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Simple Past – Past Progressive

Form

Simple Past Past Progressive

irregular verbs: see 2nd column of irregular verbs

I spoke

regular verbs: verb + ed

I worked

past form of 'be' + ing form of verb
 

I was speaking
you were speaking
he / she / it was speaking
we were speaking
they were speaking

Exceptions
Exceptions when adding 'ed' :
  • when the final letter is e, only add d.

    Example: love - loved

  • after a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled

    Example: admit - admitted

  • final l is always doubled in British English (not in American English)

    Example: travel - travelled

  • after a consonant, final y becomes i. (but: not after a vowel)

    Example: worry - he worried
    but: play - he played

Exceptions when adding 'ing' :
  • silent e is dropped (but: does not apply for -ee)

    Example: come - coming
    but: agree - agreeing

  • after a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled

    Example: sit - sitting

  • final l is always doubled in British English (not in American English)

    Example: travel - travelling

  • final ie becomes y.

    Example: lie - lying

See also explanations on Simple Past and Past Progressive

Use

After another or at the same time?

Do you want to express that the actions in the past happened one after another or at the same time?

Simple Past Past Progressive
after another

She came home, switched on the computer and checked her e-mails.

at the same time

Simon was playing on the computer while his brother was watching TV.

New action or already in progress?

If you want to express that a new action happened in the middle of another action, you need both tenses: Simple Past the new action and Past Progressive for the action already in progress.

Simple Past Past Progressive
new action

My mobile rang (when I was sitting in a meeting.)

action already in progress

While I was sitting in a meeting, (my mobile suddenly rang.)

Only mentioning or emphasising progress?

Do you just want to mention that an action took place in the past (also used for short actions)? Or do you want to put emphasis on the progress, e.g. that an action was taking place at a certain time?

Simple Past Past Progressive

just mentioning

Colin played football yesterday.

emphasising progress

Yesterday at six o'clock, Colin was playing football.

Certain Verbs

The following verbs are usually only used in Simple Past (not in the progressive form).

Signal words

Simple Past Past Progressive
  • first
  • then
  • If-Satz Typ II (If I talked, …)
  • when
  • while
  • as long as

Exercises on Simple Past and Past Progressive

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Changed: 16th Feb 2011 11:10

URL: http://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar/simpas-paspro