Past Tense and Past
Transition to College Writing
Simple Past Tense
• Actions, events, states that started and
finished in the past (…ago, last …,
• Regular verbs: -ed
• Irregular verbs: change spelling,
for list of irregular verbs, see
1. Blackboard Course Documents, Verb Tenses, Past Tense folder
2. Grammar Express textbook pages 336 - 337
3. The instructor
Tell your partner – use past
• What did you do yesterday?
• What did you do Friday night?
• Where were you Saturday morning?
• What did you do to celebrate your last birthday?
• When did you move to the U.S.?
• Why did you start taking classes at MiraCosta
• How did you learn to speak English so well?
Past Continuous: Three Uses
• Use 1: Past actions that were in progress at a particular time in
the past; actions that were not yet finished at a past time
8 – 9: had breakfast
9 – 10: finished her
10 – 11: exercised
11 – 12: cooked lunch
12 – 2: shopped
2 – 5: talked to a friend
on the phone
At 8:30, Erika _________________
At 9:15, she ___________________ her
At 10, she _____________________.
At 11:30, she ___________________.
At 1, she ____________________ lunch.
At 3, she ______________ to a friend.
Tell a classmate – use past
continuous verbs: I was _______ing
• Where were you last Thursday at 8 p.m.? What
were you doing?
• What were you doing Friday at 5 p.m.? Where
were you? Who were you with?
• What were you doing Sunday morning at 7
• What were you doing last night at this time?
• What were you doing last week at this time?
• What were you doing last year at this time?
Past Continuous, continued
• Use 2: Two (or more) actions that were in
progress in the past at the same time
• Use while
Sorry, I wasn’t listening to you while you were
While I was reading, he was writing.
Past Continuous, continued
• Use 3: Describe and set the scene; tell
what was happening or in progress when
something else happened or interrupted a
past in-progress action
Meeting a future spouse
Form: Using past and past
• Use past continuous
to say what was in
I was crossing the
• Use simple past for
when the driver ran the
I was sleeping when the telephone rang
and woke me up.
He was driving too fast when he crashed
We were watching the news when the
announcer made a special live report.
I was trying to study when you called.
Do you have a good memory?
Are you a good witness?
• Directions: Look at the following picture
for one minute. Try to remember as many
details as you can, but don’t write
What do you remember?
1. How many people were there?
2. Where were the people?
3. What was hanging from the ceiling?
4. What was the bank robber holding?
5. What was the bank robber wearing?
6. What color was his hair?
7. What was covering the bank robber’s face?
8. Was the bank robber right-handed or left-handed?
9. What was the bank manager doing?
10. What was the bank teller doing?
11. Who was walking into the bank?
12. What time was it?
13. What was under the bank manager’s desk?
Form of Past Continuous
Subject + was / were + verb+ing
Subject + was / were + not + verb+ing
Yes/ No Question:
Was / Were + subject + + verb+ing ?
(WH) + Was / Were + subject + + verb+ing ?
Remember –ing spelling rules?
Verb ending in... How to make the -ING form Examples
(Most verbs) Add -ING
say - saying
go - going
walk - walking
1 vowel + 1 consonant Double the consonant, then add -ING
swim - swimming
hit - hitting
get - getting
1 vowel + 1 consonant + E
Remove E, then add –ING
Change –ie to y, then add -ING
come - coming
lose - losing
live – living
die – dying
tie -- tying
A little practice
1. The telephone (ring) when I (take a shower).
2. I (eat) dinner when you (come) to visit.
3. It (begin) to rain while they (walk) home.
4. We (see) an accident when we (drive) on the freeway.
5. The driver (no pay) attention to the cars in front when he (crash) into
the red convertible.
6. She (chop) onions when she (cut) her finger.
7. They (watch) TV when the electricity (go) out.
8. A: What (you, do) yesterday at 5:00? I tried to call you but no one
B: I didn’t hear the telephone. I (vacuum).
Final Tips …
• Use while for two actions in progress at
the same time in the past:
She was talking while he was driving.
• Use when when telling about sequence of
events (one action that was in progress
that was interrupted by another event in
I was just leaving when you called.
(first action in progress) (interrupting event)
with When and While
• When and while at the front of a sentence, use
When you called, I was watching TV.
While he was washing the clothes, I was doing the
• When and while in the middle of a sentence, no
I was watching TV when you called.
I was doing the dishes while he was washing the
• Practice on textbook pages 42 - 43
• For more practice:
Forming and Using the Past Continuous