Past Simple and Past Continuous Lesson

Past Simple and Past Continuous Lesson (Download)
Class Survey (Download)
Student Worksheet (Download)

We use the past simple to express a completed action in the past that happened at a specific time. Sometime we won’t specify the time but the use of past simple signifies that the action finished at a certain time in the past.

I watched a movie last night.

I read a good book last week.

I ate two sandwiches.

The past simple is also used to express a combination of completed actions in the past. We often use words such as, ‘first’, ‘and then’, ‘after that’, ‘next’, etc..

I went home after school, and then, I had dinner and did my homework.

We can also use the past simple to talk about a period of time in the past that is now finished. For this we often use time expressions such as, ‘for five months’, ‘all day’, for two days’.

I ran for two hours.

I was busy all week.

How long did you watch television for last night?

The past simple can also be used to express things that ‘used to’ happen in the past. We often use adverbs of frequency such as, ‘never’, sometimes’, ‘often’, ‘always’, to express past habits.

When I was a child, I always climbed trees.

When I was young, I often played football.

She played guitar as a teenager.

To form the negative and interrogative of the past simple we use the verb ‘did’. Unlike the affirmative form which uses the past from of the verb, the negative and interrogative forms use the base form of the verb.

I didn’t watch a movie last night.

Did you read a good book last week?

I didn’t eat two sandwiches.


Exercise 1: Have students tell each other about what they did yesterday, using ‘first’, ‘and then’, ‘after that’, ‘next’, etc..

Monitor for errors and assist where needed.


Exercise 2: Have students talk about things they did when they were young. Encourage them to use adverbs of frequency such as, ‘never’, sometimes’, ‘often’, ‘always’, to express past habits.

 Monitor for errors and assist where needed.


 

We use the past continuous to express an ongoing action in the past that was interrupted by another action (often expressed using the past simple. To from the past continuous we use ‘was/were + present participle’.

was/were + present participle

 

Affirmative

I was waiting for the bus.

I was eating dinner.

I was waiting for the bus when a thief stole my wallet.

When the phone rang they weren’t sleeping.

Was he working when the manager came in?

We can also use a time phrase as an interruption for the past continuous.

I was sleeping at 10 pm last night.

This morning I was working on the new project.

Were they playing tennis yesterday evening?


Exercise 3: Have students ask each other past continuous questions, such as, ‘what were you doing at 10 am this morning?’ Encourage students to answer in full past continuous sentences; ‘I was studying at 10 am this morning.’

Monitor for mistakes and correct as needed.


Exercise 4:  Past Simple & past continuous worksheet!

Give each student a copy of the past simple & past continuous worksheet. Have them fill-in the gaps with the correct form of the past simple or past continuous. Go through the answers with the class and correct mistakes where needed.


Exercise 5: Class Survey!

Give each student a copy of the Class Survey. Guide and assist students to write the questions in the correct past simple or past continuous form.

Have students walk around the class asking classmates the questions. Encourage them to ask a different student each question and make a short note of the answer in the ‘Classmate’s name’ section.

When they are finished asking the questions have them write out the full answers in the ‘Answer’ section of the survey.

Monitor and assist as needed.