Past Simple and Continuous ─ Grammar
This is the third episode of a special series of podcasts about grammar in context. In the last podcast we looked at the present continuous and now it’s time for the past simple and continuous. If you have any doubt about the previous podcasts, you can check them again using the links at the end of the post.
Form: Subject + Verb -ed (REGULAR VERBS)
Negative form: Subject + didn’t + Verb
Questions: Did + Subject + Verb
How to pronounce regular verbs in the past:
- If the verb ends with a voiced sound, we pronounce /d/
- If the verb ends with a voiceless sound, we pronounce /t/
- If the verb ends with a /d/ or /t/ sound, we have to add a syllable and pronounce /id/
Uses and examples:
We use past simple to talk about actions that have finished in the past
- What did you do last weekend? Last weekend I swam in the sea.
- What did you do last weekend? Last weekend I rehearsed with my band.
- What did you do yesterday? Yesterday I taught many English classes.
- What did you do yesterday? I took some photographs.
We use past simple to talk about a series of actions in the past
- He got out of the car, walked to her door and rang the bell.
- This morning I got out of bed… and I got in the shower and I made some coffee and woke up the children.
- This morning I got out of bed… and I made the tea and had some toasts.
Who was the Spanish dictator from 1923 to 1930?
- Francisco Franco
- Miguel Primo de Rivera
- Largo Caballero
- Pablo Iglesias
During which 2 centuries did the Catholic Kings rule? 15th /16th
Which South American country included Panama before it was separated? Colombia
Which Carthaginian general used Spain as a base to attack the Romans? Hannibal
Form: Subject + Past form of Be (was/were) + Main Verb -ing
Negative form: Subject + Negative form of the Auxiliary Verb (wasn’t/weren’t) + Main Verb
Question: Was/Were + Subject + Main Verb
Remember “Be” is here the Auxiliary Verb, and has to be conjugated, as in all other continuous (or progressive) tenses
Uses and examples:
We use past continuous to talk about things that happened before and after an action in the past, it is combined with the past simple
- The children were doing their homework when I got home.
- What were you doing when you heard about the brexit vote? I was having my morning cup of tea.
- What were you doing when the Twin Towers were attacked in New York? I was attending class at University, in Massachusetts.
- What were you doing when you received the job offer to come and work here at Taylor School?
- What were you doing when you decided to come over to Spain? We were walking in the Picos de Europa.
- What were you doing when you decided to come over to Spain? I was studying Spanish to become a Spanish teacher in the United States.
We can use the past continuous when we talk about setting a scene
- The other day I was minding my own business when… I noticed a Spanish driver actually using his indicators.
We use past continuous to show that something continued for some time
- My head was hurting.
- The children were screaming.
We also use past continuous to talk about something that happened again and again in the past
- I was studying every day.
- I was eating 20 doughnuts a week.
- I was going to the gym every day.
- I was working 10 hours a day and I was working 6 days a week.
We use past continuous to talk about change or growth
- My Spanish was improving.
- The patient was getting much stronger every day.
Try to answer these questions using the past continuous:
What were you doing this time yesterday?
What did you do this morning?
What did you do last weekend?
What were you doing when you decided to listen to a podcast?
You can check the list of irregular verbs here