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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #105501: Two simultaneous actions in the past ...
    > Other English exercises on the same topics: -ing | Past [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - Past simple or present perfect - Past tenses - Past simple (video) - Modal: may/might - Past simple or past continuous - Placement test 1 - Adjectives-ing and ed - FOR and its use
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    Two simultaneous actions in the past ...



    In lesson N° 105198  test, we had studied how to build and use the different preterites : the simple past  and the preterite in - ing. Do not hesitate to revise this lesson if necessary.

    (The simple past is built with a regular verb + ed [or 2d column ] for irregular verbs and is used when a precise action happened in the past.)

    (The preterite in - ing is built with was/were + verb + ing and used to express an action in progress at a given time of the past. The preterite in -ing doesn't admit short forms and 'was/were' are not stressed)

    Now, we're going to progress, taking interest in particular moments when the 2 preterites  are used together or inter-act together : One of these very simple  moments, is the expression of two simultaneous actions of the past. (Two past actions happening at the same time.)

    ex :  He was writing an essay when I arrived and I interrupted him in his work.

    If we look at this sentence carefully, it is clear that the 3 verbs don't have the same values. In English, we have two simple pasts and one preterite in - ing. 

    The two verbs in the simple pasts are describing short completed actions in the past. The preterite in -ing expresses a past and long action which was in progress at the very moment when the other two happened. This past action is like the setting, the background of the short ones. It is the important and 'interesting' action ! The preterite in -ing shows how much the speaker is interested in the action itself, not in its completion.

    ex : The sun was shining when we went out. 

    ex : When their father came back home, the kids were still doing their homework. 


                                          The short action (in the simple past) 'interrupts' the long action (in the preterite in - ing)


    In the following exercise, we'll meet Patrick ! An incident happened to him and could jeopardize his day ... But he'll get help !

    To understand his story, you must choose between the two different preterites, so that the text will finally make sense !   




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    English exercise "Two simultaneous actions in the past ..." created by here4u with The test builder. [More lessons & exercises from here4u]
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    Young Patrick at a café, looking dejected, exhausted, and in a sweat, when I sight of him. The sun as I him. He was scarlet, out of breath, and I could swear I could see tears in his eyes ... His trousers were torn and his knee . He said : 'I while I not to be late for my first day at work ... I my mother for help, to warn her and ask her to come and drive me there, but she an important meeting and couldn't take my call !' He simply wouldn't keep quiet for a minute ...
    He told me : ' A week ago I a relaxing bath, I was so tense because of the long-expected answer about this job, when suddenly the phone at last ! A good thing I had the cordless phone near me ! Finally, I got the job ! And look at me, now, I'll be late for my first day of work ! '
    While he , I his wound and put a neat elastic bandage on it. He would be OK !
    Then, I him to his future office while anxiously. I dropped him at his office just in time ... He rushed without a 'thank you' ! The poor boy was so nervous ! ;0)

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