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Ficha 9 a past simple versus past continuous

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Colegio Madre Mª Rosa Molas

Unidad 7 Lección 3 (2º ESO)



  1. El past continuous se utiliza para una acción que está en curso en un momento determinado del pasado.

At 8 o´clock last night she was watching TV.

El past simple se utiliza para una acción terminada en un momento determinado del pasado.

He finished his homework at 7 o’clock.

  1. El past continuous se utiliza para dos o más acciones que están ocurriendo simultáneamente al mismo tiempo en el pasado (acciones simultáneas).

They were dancing while he was playing the guitar.

El past simple se utiliza para acción que ocurrieron una detrás de la otra (secuencia de acciones).

He slipped, fell over and broke his ankle.

  1. El past continuous se utiliza para una acción pasada que está en curso cuando otra acción la interrumpe. En past continuous se expresa la acción interrumpida y en past simple se expresa la acción que interrumpe.

He was painting the bedroom when suddenly he fell off the ladder.

  1. El past continuous se utiliza para describir el escenario en el que ocurrieron los hechos de una historia.

We were walking in the woods. I was raining hard...

El past simple se utiliza para acciones pasadas que no volverán a ocurrir.

Shakespeare wrote a lot of plays.

(Shakespeare está muerto. El no escribirá ningún libro más)

OJO! Hay una serie de verbos que no pueden ir en gerundio y por lo tanto sólo se pueden conjugar en past simple: appear (=seem), believe, belong, cost, feel, forget, hate, have (=possess), know, like, love, mean, need, prefer, realise, remember, see, seem, smell, sound, suppose, taste, think, understand, want, etc.
1. Simple Past or Past Continuous.

  1. Sally______________(make) dinner when I arrived.

  2. A: What (you/do) ________________when the accident occurred?

B: I (try) __________________to change a light bulb that I had burnt out.

  1. After I (find)______________ the wallet full of money, I (go)_____________immediately to the police and (turn) ______________it in.

  2. The doctor (say) ___________that Tom (be) _______________too sick to go to work and that he (need) _____________to stay at home for a couple of days.

  3. Sebastian (arrived) _____________at Susan’s house before 9:00 and she wasn’t still there. She (study) _________________at the library for her final examination in French.

  4. Sandy is in the living room watching television. At this time yesterday, she (watch) ________________television. That’s all she ever does!!!

  5. A: I (call) _______________you last night after dinner, but you (be/ not)_____________there. Where were you?

B: I (work) _______________ out at the fitness center.

  1. When I (walk) ___________________into the busy office, the secretary (talk) _____________on the phone with a customer, several clerks (work) _______________busily at their desks, and two managers (discuss) _____________quietly methods to improve customer service.

  2. The Titanic (cross) _____________the Atlantic when it (strike) ___________ an iceberg.

  3. When I entered the bazaar, a couple of merchants (bargain) ___________busily and (try) ________________to sell their goods to naïve tourists.

  4. The firemen (rescue) _______________the old woman who (be) ___________trapped on the third floor of the burning building.

  5. Samantha (live) _______________in Berlin for more than two years. In fact, she (live) ______________there when the Berlin wall came down.

2. Read the sentences. Indicate if the verb tense are mixed up or correct.

  1. While Jane was walking down the street, someone robbed her purse.

  2. While John studied at the university he was getting A’s in every subject.

  3. I was driving to a meeting when my car broke down.

  4. Sarah attended a conference when she was meeting the President.

  5. James was seeing lions while he travelled through the African jungle.

  6. The men were fishing for tuna when they caught a big shark.

  7. The workmen were digging the foundation for the building when they found dinosaur bones.

  8. When I last was seeing Phil he worked for a software company.

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