoys reminiscing about
the past.
How do I use them?
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Form: How do we use them?
Look at this example.
I realised I had forgotten my keys when I was already performing in the concert. Before I left the
house, I had been cleaning all day.

Which auxiliary verbs are


used in the past Past continuous: was/were
continuous, past perfect Past Perfect Simple: had
simple, and past perfect Past Perfect Continuous:
continuous? had been

What auxiliary verb do we


add in the past simple in
the negative or question Did or
form? didn’t

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Form: How do we use them?
subject auxiliary verb(s) main verb complement

past simple I - left the house.


Subject verb in past
+
past continuous I was performing in the concert.
Subject was/were + verb -ing
+
past perfect simple I had forgotten my keys.
Subject had past participle
+ +
past perfect I had been cleaning the house all day.
continuous Subject had + been + verb -ing
All these examples are in
+
the affirmative. Think
about how you would put
these examples in the
negative or interrogative
form.
And used to/would?
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Form: How do we use them?
Look at this example.

I used to go to the beach every weekend, but I didn’t use to stay for long.

What form of the verb The bare


follows used to in the infinitive
affirmative? form

In the negative, what We use use


changes in this structure? to, not used
to.

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Form: How do we use them?
used to

affirmative I used to go to the beach.


Subject + used to + verb infinitive + complement
negative I didn’t use to have blonde hair.
Subject + didn’t + use to + verb inf + complement

interrogative (Where) did you use to go?


Qu. Word + did + subject + use to + verb inf + ?

Notice how we use use to - not used to - in the


negative and interrogative.

would

I would play in the sea all day.


Subject + would + verb infinitive + complement
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Think about pronunciation…
/wəz/
When we speak naturally in connected I was working at a bank.
speech, many auxiliary verbs become /bɪn/
weak because we don’t stress them. I had been cleaning all day.
Weak forms often use the schwa sound /tə/
/ə/. For example, instead of saying I used to go to the beach every weekend.
/wɒz/, we say /wəz/. Look at the weak
forms here and practice saying them.

I had forgotten my keys.


Remember that when speaking we would
usually use contractions.
I’d

I would play in the sea.

Time to practise...

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Practice activities
Use the correct form of the verbs in brackets to complete the gaps. Justify your choices.

used to be (be) obsessed with them. Every time we


My brother hates dogs now, but when we were children, he ……..……..

saw one, he used to/would chase (chase) it and then he used


……..………..…….. to/would cry (cry) if it ran away. But that all changed
…….……..……..

had been playing (play) outside on the street all afternoon when my mother ……….
on his 8th birthday. He ……...……..…….. called (call)

saw (see) it – a big fluffy


was walking (walking) towards the house, he ……..
him to come in for his dinner. As he ….……..……..

started (start) running to it and didn’t


brown Labrador. As usual, he …….... notice (not notice) the 3 tiny puppies behind it.
……....……..

had been living (live) in the park by our house for a few weeks. By the time
The dog didn’t have an owner and ……..…………..

had moved (move) 2 of the babies, but the 3rd was still by its legs. Suddenly,
my brother was next to the dog, it ……..……..

bit (bite) my brother’s leg. My mother ……..……..…..……..


the Labrador turned and …….... had been watching (watch) everything

and ……..……..
had come ( come) to help, so luckily, it only bit him once. He never chased dogs again!

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