Grammar | Past Simple and Past Progressive

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What is this episode about?

Learn how to use the past simple and the past progressive to convey the meaning you have in mind in a clear and correct way in English in this new Grammar episode from English Plus Podcast.

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Show Notes

Disclaimer

I am using an automatic transcript service as it is not possible for me to do it on my own and I cannot afford human transcription at the moment. The service claims to have about 95% accuracy, which means there will still be some mistakes, so my apologies for having a less than perfect transcript, but I hope I can afford human transcription soon and I will solve this problem. However, the service is pretty good, and the transcript is almost perfect.

Transcript

Welcome to a new episode from English plus podcast today’s episode, we will talk about grammar and we will focus on the past simple and the best continuous. So today it is going to be about how to talk about the past. And of course the focus will be on the past simple and the past continuous. So without further ado, Let’s start talking right away and let’s start with the past simple tense.

[00:00:32] Now, for example, we can say it snowed yesterday or Tom watched TV last night. Why do we use the best simple here? Because at one particular time in the past, this happened, it began and ended in the past. And most past simple verbs add ed. Like when we say it snowed, we add ed to snow and Tom watched ed, we added to watch, but some verbs have irregular past tense forms.

[00:01:03] For example, if we say Jack went to work early, now went is the past of go. Or I came to work late and that is the past of come it’s came. Or we saw a great movie last night. And that is the past of see, the past of C is saw. So these verbs are irregular verbs and of course, There is no point in listing all the irregular verbs in one episode, because, because there are a lot of lists that you can find, and I will make sure to include one of these lists in the show notes.

[00:01:38] In this link, you will find in the description of this episode, you can go to our website, English plus podcast.com. You will find the exercises you need, and I will include a list of all the irregular verbs. Anyway, we talked about the best simple we use it. When we talk about something that happened.

[00:01:54] Began and ended in the past. And we talked about the past simple in terms of regular and irregular verbs. And although I said, I’m not going to mention all the irregular verbs, but I have to mention the past simple avert to beat since it’s one of the most famous verbs in English and the past simple verb to be is special because it has two forms in the past.

[00:02:16] Instead of one, it is irregular obviously, but it has two forms instead of one. So while verb to be is M is, are in the present in the past, it is, was, or work we use was with I, he, she it, and we use we’re with we, you and they. Now one thing you have to pay attention to before we move on and talk about the form of the past.

[00:02:39] Simple is the sequence of tenses. Now, when we have a series of actions, we usually use the same tense. I’ll give you an example. Maybe we’re talking about Andrew, who is a ballplayer. So Andrew caught the ball, ran down the field and scored a point. So here we said caught. Ran and scored. Now, all of these verbs are in the past simple.

[00:03:05] Now, when you have a series of actions like this, make sure the verbs are the same tense. For example, you can say Andrew caught the ball is running down the field and score a point. So we use past simple present, continuous and present simple. It doesn’t work this way. Well, I have to say that. Yes.

[00:03:24] Sometimes we do that. And sometimes you may hear of that, but as a general rule of thumb, you have to keep in mind that keep your tenses, especially in sequence in series of actions, keep the same tense. Now that being said, let’s move on to talk about the regular verb forms. Now, when we talk about affirmative.

[00:03:46] Of course, we said that we add ed and fortunately most verbs are regular. So most verbs will take an ed. Like when we say help. Becomes helped ed and the good news that it’s not the same, like the present simple, where we have to add an S for his sheet. No, it’s the same for all the pronouns. So I, you, he, she, it, we, they helped it’s the same.

[00:04:10] It doesn’t change, but of course you have to pay attention when you turn that into negative and questions. Now, when you turn that into negative or questions, Of course instead of using do or does, like we do in the present simple we use did, because we’re talking about the past simple here, but make sure to return the verb to its original form, the main verb I’m talking about.

[00:04:33] So for example, I say I did not that’s negative. I did not help without ed. And that is a common mistake that people use did four negatives or four questions and they keep the ed with the main verb. Because it is an easy mistake to make, to be honest, don’t feel terrible if you make that mistake, everyone makes this mistake, but I just want you to pay attention to it.

