A time to remember
Past tense and used to for habitual actions
Where were you born?
I was born in Argentina.
Were you born in Buenos Aires?
Yes, I was.
No, I wasn’t. I was born in Córdoba.
When did you move to Los Angeles?
I moved here ten years ago. I didn’t
Did you take English classes in
Yes, I did. I took classes for a year.
no, I didn’t. my aunt taught me at home.
We use the past simple of the verb to be
to talk about a past situation.
Ruben was on a Mediterreanean cruise.
His children weren’t with him.
We form the affirmative with was or were.
I was We were
You were You were
He/she/it was They were
His wife was back home in the States.
His two children were too old to go on holiday
We form the negative with wasn´t (was
not) or weren’t (were not).
His wife wasn’t with him.
His children weren’t interested in
We form questions and short answers like
Was he on his own? Yes, he was.
Were his children with him? No, they
We form the past simple of most regular
verbs by adding -ed to the infinitive. It’s
the same for all persons.
look He looked
visit They visited
Manny common verbs are irregular. We don’t form the past
simple with –ed.
He went to a restaurant. (irregular verb go)
There he ate a large paella. (irregular verb eat)
He drank a lot of wine. (irregular verb drink)
To know all the irregular forms look for a list and memorize
We form the negative of the past simple
with didn’t (did not) + infinitive without to.
He liked He didn’t like old churches.
He reached He didn’t reach the ship.
He went He didn’t go with others.
EXERCISE 1. Complete the conversation between a boy and
his girlfriend, using was/wasn’t, were/weren’t.
Rob: Where __________ you last night?
Hannah: I ____________ at home.
Rob: No, you _________. I phoned you and you _________ there. Who
______ you with?
Hannah: I ________ with anybody. I ________ on my own.
Rob: No, you ________. You ________ with Jason.
Hannah: No, I ________!
EXERCISE 2. You are asking a friend about his
holiday. Complete the questions.
“Yes, we liked the food a lot.”
“We arrived back yesterday.”
“We stayed on an island called Naxos.”
How often _______________________?
“It didn’t rain at all.”
“Yes, we hired a Fiat.”
How much Greek __________________?
“We learned a few words.”
Used to refers to something that you regularly did in
the past but don’t do anymore.
I used to be very messy, but now I’m very neat.
Did you use to collect things?
Yes, I used to collect comic books.
No, I didn’t use to collect anything, but now I collect art.
What sports did you use to play?
I never used to play sports, but now I play
We use USED TO + infinitive to talk about
a habit or a regular activity in the past that
doesn´t happen now (or that might or
might not happen now).
I used to smoke, but I don´t now.
My father used to be a professional
Note the question form did I/you/etc. use
to + infinitive.
Did you use to eat frog’s legs when you
lived in France?
Did your parents use criticise you a lot
when you were young?
Note the negative forms didn’t use to or
used not to and never used to + infinitive.
Laura drinks beer now. –Does she? She
didn’t use to/used not to like it. She
never used to drink it.
EXERCISE 1. Oliver Stratton is telling a journalist how
his life has changed. Complete the sentences about his
past with used to.
Example: I live in London now. (Manchester)
I used to live in Manchester.
1.- I’m a professional actor now. (history teacher)
2.- I travel a lot now. (not travel/much)
3.- I often go abroad now. (never go abroad)
4.- I’ve got a lot of friends. (not have/many)
5.- (never like/getting up in the morning) Now I
look forward to each day.
6.- (not like/hard work) Now I enjoy it.
7.- (My old pupils/not be/interested in me) Now
they ask for my autograph!
EXERCISE 2. Neil and Sue are both 30. They are talking
about the time when they were teenagers. Use forms of
used to to complete their conversation.
Sue: My parents were very strict. They never ____________ trust me.
Neil: Didn’t they? What ___________ do?
Sue: Whenever I went out, they __________ ask me where I was going.
Neil: ____________________ let you go out with boys?
Sue: No, they didn’t. All my friends ____________ go with boys. I _________
Neil: ________________ get angry?
Sue: Yes, I did. I __________ have arguments
with them. And I often ________________
speak to them for days.
Neil: My parents were the same. They found
relationships with opposite sex very
embarrasing. They _________________ talk
about them. They ___________ make me feel
guilty if I wanted to go out with a girl. I ________
get very angry with them sometimes.
• Interchange 2 Teacher’s Book by Jack C. Richards, Hull
and Susan Proctor.
• Grammar in Steps by David Bolton and Noel Goodey