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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #87720: Spooky story: past simple and past continuous
    > Other English exercises on the same topic: | Past [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - Past simple or present perfect - Past tenses - Past simple (video) - Modal : may/might - Placement test 1 - Past simple or continuous - Adverbs and past tense - Choosing your past tense...
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    Spooky story: past simple and past continuous

    Past Simple or Continuous

    Past simple or past continuous?

    The past simple  is used to talk about finished actions in the past.

    A common mistake students make is to use the past continuous when the action was carried out over a long period of time.

    Look at these two sentences:

    I lived in Rome for twenty years (correct)

    I was living in Rome for twenty years (incorrect)

    The past continuous  is used to describe an action in progress at a specific moment in the past.

    Compare these two questions :

    1- What did you do yesterday? (past simple)

    2- What were you doing at 18.30 yesterday evening? (past continuous)

    The answer to the first question requires the speaker to talk about finished actions:

    I did the shopping in the morning, then I cooked lunch. After that I watched TV for a while. In the evening some friends came over for dinner.

    The answer to the second question requires the speaker to use the past continuous .

    I was laying the table.

    The past continuous tense is also used to describe the background when we are narrating a story.

    It was a lovely morning. Matthew got out of bed and opened his bedroom window. The sun was shining and some birds were chirping in the trees.

    The past continuous  and the past simple are often used together when we talk about an action already in progress while a short action comes in the middle of it.

    Compare these two sentences:

    While I was living in Rome, I met my wife. (a long action and a short action)

    While I was laying the table, my husband was making dessert. (two long simultaneous actions)

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    English exercise "Spooky story: past simple and past continuous" created by anonyme with The test builder.
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    It just before midnight on October 31st last year. Susan Lee home after visiting her sister. The road was clear and she carefully. Suddenly, out of nowhere,a young man out in front of her. He a dark coloured raincoat and carrying a backpack. Susan hard on the brake pedal but it was too late. She out of the car but, to her surprise, there nobody there. While she under the car, she felt a cold wind on her face and a strange presence that shivers down her spine. She was still looking under her car when a lorry behind her. The lorry driver, a middle-aged man, up to her and asked her if she needed help to start her car so she him what had happened. He seem surprised when Susan told him about the young man. 'In October 1978, there a car accident on this road and a hitchhiker was fatally run over. You're not the first to have seen his ghost here', he in a mysterious tone.

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