Harriet: Well, when we were driving home last night, we saw a strange object in the sky.
Mike: As we were coming down the hill into town, it just suddenly appeared in front of us.
We stopped the car and got out.
Harriet: It was a very clear night. The stars were twinkling. Mike: It was a spaceship. It seemed quite big. It had some strange writing on the side.
And a light was flashing on the top. Harriet: As we were watching it, it suddenly flew away and disappeared.
PAST CONTINUOUS PAST SIMPLE
We use the past continuous for an action that we We use the past simple for a complete action in
were in the middle of. the past.
We were driving home. We drove home.
(We were in the middle of our journey.) (We finished our journey.)
A light was flashing. The spaceship flew away.
We do not normally use the past continuous for We also use the past simple (not normally the
states. See Unit 7. continuous) for states. See Unit 7.
not The spaceship was seeming ... The spaceship seemed quite big.
not It was having writing ... It had writing on the side.
not I wasn't knowing ... I didn't know what it was.
B It happened as I was driving
We often use the past continuous and simple together when one (shorter) action comes in the middle of another (longer) one.
As we were driving down the hill, a strange object appeared in the sky.
While Laura was sitting in the garden, it suddenly began to rain.
You drove right past me when I was waiting for the bus.
The appearance of the strange object comes in the middle of the longer action, the drive down the hill. Shorter action: An object appeared.
In the three sentences above, the past continuous comes after as, while or when (As we were driving ...). We can also use when before the past simple.
We were driving down the hill when a strange object appeared in the sky.
David was making lunch when the phone rang.
But we use two past simple verbs for one action after another.
When we saw the spaceship, we stopped the car. (= We saw it and then we stopped.)
C The sun was shining
PAST CONTINUOUS PAST SIMPLE
We often use the past continuous to describe the We use the past simple for actions in a story, background.
The sun was shining. We arrived at the beach.
The stars were twinkling. The aliens landed quietly.
1 Past continuous or simple? (A-B)
David is always having accidents. His girlfriend Melanie is talking about some of the accidents. Write her sentences from these notes. Each sentence has one verb in the past continuous and one in the past simple.
? when / he / carry / a suitcase / he / drop / it / on his foot When he was carrying a suitcase, he dropped it on his foot.
? he / break / his leg / when / he / ski He broke his leg when he was skiing.
1 he / sit down / on a chair / while / I / paint / it
2 as / he / run / for a bus / he / collide / with a lamppost
3 his hair / catch / fire / when / he / cook / chips
4 when / he / hold / a beautiful vase / he / suddenly / drop / it
5 he / sit / in the garden / when / a wasp / sting / him / on the nose
2 Past continuous or simple? (A-B)
Put in the correct form of the verb.
Rita: I hear the lights (►) went (go) out in your flats last night.
Emma: Yes, (►) / was watching (I / watch) a documentary on TV when suddenly
(1) ............................. (we / lose) all the power. But
(2) ..... (it / come) on again after about ten minutes.
Vicky: Rachel (3) (come) down the stairs when the lights
(4) (go) out. She almost (5) . (fall) over.
Daniel: Matthew and I (6) . .......... (play) table tennis at the time.
Andrew: (7) .................... (I / work) on the computer.
(8) (I / lose) a whole hour's work. But this morning
(9) (I/get) up early and (10) (do) it again.
3 Past continuous or simple? (A-C)
Find the second part of each sentence. Put each verb into the correct form.
? Vicky (have) a beautiful dream when she (touch) the wire.
? When Andrew (see) the question, when I (find) a £10 note in it.
1 The train (wait) when the alarm clock (ring).
2 I (read) a library book the crowd (rush) in.
3 Sarah (have) an electric shock he (know) the answer immediately.
4 When the doors (open), they (see) that the sun (shine).
5 When the campers (wake), when we (arrive) at the station.
? Vicky was having a beautiful dream when the alarm clock rang.
? When Andrew saw the question, he knew the answer immediately. 1
Test 2 Past simple and past continuous (Units 8-10)
Put in the past simple of the verbs in brackets.
