6. Past Simple  -  Past Continuous - Past Perfect

6. Past Simple - Past Continuous - Past Perfect

Sam tells Ella a story.

Main practice:   Past Simple  -  Past Continuous
Revision:              actually  -  though 

Past Continuous:     was/were + ing
a) To describe an action happening at a certain time in the past, i.e.
  • In 2005 I was living in Berlin.
  • At nine last night we were watching TV.

b) The Past Continuous is also used to describe the background to a story, i.e.

  • While I was studying Karen phoned me three times.
  • They were playing football when the storm started.
  • When she was working for the university she began to learn / learning Spanish.

Past Perfect:      had + past participle
We use the Past Perfect to express that one action happened before another in the past, i.e.

  • I had finished the shopping when I met Mary for lunch.
  • When we got to party most people had left.  
  • It was the best movie he'd ever seen.

    *The Past Perfect uses the same time expressions as the Present Perfect, i.e.
  • I had just finished cooking the meal when they arrived.
  • He had already read the book so I gave it to his sister. 
  • She had known him since they were children.
  • He'd worked there for ten years when he became the Director.

cruel -          someone who takes pleasure in causing pain to others

huge -          very big

powerful -    having the power or ability to do something, to influence events or 
                          people, to have authority over others

searching -  looking for something, someone

shortage -    not enough of something
Sam reads a story to Ella, the six-year old niece of her husband, Bill.

Put the verbs into the correct tenses: Past Simple  -  Past Continuous  -  Past Perfect

hint: the past of creep is crept.

Okay, Ella, this is the story of Hansel and Gretel. Once upon a time
a poor wood-cutter  (live) with his wife and two children,
Hansel and Gretel. But their mother died when the children
were young. After a while their father (marry) again but the
stepmother was cruel. When there was a shortage of food she said that
the children * (eat) too much and (take) them deep
into a forest and (leave) them there. Hansel was clever, though,
he had some some breadcrumbs in his pocket and (drop)them
on the way so that they (can) find their way back home. But birds
ate all the crumbs and while they (try) to find their way
home they actually went deeper into the forest. They  (walk)
along a path when they (see) a small house made of chocolate and
sweets. They were very hungry and (start) eating. Now, the house
(belong) to a wicked witch and she quickly (grab)
the chil­dren and (lock) them in a cage. She was going to eat them.
The witch (decide) to eat Hansel first and (begin)
boiling a huge pot of water to cook him in. But Gretel (creep)
out of her cage and (give) the wicked witch a powerful push from
behind and she (fall) into the boiling water, (scream)
once in pain, and then (die). Hansel and Gretel (find)
treasure in the house. They took the treasure and, after searching for a
long time, they (discover) their way back home. Their stepmother
(die) and their father was very happy to see them. 

* were eating would alo be possible here.


Put the verbs into Past Simple or Past Continuous.

Hint: two questions in 2. have two possible answers.

1. She (wait) for the bus when she (see) a car crash.
    She (phone) the emergency services then (go) to see
    if she (can) help.

2. He was one of those politicians who always (insist)
    that global warming wasn't  happening. He
    (think) of retiring from politics when the latest data (make) him
    change his mind and he (campaign) for the rest of his career
    for countries to reduce their carbon output.

3. Conan Doyle (publish) his first Sherlock Holmes story in 1886.
    The character of Sherlock Holmes was (base) on his university teacher,
     Joseph Bell. Conan Doyle was also a keen sportsman and while (live)
     in Southsea he (play) as goal-keeper for Portsmouth Football Club.