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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:
We use the past simple tense when the time of the action or event is stated (i.e. He moved here in 1998), when we ask about it (i.e. Where did you buy that handbag?) or when it happened at a definite time, though it is not stated in the sentence, i.e. He missed the train.
We can suggest students that if there is word ?ago? in the clause, then they can usually use the past simple tense.
We use the past continuous tense in the following instances:
- to talk about interrupted past actions
(He phoned when I was having a shower)
- to indicate developing situation in the past
(The waters were rising)
- to indicate that the action started before the time and continued after it;
(I was reading the newspaper at eight o'clock)
- with descriptions (When I saw him he was smiling).
The past continuous tense in most cases requires some time reference, exept when it's used to indicate developing situation.
The past perfect tense is used for activities in the past in relation to other events in the past, i.e. When I arrived at work I realised I hadn't locked the door.
The past perfet continuous tense is used to talk about actions in the past that had been taking place continuously up to another moment in the past, i.e. I had been waiting for him for half an hour when you came.