[00:04:57] Yes. In the negative we use did not. We say I did not. She did not. We did not et cetera, but make sure to put the verb back in its original form. So I did not help or she did not help, et cetera. And when we want to create a question we use did, and of course we put it first. So we say, did I, did you, did he, did she, did we, did they et cetera, help again, make sure you use help or any other verb for that matter in its original form.

[00:05:31] Don’t add anything to it. So did I help, did you help without ed? Now the same goes, of course, for irregular verb forms, but irregular verb forms, as I told you, irregular verbs do not have a rule at all. So I can tell you, for example, if you find a EA in the verb, it is going to be a T like eight and eight.

[00:05:51] There, there is no rules, simply no rule. You will have to look at the chart, the irregular verb chart, and learn about them. Of course, you don’t have to read them all and memorize them all, but check the list now and then, and learn a couple every time. And you will add to your irregular verb arsenal, and then eventually you will learn all of them.

[00:06:11] But as we said about regular verbs, we add ed in affirmative. The same goes for irregular verbs, of course, without ed. But for example, we say , we ate, they ate and that’s the best of eat. Of course, as I told you earlier, Fortunately, we don’t have a special S four. He, she, it like we do in the present simple.

[00:06:34] And when we want to say that in negative, it’s the same thing we use did not. And we put the verb back in its original form, and that’s very important. And here people make the most mistakes because it is natural now. Or especially after you use irregular verbs for a while. It becomes natural to say eight in the past.

[00:06:55] And you spend a lot of time learning to use eight. The past of eat came the past have come, et cetera. So when you use, I didn’t came. No, it’s not. I didn’t came. I didn’t come. I didn’t eat. Remember when we used it not, we put the main verb back in its original form and it’s very easy to leave it in the past form.

[00:07:18] Just keep that in mind. And as I told you earlier, it’s not a big deal. If you make this mistake, everyone makes this mistake just pay attention. Not to, and in the questions, obviously it’s the same thing. Did I eat? Did you eat? Did he eat, et cetera? Now with verb to be, it’s a different story because verb to be doesn’t need any other helping verbs verb to be doesn’t need do or did to make questions or negatives.

[00:07:43] It can do that on its own. So in the affirmative we say, I, he, she, it was here, but in the negative, I don’t need did. I can say I, he, she, it was not here or wasn’t here. And in questions I say, was I, or was he, or was she here? And the same of course goes for work, which is used for you. We, and they, we say you, we, or they were not here in negative.

[00:08:12] And in questions where you were, we were, they here. So verb to be is proud. It doesn’t need any other verb to help it create negatives or questions. Unlike other ordinary verbs. Okay. So just remember verb to be is enough on its own to create negatives or questions, but of course was, or were not am is R which is the present form.

[00:08:36] So with that being said, let’s move on now to talk about the past simple versus the past progressive or the past continuous. But before we do that, let me remind you that you can find a link in the description of this episode that will take you to our website, English plus podcast.com. There you will find the show notes and exercises you can use to master the points we’re talking about here to practice and master the points we’re talking about here.

[00:09:01] Now we create a myriad of activities. We have interactive activities, interactive videos, and a PDF downloadable worksheet with every single episode. Now, of course we don’t do that for every episode. Just the same way. It depends on the content of the episode. We create interactive videos for some episodes, we create videos for some other episodes, but we have exercises for all the episodes.

[00:09:24] So, for example, for this episode, there is a PDF practice worksheet that you can download and practice with the answer key of course, to check your answers. And there’s one more thing. If you like the content we’re creating here in English plus podcast, you might want to support us and become our patron on Patreon.

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[00:10:01] And I’m going to tell you what the gift is, but you will be surprised. Now with that being said, let’s move back and talk about the simple past and the past progressive. Or as we say the past continuous, it doesn’t matter. It’s the same thing. Some people say the past continuous, some people say the past progressive doesn’t matter.

[00:10:18] What matters is that you understand the difference between the simple past and the past progressive. Now let’s start from what we learned about. The past simple, we said the past simple indicates that an activity or situation began and ended at a particular time in the past. So when I say I walked to school yesterday, John lived in Paris for 10 years, but now he lives in Rome.

[00:10:43] I bought a new car three days ago. All of these actions happened in the past and ended in the past. Or you might want to say, I bought a new car three days ago. That’s not passed. I still have the car. That’s true. You have the car now, but the action of buying the car happened three days ago. You’re not buying the car now.

