Part H. Past Continuous or Simple Past
talk about what they did in the last week. This immediately teaches you the function.
- This tense has two uses:
- to describe actions in the past
I was studying for a test last night.
This time last year, I was rehearsing for a play.
- and to emphasize their continuous nature.
I was working all day.
The wind was blowing all night.
- In the above sentences, the speaker is focused on the length of time and on what happened during that time. This leads us to the question of when duration is important. There may be a hidden, unsaid meaning when using the continuous form. Consider the following:
- I was waiting for you all night. (I was worried, bored, and angry.)
- I was working all day. (I am tired.)
- I was having a great time. (I am not now.)
Write out four sentences to show that duration is important. Remember, your sentence may reveal a concealed (hidden) feeling.
I was watching the children all evening.
I was chatting with my friends all day.
The neighbours were fighting most of the night.
The students were studying for the exam all weekend.
Exercise 6: Complete the passage using the simple past or the past continuous.
Yesterday, I ______ (work) in the library. The sun ______ (shine) through the window. Birds ______ (sing) in the trees. Other students ______ (read) intently. We all ______ (have) important exams the next day. Suddenly, a student ______ (take) a stick from his pocket. He told us that it ______ (be) a magic learning stick. We all ______ (think) that he ______ (joke). He ______ (wave) the stick and ______ (read) aloud from an old book, when there ______ (be) a flash of light. I ______ (feel) different. I ______ (glance) at my book and found that I ______ (remember) everything that it contained. We all ______ (ask) the student how the magic learning stick worked, but he said that it ______ (be) a secret. He ______ (leave) the library and ______ (walk) into the sunlight. We ______ (have) a party and celebrated. Unfortunately, the next day, we ______ (go) to the exam and ______ (remember) nothing.