Grammar focus


Past simple and Past continuous

We already know about the past simple form:
 InfinitiveAffirmative
Negative
Question
 workworked
didn't work
Did...work? Yes,...did. / No,...didn't.
 see saw didn't see
Did...see?  Yes,...did. / No,...didn't.

We use the past simple to talk about finished events in a finished time period (yesterday, last week, etc.).

We form the past continuous with the past tense of "be" and the "-ing" form of the main verb:
 InfinitiveAffirmative
Negative
Question
Short answer
 workwas/were working
 wasn't/weren't working
 Was/Were...working? Yes,....was/were.
No,...wasn't/weren't.

Use "was" for I/he/she/it, and "were" for you/we/they.

We use the past continuous to talk about an action that was in progress at a particular time:

Example: What were you doing at 8pm? We were watching TV.

We can also use the past continuous with the past simple to show that one action was in progress when something else happened:

Example: We were watching TV when the phone rang.

Exercise 1.
There are several suspects for last night's robbery, including yourself. The policeman asks you about each of the suspects. Answer his questions using the past continuous. Here is the information you need:
 YouMike
Jo
Jane and Martha
Helena
 play tennis
 watch a film at the cinema
 have dinner with girlfriend
 walk in the park
 write a report

What were you doing at 8 p.m. last night? _______________________________.
What was Mike doing? ___________________________________.
What about Jo? Was he with Mike? _________________________________.
What were Jane and Martha doing? _______________________________.
Were you playing tennis with Helena? ______________________.
What was she doing then? _____________________________.

Now check your answers. Did you form the past continuous correctly?


Exercise 2
Put the verbs into the correct form: past simple or past continuous.

I (break) my leg when I (ski).
She (arrive) while we (have dinner).
It (rain) when I (wake up) this morning.
They (not dance) when Sally (arrive), but then they both (want) to dance with her.
He (cook) dinner when the thunderstorm (begin).
The police (stop) him because he (talk) on his mobile phone.

Now check your answers.
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