[00:11:02] You’re not still buying the car. Right? So the focus is on actions that happened in the past and finished in the past. And you might’ve heard before that, when you want to use the past simple with the past continuous you use, when, and you say, for example, I was doing something that’s the past continuous.

[00:11:20] When I did this, that’s the best simple, and I’m not saying that’s wrong, but the problem is, or not the problem. Actually, the thing is. That we can use when, and both parts of the sentence can contain the past simple alone without past continuous. So do not just use the past continuous automatically when you see, when it depends on what you want to say.

[00:11:44] If you just want to say that two things happened. In the past and you just want to show me the sequence of these actions. You want to show me which action happened first. So you can use when and you can use both of them in the past. Simple, for example, Rita stood under a tree when it began to rain. So here, both of them stood is the past of stand began.

[00:12:05] The best of begin. Both of them are past simple. But what does that mean? Why didn’t I use Rita was standing under a tree when it began to rain? Well, I can, of course that is not wrong grammatically, but the meaning is a little bit different. If we have a sentence like this, that contains when and has the simple best in both clauses, the action in the, when clause happens first, if this is what you want to tell me, if what you want to tell me is.

[00:12:31] I want to show you which action happened first. So then use this action that happened first with the wind clause. So here, if we read again, the sentence, Rita stood under a tree when it began to rain. If I ask you what happened first, Did it begin to rain first, then Rita stood under the tree or did Rita stand under the tree?

[00:12:54] Then it began to rain. Obviously the thing that happened first is the thing that is in the one part. So when it began to rain, she stood under the tree, it began to rain first. Then she stood under the tree. Let’s take a look at another example. When Mrs. Chu heard a strange noise, she got up to investigate.

[00:13:15] Now, this one obviously is logical because we know that you first need to hear something so that you get up and investigate. So obviously Mrs. Chu, when Mrs. Chu heard that happened first, she got up to investigate that happen next. Or we can say when I dropped my cup, the coffee spilled on my lap and that is also obvious you drop the cup first.

[00:13:39] And the coffee spilled on my lap. So you might want to say, well, why do I have to use when here at all? Now you can say, I dropped my cup, the coffee spilled on my lap. Well, simply if you want to say it without, when you will use two sentences instead of one, and it’s always a better way to use one sentence instead of two, if you can.

[00:13:59] And here we can, because we can use when to make this possible. Instead of saying I dropped my cup period. The coffee spilled on my lap period. And here. Yeah. Obviously everybody will understand that I dropped my cup first and the coffee spilled on my lap later. Yeah. But why don’t you make that in one sentence using Gwen?

[00:14:19] When I dropped my cup. The coffee spilled on my lap. And when you do that, you can use both parts in the past simple, but you will have to make sure that you use the action that happened first in the first part. Now, sometimes this can be very useful because it can tell you which action happened first, because not always logical, like in the first example, Rita stood under a tree when it began to rain.

[00:14:44] There’s nothing logical that can tell me which happened first, except for, I know that. Because I can see that when it began to rain, when it began to rain. So that means this happened first. There is no logical explanation for that, but when helped me decide which action happened first, or help me know which action happened first.

[00:15:02] So that being said, I just mentioned this before we start talking about the past continuous, especially the wind part, because it is always this problem in the mind of English language learners that they try to seek words. That can show them, which tends to use. Now. It’s not like that guys. The thing is that the English grammar is just a tool for what you want to mean.

[00:15:27] First comes the meaning, whatever you want to say, that’s the first thing that should come to your mind. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it right from the first try, you can learn. It’s easy to learn grammar, but the thing is start with what you want to say. Start with the meaning in mind. And then seek out the tools to make the spinning clear for English language speakers.

[00:15:49] So here we’re learning tools, grammar is just learning tools and your job later is choosing the right tool for the meaning you want to convey. So that being said, Let’s move on now to talk about the past progressive. Now the best progressive is verb to be in the past, of course, and the verb in ING form.

[00:16:10] So I was walking, she was standing, he was playing et cetera, but here the cause we talked about when this might be one of the most common ways we can use the past continuous with the past simple. So let’s start with this first example. I was walking down the street when it began to rain. Now here, if we look at this, I was walking down the street when it began to rain, what was happening first, I was walking down the street and then it began to rain.

