HomeGrammarGrammar worksheets and testintermediatePast simple vs. past continuous

Past simple vs. past continuous


Introduction

Past simple

We use the past simple to describe:
Past continuous

We use the past continuous: We do not use the past continuous for habits in the past: not "I was taking the bus to school."
Past continuous vs. past simple

We can use the past simple and the past continuous in the same sentence structure with different meanings:

Using "when" and "while" to describe actions that happen at the same time

"when" and past simple

We use "when" with the past simple to describe two actions where one action is the result of another action, or happens immediately after:
"when" with past continuous and past simple

We use "when" with the past continuous and past simple: "while"

We use "while" with the past continuous to describe a continuous action that was in progress at the same time as another action, using either the past simple or past continuous:

Practice

Complete the sentences using the past simple or past continuous form of the verb in brackets:
.
1)
When he was younger, he    his bicycle every day. (ride)

 
2)
He    a mountain when the storm began. (climb)

 
3)
Who    you    to when I saw you last night? (speak)

 
4)
I    in Spain when I    my passport. (travel / lose)

 

Further practice

Complete the sentences with the correct answer from a, b, c or d:
.
1)
She couldn't answer the door while she ____ on the telephone.
 

 

2)
They must have woken up early. They ____ breakfast when I came downstairs.
 

 

3)
"What did you do after you heard the noise?" "I ____ outside the window."
 

 

4)
What ____ when I interrupted you?
 

 

5)
"What time did you leave the house?" "We ____ at 9am."
 

 

6)
When she was younger, she ____ every weekend.
 

 


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