► The car stopped (stop) at the lights.
1 We .. ... (leave) the cinema before the end of the film.
2 The streets . (be) crowded with people.
3 My grandmother (die) last year.
4 Everyone . (have) a marvellous time.
5 We (not / like) the food they gave us.
6 Claire . ... (go) to Egypt last month.
7 The accident .. (happen) last weekend.
8 It .. (not / be) a very comfortable journey.
9 I (know) that ages ago.
Write a second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first. Use the word in brackets.
► There were lights on the spacecraft, (had) The spacecraft had lights on it.
1 I had my old coat on. (wearing)
2 I was on holiday, and you were on holiday, too. (we)
3 It isn't true that I made a mistake, (didn't)
4 The boys were in the middle of a game of cards, (playing)
5 No one told me about the change of plan, (know)
6 My friend was the winner of the competition, (won)
7 Is it a fact that the Romans built this wall? (did)
Lorna Bright is a long-distance walker. Look at this part of her diary describing a morning's walk along the coast. Write the missing words. Use one word only in each space.
It was a fine day (►) when I started out on the last part of my walk around the coast of Britain. The sun was(l) .. , and a light wind (2) .. blowing from the south-
west. I was pleased that it (3) raining. I knew by now that I
(4) like rain. In fact I (5) it.
I (6) . ... along the cliff top and then down into the lovely little fishing village of
Wellburn, past a cafe where people (7) .. having morning coffee. Three miles past
Wellburn I (8) . down for five minutes and (9) .. a drink.
Now it (10) getting warmer, so I (11) .. off one of my
sweaters. 1(12) stop for long because 1(13) to reach
Seabury by lunch-time. (14) . I finally got there, it (15) ..
just after half past twelve.
Each of these sentences has a mistake in it. Write the correct sentence, The hotel were very quite.
The hotel was very quiet.
1 It was peaceful, and-the birds-were sing.
2 1 washed my hair when the-phone rang.
3 You came to the club last night.
4 It taked ages to ge home.
5 5. We tried to keep quiet because the baby sleeping
6 As I was watching him, the man was suddenly running away.
7 We pass a petrol station two minutes ago.
8 Everything was seeming OK.
9 Where bought you that-bag?
10 When I heard the alarm I was having-the-room immediately.
Complete the sentences. Put in the correct form of each verb. Use the past continuous or past simple. ► When Martin arrived (arrive) home, Anna was talking (talk) to someone on the phone. Martin started (start) to get the tea.
1 I . (lie) in the bath when the phone . (ring). It (stop) after a few rings.
2 I t (be) cold when we .......................... ... (leave) the house that day, and
alight snow .. (fall).
3 Your friend who .. ........................ (come) here the other day ............ . (seem)
very nice. I .. ............... (enjoy) meeting her.
4 When I (see) the man, he................................................. (stand) outside the bank.
He (have) a black baseball cap on.
5 When I . ... (open) the cupboard door, a pile of books (fall) out.
6 I (walk) along the street when I suddenly .. (feel) something hit me in the back. I (not / know) what it was.
We . (go) to London yesterday, but on the way
We .. (hear) about a bomb scare in Oxford Street. So
We (drive) back home straightaway.
8 Something very strange . .. (happen) to me on my way home from work yesterday afternoon. I .. (drive) along the bypass at the time. Suddenly
I . (see) my mother in the seat beside me. But she died three years ago.
11 The present perfect (1)
The present perfect tells us about the past and the present.
The aircraft has landed means that the aircraft is on the ground now.
The present perfect is the present tense of have + a past participle.
I/you/we/they have washed or I/you/we/they've washed he/she/it has washed or he/she/it's washed
I/you/we/they haven't washed have I/you/we/they washed?
he/she/it hasn't washed has he/she/it washed?
Regular past participles end in ed, e.g. washed, landed, finished. We've washed the dishes. Have you opened your letter? The aircraft has landed safely. How many points has Matthew scored? The students haven't finished their exams.