[00:16:41] And the thing is that I was walking down the street. That was a continuous action. It was not something that happened in a flash. So here, the idea is. Both action occurred at the same time, but one action began earlier and was in progress when the other action happened or occurred. So I was walking down the street when it began to rain.

[00:17:02] Now the two actions happened at the same time, w the walking part and beginning to rain part. But here, the thing is that I was walking. That action happened earlier, happened before it started to rain. And when it started to rain, this walking action was in progress. Let’s take a look at another example so we can see that more clearly.

[00:17:25] While I was walking down the street, it began to rain. Rita was standing under a tree when it began to rain. So here, if you remember, we said Rita stood under a tree when it began to rain. Now that is the opposite. Rita was standing under a tree when it began to rain. So she didn’t get wet at all because.

[00:17:43] She was standing there and then it began to rain. The standing part happened first, or sometimes we don’t even need when or while we can say at eight o’clock last night I was studying. Now in this example, my studying began before eight o’clock was in progress at that time. And probably continued. It doesn’t matter for how long, but probably it continued.

[00:18:04] But at this specific time, maybe I’m asking you, you know, just, I called you yesterday at eight o’clock. You didn’t pick up. Why? What were you doing? What were you doing? Always. The question is in the best, continuous at that specific time yesterday, what were you doing? Because if I am calling you now and I’m asking about what you are doing now, I can ask you, what are you doing right now?

[00:18:27] Let’s go out somewhere. But yesterday I called you and you didn’t pick up. What were you doing? Well, Oh, at eight o’clock last night I was studying. So my studying began before eight o’clock. Was in progress at that time and probably continued now, one last point about this, I will go back to this when and while, and you might think, okay.

[00:18:49] Yes, I can use the past simple in both parts and I can use the past continuous in one part and then the past simple and the second part, but can I use the past continuous in both parts? That’s the question. Let’s see if we can, or we can. And what does that mean? Sometimes the past progressive is used in both parts of a sentence.

[00:19:07] When two actions are in progress. Simultaneously, for example, while I was studying in one room of our apartment, my roommate was having a party in the other room. So both actions were happening at the same time. Both actions were in progress. So you see, you can use that. And there’s nothing like, Oh my God, that’s a taboo that we don’t use, that we don’t do that.

[00:19:31] There’s almost nothing you can do with grammar. It all depends on what you mean. So I remember that now that we’ve talked about that, I still have one more point before we finish this episode. And that is to talk about unfulfilled intentions. Now this is a common use in the past and we use the past continuous for it.

[00:19:50] So we say, for example, Jack was going to go to the movies last night, but he changed his mind. So he was going to do something well we use was, or we’re going to and verb of course, to talk about past intentions. Usually these are unfunded filled intentions, which means activity someone intended to do, but did not do here.

[00:20:13] Jack was going to go to the movies last night, but he changed his mind. That means Jack was planning to go to the movies. But he did not go. He intended, he had the intention to go to the movies. He wanted to go to the movies, but he did not, for some reason it doesn’t matter, but I’m talking about unfulfilled intentions.

[00:20:33] And we have other ways of expressing unfulfilled intentions. And that is by using blend hope, intent, or think about in the past progressive itself. So we can say, for example, I was planning to go, but I didn’t, or I was hoping to go, but I couldn’t, or I was intending to go, but I didn’t, or I was thinking about going, but I didn’t.

[00:20:55] So I see if you want to talk about unfulfilled intentions, you can use one of these verbs. In the past continuous or you can use was we’re going to any verb you want. Now that being said, that is all I want to talk about concerning the past simple and the past continuous of course, there’s a lot more, but we will talk about that in other episodes to come.

[00:21:16] I want to remind you again, that you can find practice that you can use to cement the information you learned here. In this episode and in other episodes on our website, English plus podcast.com, there’s a custom post. For every episode we create, you will find their show notes, activities, interactive activities, videos, and interactive videos, and a downloadable PDF practice worksheet that you can download for free do and check your answers.

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[00:22:01] And that’ll be a big help for us to continue and to create more of the content you love. With that being said, this is your host, Danny. I want to thank you very much for listening to another episode in English plus podcast hour. We’ll see you next time.

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