Learn English 100% free...Get 1 free lesson per week // Add a new lesson
Log in!

Click here to log in
New account
Millions of accounts created on our sites.
JOIN our free club and learn English now!

  • Home
  • Print
  • Guestbook
  • Report a bug

  • Get a free English lesson every week!
    Click here!

    - Our other sites

    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #128878: Past simple, continuous or perfect
    > Other English exercises on the same topics: -ing | Past | Plu-perfect | Find the correct tense [Change theme]
    > Double-click on words you don't understand.

    Past simple, continuous or perfect

    Read this story. The past simple is highlighted in yellow, the past continuous in blue and the past perfect in green.


    Diana was listening to the children who were playing in the garden, as she took the cake out of the box. She had told them to stay outside.

    She placed the cake on the table and took out some birthday candles.She was laying the table when the doorbell rang.

    She stopped what she was doing and went to the door.Her friend Susan was outside.Her face was red because she had been at the gym.

    Susan followed Diana to the kitchen and sat at the table.She looked at the cake and said, "Chocolate.Lovely.

    It's my favourite".Diana was pleased. She had chosen the flavour a few days before going to the baker's.

    When the doorbell rang she was still wondering if she had made the right choice.




    1.We use past simple to talk about actions in a past event, to say what happened next.


    She took the cake out of the box and placed it on the table.



    2(a).We use past continuous to talk about an action that had begun, but hadn't finished at a time in the past.


    Sara was listening to the children who were playing outside.

    2(b) We often use past simple and past continuous together when a short action comes in the middle of a longer one.


    She was laying the table when the doorbell rang. (She hadn't finished laying the table.This was 'interrupted by the door bell ringing)



    3.We use the past perfect before a past situation.


    She had chosen the flavour. (Her choice was made before she entered the baker's)


    When he got to the cinema the film started. = He was on time.

    When he got to the cinema the film had started = He missed the beginning.



    Twitter Share
    English exercise "Past simple, continuous or perfect" created by ddec with The test builder. [More lessons & exercises from ddec]
    Click here to see the current stats of this English test

    Please log in to save your progress.

    1. 1.The children had eaten when their mother came in. She said 'hello'. (Which action happened first?)

    2. Tom had cooked dinner. The food was ready, but Susan was still laying the table.(Which action wasn't finished?)

    3. Tom and Patrick were laughing and talking to each other when a young boy spoke to them.(Which was the shortest action?)

    4. The manager entered his office, put on his jacket and turned off the computer.(Which action happened first?)

    5. When their mum arrived the children were eating.They had put on their pyjamas.(Which action happened first?)

    6. When Susan had sent the report she went to the office.Her colleague was working on his computer.(Which action is not finished?)

    7. He was standing in the queue and looking at his phone when a message arrived? (Which action is the shortest?)

    8. He tried the sandwich. It didn't taste nice. He had added sauce to it. He added salt. (When did he add the sauce to the sandwich?

    9. At 6 o'clock yesterday, I tidied the bedroom. I had tidied the kitchen. I was tidying the living room.(Which room was tidied second?)

    10. Their father had eaten when he came home. He worked for a few hours. Then he went out for a smoke. (When did the father eat?)

    End of the free exercise to learn English: Past simple, continuous or perfect
    A free English exercise to learn English.
    Other English exercises on the same topics : -ing | Past | Plu-perfect | Find the correct tense | All our lessons and exercises