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Past Simple versus Past Perfect Simple and Past Continuous


Form

        Tense                  Affirmative, question, negative                   Time markers
                          He wrote the letter on Monday.                   yesterday, three years ago,
Past Simple               Did he write the letter on Monday?               last week, in 2001, etc
                          He didn’t write the letter on Monday.
                          They had gone to bed by 10 o’clock.              after, before, when, as soon
Past Perfect              Had they gone to bed by 10 o’clock?              as, until, already, just, by,
Simple                    They hadn’t gone to bed by 10 o’clock.           by the time, etc
                          She was doing her homework at 5.30.              while, when, as, all
Past Continuous           Was she doing her homework at 5.30?              morning, at seven o’clock,
                          She wasn’t doing her homework at 5.30.           yesterday

Usage

We use the Past Simple:
 to describe an action that took place at a specific point in the past.
“They left twenty minutes ago.”

 when we refer to habits or actions that happened often in the past.
“He travelled a lot when he was younger.”

to refer to states that influence the past.
“We lived in that house five years ago.”

to describe actions that happened consecutively, or one after the other in the past.
“She got up, had breakfast and went out.”

We use the Past Perfect:
 to describe an action that happened prior to a specific point in the past. We use the Past Simple
  for the one that happened second.
“By the time I arrived, Jack had already gone to bed.”

to describe an action that happened prior to a specific point in time in the past.
“It was one o’clock in the morning. The guests had gone home.”

 Note: When we refer to 2 successive actions, i.e. when the second action took place immediately after
the first, then we can use the Past Simple for both of them. The meaning is still the same.
“I had locked the door before I left the house.” Or “I locked the door before I left the house.”

We use the Past Continuous:

 to describe an action that was developing at a specific time in the past.
“I was doing my homework at eight o’clock yesterday evening.”

To refer to two or more actions that happened simultaneously in the past.
“ Mum was watching TV while Dad was cooking dinner.”
to describe an action that was interrupted by another in the past. We use the Past Continuous for
  the action that had the longest duration, and the Past Simple for the action of the shortest
  duration, the one that interrupted the first.
“I was sleeping when the phone rang.”
“While she was drying the glasses, she dropped one.”
 “As they were walking in the forest, they saw a deer.”

at the beginning of a story to describe the general atmosphere, the scene, before we start the
  narrative.
“It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining and the birds were singing.”




Exercises:
   A. Read and complete. Use the Past Simple or Past Perfect Simple

                                            The intruder

     When I …………….. (come) home from school that day, I …………….. (realise) that I ……………..
(leave) my keys in my desk. I was about to go back and get them when I ……………..
(see) that the kitchen window was open. Dad …………….. (forget) to close it that
morning. I…………….. (climb) through the window and then I …………….. (see) that the
kitchen was a mess. Someone …………….. (break) into our house! There was mud on the
floor. The burglar …………….. (break) my favourite cup and he …………….. (even/eat)
the chocolate biscuits that Mum …………….. (leave) on the kitchen table for me!
     I was terrified! I …………….. (go) into the living room to call the police and realised
that the “burglar” …………….. (not leave) the house. He …………….. (be) still in our living room, sitting
on the sofa. The burglar was a big, fat cat! I must say, he was the friendliest burglar I ……………..
(ever/see)!


   B. Read and complete. Use the Past Simple, Past Continuous or Past Perfect Simple

                                   Boy’s adventure in Ridley Forest

                                         Yesterday evening, Charles and Martha Wilson …………….. (be)
                             finally reunited with their son, Bobby. By the time the police ……………..
                             (find) five-year old Bobby, he had been wandering around Ridley Forest for
                             four hours.
                             The Wilsons …………….. (have) a picnic when Bobby ……………..
                             (decide) to explore the forest nearby. “By the time we …………….. (realise)
   that he …………….. (not be) with us, he …………….. (already/walk) a very long distance”, said Mr
   Wilson.
      When the police finally found Bobby, he …………….. (lie) under a tree and he …………….. (sleep).
     “Well, I …………….. (be) tired”, said young Bobby. “I …………….. (wait) for Mum to come and get
   me when I …………….. (fall) asleep.”

