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Past Simple & Continuous

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

PAST SIMPLE

Form:

  • Regular verbs - we add -ed ending to each verb (walk → walked, listen → listened, talk → talked)

  • Irregular verbs - we have to learn them (go → went, do → did, speak → spoke)


Affirmative: subject + verb in the past

I told him the truth. She cooked it alone.

Negative: subject + didn't + verb in the present

I didn't tell him the truth. She didn't cook it alone.

Question: (question word) + did + subject + verb in the present

What did you tell him? Did she cook it alone?


BUT!!!

Be careful about the verb ''be''. It creates questions and negatives alone without using ''did''.


BE → WAS / WERE

The verb ''be''in the past is usually followed by an adjective / an adverbial / an object (a pronoun, a name, a thing etc.)


Affirmative: I was at home yesterday. Our grandparents were happy. It was him.

Negative: It wasn't him. No one was at work last week. My friend wasn't content.

Question: Was it him? Were they satisfied with the results? Why wasn't your friend happy?

Usage:

  • It is used to talk about a completed action or event at a specific time or over a particular time in the past: Our dog ran away yesterday.

  • It is used to talk about repeated actions in the past: He always brought a snack with him.

  • a definite point in time: last week, when I was a child, yesterday, two weeks ago

  • an indefinite point in time: the other day, ages ago, a long time ago

PAST CONTINUOUS

Form:

Affirmative: subject + was/were + verb with -ing

Negative: subject + wasn't /weren't + verb with -ing

Question: (question word) + was/were + subject + verb with -ing


Usage:

  • It cannot be used with stative verbs

  • It is used to talk about a situation or action in progress around a point in time in the past: I was studying in Prague when the war in Ukraine started.

  • It is used to talk about a situation or action in progress that is interrupted by another event: I was crossing a street when a car crashed into a tram.

  • It is used to talk about two situations happening at the same time: While I was working, my children were playing in the garden.

  • It is used with always and forever to talk about repeated actions or behaviour: Our neighbours were always arguing in the evening.

He was forever asking me to go out with him despite the fact that he was dating somebody.


You can practise here:

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