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Simple Past vs. Past Continuous In English, there are 4 basic tenses that occur in the past: simple past, past continuous (progressive), past perfect, and past perfect continuous. In this section we discuss the simple past vs. the past continuous. Each one is detailed below. Simple Past – (verb + -ed) if not irregular. Refers to an event that happened sometime in the past. This event could have happened 5 minutes ago, 5 days ago, 5 years ago, etc. Past Present Future Examples of Simple Past He walked to school. The boy went home. Past Continuous – (was or were + verb + -ing) Refers to an event that started in the past and was interrupted by something. Past Present Future Examples of Past Continuous He was walking to school when he fell. The boy was going home when the car blew up. Below is a paragraph that shows you the difference between simple past and past continuous. Both tenses are in bold in order to make it easier for you to see them. The Stupid Cell Phone Once upon a time, there was a student by the name of Sabio. He loved his cell phone; he would send text messages during class and play games on it while the teacher was teaching. However, that all changed one day. One day after school, Sabio decided to walk to school. While he was walking to school, it began to rain. The rain was so bad that Sabio’s cell phone got wet and stopped working. He was angry. He still had to go to class. The cell phone was broken, or was it? During class, the cell phone rang while the teacher was lecturing. Angry, the teacher took Sabio’s cell phone and smashed it! I guess the stupid cell phone worked after all.
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