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Past simple, past perfest and pr perfect

  • 1. Past Simple versus Past Perfect Simple and Past Continuous Form Tense Affirmative, question, negative Time markers He wrote the letter on Monday. yesterday, three years ago, Past Simple Did he write the letter on Monday? last week, in 2001, etc He didn’t write the letter on Monday. They had gone to bed by 10 o’clock. after, before, when, as soon Past Perfect Had they gone to bed by 10 o’clock? as, until, already, just, by, Simple They hadn’t gone to bed by 10 o’clock. by the time, etc She was doing her homework at 5.30. while, when, as, all Past Continuous Was she doing her homework at 5.30? morning, at seven o’clock, She wasn’t doing her homework at 5.30. yesterday Usage We use the Past Simple:  to describe an action that took place at a specific point in the past. “They left twenty minutes ago.”  when we refer to habits or actions that happened often in the past. “He travelled a lot when he was younger.” to refer to states that influence the past. “We lived in that house five years ago.” to describe actions that happened consecutively, or one after the other in the past. “She got up, had breakfast and went out.” We use the Past Perfect:  to describe an action that happened prior to a specific point in the past. We use the Past Simple for the one that happened second. “By the time I arrived, Jack had already gone to bed.” to describe an action that happened prior to a specific point in time in the past. “It was one o’clock in the morning. The guests had gone home.”  Note: When we refer to 2 successive actions, i.e. when the second action took place immediately after the first, then we can use the Past Simple for both of them. The meaning is still the same. “I had locked the door before I left the house.” Or “I locked the door before I left the house.” We use the Past Continuous:  to describe an action that was developing at a specific time in the past. “I was doing my homework at eight o’clock yesterday evening.” To refer to two or more actions that happened simultaneously in the past. “ Mum was watching TV while Dad was cooking dinner.”
  • 2. to describe an action that was interrupted by another in the past. We use the Past Continuous for the action that had the longest duration, and the Past Simple for the action of the shortest duration, the one that interrupted the first. “I was sleeping when the phone rang.” “While she was drying the glasses, she dropped one.” “As they were walking in the forest, they saw a deer.” at the beginning of a story to describe the general atmosphere, the scene, before we start the narrative. “It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining and the birds were singing.” Exercises: A. Read and complete. Use the Past Simple or Past Perfect Simple The intruder When I …………….. (come) home from school that day, I …………….. (realise) that I …………….. (leave) my keys in my desk. I was about to go back and get them when I …………….. (see) that the kitchen window was open. Dad …………….. (forget) to close it that morning. I…………….. (climb) through the window and then I …………….. (see) that the kitchen was a mess. Someone …………….. (break) into our house! There was mud on the floor. The burglar …………….. (break) my favourite cup and he …………….. (even/eat) the chocolate biscuits that Mum …………….. (leave) on the kitchen table for me! I was terrified! I …………….. (go) into the living room to call the police and realised that the “burglar” …………….. (not leave) the house. He …………….. (be) still in our living room, sitting on the sofa. The burglar was a big, fat cat! I must say, he was the friendliest burglar I …………….. (ever/see)! B. Read and complete. Use the Past Simple, Past Continuous or Past Perfect Simple Boy’s adventure in Ridley Forest Yesterday evening, Charles and Martha Wilson …………….. (be) finally reunited with their son, Bobby. By the time the police …………….. (find) five-year old Bobby, he had been wandering around Ridley Forest for four hours. The Wilsons …………….. (have) a picnic when Bobby …………….. (decide) to explore the forest nearby. “By the time we …………….. (realise) that he …………….. (not be) with us, he …………….. (already/walk) a very long distance”, said Mr Wilson. When the police finally found Bobby, he …………….. (lie) under a tree and he …………….. (sleep). “Well, I …………….. (be) tired”, said young Bobby. “I …………….. (wait) for Mum to come and get me when I …………….. (fall) asleep.”