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Differences between these two tenses:

Past Simple

Past Continuous

1) Used to talk about a finished action in the past, often with time expressions like yesterday, last week, a year ago etc.1) Used to express an action in progress at a particular time in the past
2) used when one action happens after another2) to give background information
 3) for an interrupted action in the past
1) We went to Mexico two years ago.1) I was having dinner at 7 o’clock last night
2) When Tom arrived we went to the cinema.2) When I got to the school, the teachers were talking, the children were playing and the phone was ringing.
3) I was cooking when the phone rang.


Remember – we don’t usually use state verbs in continuous tenses. E.g. need, want, love, like, know, understand, hate, remember etc.

created by Tess Giordmaina

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English Grammar – Past Simple and Past Continuous , 4.1 out of 5 based on 8 ratings