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sábado, 7 de junho de 2008

Simple Past versus Past Continuous: chega de confusão!

Simple Past X Past Continuous

Form

Simple Past

Past Continuous

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

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 Continuous

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 Continuous for the action already in progress.

Simple Past

Past Continuous

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 emphasizing 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 Continuous

Just mentioning

Colin played football yesterday.

Emphasizing 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 Continuous form).

  • state: be, cost, fit, mean, suit

Example: We were on holiday.

  • possession: belong, have

Example: Sam had a cat.

  • senses: feel, hear, see, smell, taste, touch

Example: He felt the cold.

  • feelings: hate, hope, like, love, prefer, regret, want, wish

Example: Jane loved pizza.

  • brain work: believe, know, think, understand

Example: I did not understand him.

  • introductory clauses for direct speech: answer, ask, reply, say

Example: “I am watching TV”, he said.

Signal words

Simple Past

Past Continuous

  • first
  • then
  • If-clause Type 2 (If I talked, …)
  • when
  • while
  • as long as

Abraços e bom estudo!

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