Learn English | A new lesson every week
Book your course now

Past Tenses

Average: 3.9 (21 votes)

Look at the tenses in bold then try to match them with their functions.

1) He graduated from university last year. (Past simple)
2) She was walking to work when I saw her. (Past continuous)
3) He had never seen snow until he visited Scotland. (Past perfect)
4) I had been living there for three months before I met Claire. (Past perfect continuous)

Which of these actions:

  1. happened before another past action with emphasis on continuation.
  2. happened at a specific time in the past.
  3. happened before another past action.
  4. was in progress at a certain time in the past.

Answers > >

It is important to look at the time adverbials (linking time words and phrases) as these can help you understand the function (use) the tense has.

Peter had been working for the same company for ten years before he resigned.

They had been looking for a flat for six months before they found the right one.

We were watching a horror film when the lights went out.
While we were watching a horror film the lights went out.

Until last week I hadn’t been to London since 2009.

I was preparing the drinks while Sally was cooking.

Lesson by Tristan

Now choose the correct tense for these sentences:

  • 1 When he ___ (arrive) home he realised that he ___ (leave) the TV on.

  • 2 He ___ (walk) home when he ___ (see) the accident.

  • 3 Tom ___ (already order) before we ___ (arrive) at the restaurant.

  • 4 He ___ (have) a shower when the lights ___ (go) out.

  • 5 They ___ (live) there for fifteen years before they ___ (build) a pool in the garden.

  • 6 Jane ___ (chat) to her friends on line while Tom ___ (watch) the football on TV.

  • 7 I ___ (not have) breakfast this morning because I ___ (wake up) late.

  • 8 She ___ (work) there for thirty years before she ___ (retire).