Past simple and past continuous: grammar exercise

October 4, 2013pdf

To talk about two simultaneous short actions we use simple tenses. To talk about a longer background action which was going on when something else happened, we use the past continuous tense. We usually use the past simple tense to refer to the shorter action that interrupted the longer background action.

Complete the following sentences using an appropriate past simple or past continuous tense.

1. When I …………………………. (drive) to work, I ………………………… (see) Peter.

2. When I …………………………… (have a bath), the telephone …………………………. (ring).

3. I ………………………… (sleep) when someone …………………………. (knock) on the door.

4. While she ………………………. (play) games, I ……………………….. (work).

5. As I …………………………… (open) my eyes, I …………………………… (see) a strange sight.

6. James ………………………… (tidy) the lounge while I ………………………….. (cook) supper.

7. While they ………………………… (play) caroms, somebody …………………………. (break) into the house.

8. I ……………………….. (think) of it just when you ………………………….. (open) your mouth.

9. When she ………………………….. (have a bath), the child …………………………. (begin) to cry.

10. She ………………………….. (take) out her pen and ………………………. (start) writing.

Answers

1. When I was driving to work, I saw Peter.

2. When I was having a bath, the telephone rang.

3. I was sleeping when someone knocked on the door.

4. While she was playing games, I was working. (OR While she played games, I worked.)

5. As I opened my eyes, I saw a strange sight.

6. James tidied the lounge while I cooked supper.

7. While they were playing caroms somebody broke into the house.

8. I thought of it just when you opened your mouth.

9. When she was having a bath, the child began to cry.

10. She took out her pen and started writing.

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