The simple past tense and the past continuous tense are so often confused ,so I think it's a good idea to revise them together and see how they differ.

In the simple past tense a specific time is used to show when an action began and finished but in the past continuous tense a specific time  only interrupts the action :

 -Last night at 8 PM ,I ate dinner. ( I started eating at 8 PM ).

 - Last night at 8 PM ,I was eating dinner ( I started earlier,and at 8 Pm ,I was in the process of eating dinner ).


We use the past continuous tense :

 1- To talk about  activities that continued for sometime in the past:

      - He was watching TV all evening.

      -They were playing football at 4 PM yesterday.

     - Yesterday at this time, I was reading a book.

   2-An activity was going on when another one took place :

  When or While are used in this case: ( while is always followed by a past continuous clause ):

 - While I was writing the email,the computer suddenly went off.

 -It started to rain while we were having a picnic.

 - I was watching TV when she called.

- He was sleeping last night when someone stole his car.

 - What were you doing when you broke your leg?



 We form the past continuous with : was /were + -ing .

  Negatives and questions :

           -He wasn't paying attention to the lesson .

          - Were they sleeping when I called?

         -  What were you doing at 8 AM yesterday?

         -  Weren't you walking out when the acciedent happened?

 Important :

whenever you think of using the past continuous tense ,ask your self the question:"

Is it important to the sense that this activity went on continuously? Even this activity did go for along time in the past ,is this fact important to the sense??



Change the infinitives in brackets to either the simple past or past continuous tenses :

   1- He   ( spend ) three years in London when he was a young man.

    2- While I ( learn) English I often ( confuse) the tenses.

    3- What (  be) you doing at eight o'clock yesterday evening?

    4- Our team ( win ) the championship last year.

    5-He ( study ) when the light went out.

   6- The doctor said that he ( be ) too sick to go out and that he ( need )  to stay home a couple of days.

   7- When the visitors ( come ) ,he ( read ) the newspaper.

   8- What were you doing when I ( call ) you yesterday morning?

   Thank you for reading

       -  Hala-

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  • Dear my teacher,

    I'm really thank you very much because the lesson and the exercises. They are very useful for all person who want to improve skill in English, and many thank for all your corrects, It's very kind of you.

    I hope you will healthy and happy and give more lessons to help all members in this class can practice together.

    Thanks again and have a great time.

    This is my exercise with all my mistakes.


    Change the infinitives in brackets to either the simple past or past continuous tenses :

       1- He was spending three years in London when he was a young man.

       2- While I was learning English I often confused the tenses.

       3- What were you doing at eight o'clock yesterday evening?

       4- Our team won the championship last year.

       5-He was studying when the light went out.

       6- The doctor said that he was too sick to go out and that he needed  to stay home a couple of days.

       7- When the visitors came ,he was reading the newspaper.

       8- What were you doing when I called you yesterday morning?

    • @ Scarlett:

      Thank you very much for your kind words ,I'm really glad to know that my lessons are clear and helpful to you .Please if you have any question just ask me I'll be glad to answer you !

      Your answers are correct but only:

      1- He spent ....

      Have a nice day dear!


  • Hello!I'm back...happy to see you again :)


    1-He spent......

    2-While I was learning.........confused.....

    3-What were.............

    4-Our team won...

    5- He was styding...

    6-The doctor said that he was......he needed....

    7-When the visitors came....he was reading....

    8- I called....

    • Hello Asma !

      Perfect answers but pay attention to :

      5- studying

      Thank you for sharing !

    • Yes,sorry I got it.

      Thanks teacher Hala :)

  • Quite illustrative Hala. Thanks a lot !

    • Dear Jose-Daniel ,

      Thank you for being here with us in this group .I'm really pleased that you find my discussions illustrative .I tried to make them  clear and simple as I can .

       See you soon!

  • I got my mistake

  • REALLY IMPRESSIVE..............perfect!

  • Don't worry........there are lessons coming up yet!  And your answers are all correct!  I'll be seeing you next time!

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