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Grammar Exercise: Past Simple and Past Continuous

Check out our page on past tenses in English, then try the quiz below!

Grammar notes

1. Use the Past Continuous to:

– describe two events that were happening in the past at the same time. These events usually continue for some time, rather than being quick or finished events (in which case, we would probably use the Past Simple).

– talk about the background to another event (these situations or events were in progress at a particular time in the past)

– talk about temporary situations / events in the past

We often use “while” to introduce background and temporary events.

– make polite requests (“I was hoping to…”, “I was wondering if…”)

2. Use the Past Simple to:

– talk about two finished actions / events in the past

– with all verbs (including “state verbs”)

We often use “when” to introduce finished actions and events.

Past Simple and Past Continuous

Choose the correct answer.