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Unit 3 past time




 Past Simple: form A



 The Past Simple of regular verbs is formed by adding -ed to the infinitive.

Verbs ending in -e simply add -d.

I checked all the figures. They liked his idea.


 Negatives are formed with did not and the infinitive. This is contracted to

didnt in speech and informal writing.

I didnt go to the meeting.


 Questions are formed with the auxiliary verb did and the infinitive. Short answers to yes/no questions repeat the auxiliary.

A: Did you check the figures?

B: Yes, I did./No, I didnt.


 The verb be is irregular and follows a different pattern. In negatives there is no did. In questions there is no did and the subject and the verb are inverted:


I/he/she/it was late. You/we/they were late.

I/he/she/it wasnt late. You/we/they werent



Was I/he/she/it late?


Were you/we/they late?


 Past Simple: uses B


 We use the Past Simple to describe actions and states in a completed period of time. We know when the action happened, and this may be mentioned or clear from the situation.

American ISP Juno designed an easy-to-use email service and user interface and then outsourced everything else.


 The Past Simple is also used to describe habitual actions in the past.

Every evening we went out and ate in a different restaurant.


 Past Simple: time expressions C


 Time expressions used with the Past Simple include:

at twelve oclock/the end of the year



Ill print the details out for you.

(= print from a computer onto paper)

in the morning/June/1998 / the sixties

on Friday/the second of April

no prepositions last week/yesterday/ago




 Past Continuous: form D


 The Past Continuous is formed with the past of be and the ing form of the main verb. Negatives are formed with the verb be + not. In speech and informal writing we use contractions.

I/he/she/it was working yesterday. You/we/they were working yesterday.

I/he/she/it wasnt working yesterday. You/we/they werent working yesterday.


 Questions are formed by inverting the subject and the auxiliary verb be.

Short answers to yes/no questions repeat the auxiliary. A: Were they working yesterday?

B: Yes, they were./No, they werent.


 Past Continuous: uses E


 The Past Continuous is used to describe a situation in progress in the past.

I was waiting in the departure lounge for more than two hours.


 There can be several situations in progress happening at the same time.

The early 1970s was a time when IBM was beginning to lose its way and many skilled people were leaving to set up their own business. Computing was entering a new age.


 The Past Continuous is used to give information about the background situations. The separate, completed actions that happen during or after this period are in the Past Simple:

I came in to Oracle as it was recovering from the recession of the early

1990s. The business unit I joined had an aging product line that was declining by 30 per cent a year in sales. Within a year we completely turned that unit around.


If we dont mention the background situation then the separate actions are in the Past Simple in the normal way:

When I arrived I registered at reception and went straight to the conference hall.


I need to ring/call the printers up this afternoon.

(= telephone)

 Past Continuous: time expressions F


 We can use when, while or as with the Past Continuous to mean during the time that something was happening:

While Plattner and Dietmar Hopp were developing the first real-time order processing system at SAP, Claus Wellenreuther was writing the financial software.


But if we mean at the time that then we only use when with past simple:

He wasnt very happy when I told him the news.



Exercise 1 (A)

Complete the dialogue using the verbs from the list below in the Past Simple. There is a mixture of affirmative, negative and question forms. There is one negative question.


go take think sell like have (x2) make (x2) be (x2) buy


DALE: Hi, Jill. You (1) .. to the Milan Fashion Show last week, didnt you? (2)

.. you ... a good trip?

JILL: Yes, it was great.

DALE: (3) .. you .. any useful contacts?

JILL: Well, there (4) .. loads of people at the show, and I (5) .. a lot of good contacts but we (6) .. .. nearly as many orders as last year.

DALE: Oh, why was that? (7) .. they .. our new styles?

JILL: No, no, that (8) .. the problem. The shoes (9) .. really well, but we (10)

.. so successful with some of our other products, like handbags, for example, and there (11) .. much more competition this year.

DALE: Who from?

JILL: Well, the Paul Smith stand was really busy.

DALE: Oh, but his clothes are expensive Um, (12) .. people at the show .. our prices were too high?

JILL: Possibly. But we (13) .. .. the authority to lower them at the time.

DALE: Oh, what a shame. So it was a waste of a trip then?

JILL: Well, not exactly I (14) .. this great pair of Prada shoes and this Gucci handbag


Exercise 2 (B, E)

Underline the best situation of the conversations.




What was she doing this morning?



She interviewed/was interviewing candidates for the sale job.



How did Brenda spend her holiday?



Most days she went/was going to the beach.



What happened after you launched the product?




Were trying to sort it out now.

(= organise it, put it right, deal with it)




While we promoted/were promoting it, our main competitor



I didnt see you in the office last week.



No, I worked/was working at home for a few days.



What did Pat do when she saw the artwork?



She called/was calling the designers and said/was saying it wasnt suitable.



Why did Renata take so long to get here?



She said they mended/were mending the road and so the traffic moved/was



moving very slowly.



Exercise 3 (B, E)

Complete the sentences by putting the verbs in brackets into either the Past Simple or Past Continuous. Sometimes the same tense is used twice; sometimes different tenses are used.


1 What .. (eat) when you .. (go) to Paris?

2 While I .. (negotiate) the contract, my boss (phone) me to say that he wanted completely different conditions.

3 The last time something like this .. (happen), she .. (call) a press conference immediately.

4 Anne .. (explain) her proposal when Pedro .. (interrupt) her.

5 We never got chance to interview him. While he .. (investigate) the incident, he

.. (resign).

6 When he .. (finish) reading the article, he .. (give) it to me.

7 Everyone .. (wait) for the meeting to begin when he .. (call) to say that he was stuck in a traffic jam.

8 When I .. (clean) the piece I .. (drop) it by mistake.

9 I .. (find) the missing file while I .. (look) for some other documents.

10 When Tim .. (arrive), we .. (tell) him what had happened.



Hes stressed because hes taken on too much.

(= accepted responsibility for)

Exercise 4 (A)

Complete this article about Vivendi by putting each of the verbs in brackets into the

150 years of history

V ivendi, the French communications group, has a long history going back to 1853. In that Hello! Hello! year the Government (1) .. (create) Compagnie Generale des Eaux. The founders (2) .. (have) two objectives: to irrigate the countryside for farming and to supply water to towns and cities in France.

In 1880 a treaty (3)

.. (give) Generale des

Eaux the right to supply water to Venice, and then Constantinople and Oporto (4) .. (come) soon after. By the time of the centenary celebrations in 1953 Generale des Eaux (5) .. (supply)


water to eight million people in France.

In the 1960s the company (6) .. (begin)

activities in the area of civil construction and (7)

.. (build) a large tower

block in the La Defense business district of Paris.

During the 1980s

Generale des Eaux (8) .. (join) with the Havas media group to create Canal Plus, a pay TV channel. They also (9) .. (take) a controlling stake in the civil engineering giant, SGE. In the 1990s they (10) .. (win) major contracts in the Asia Pacific region and in Latin America.

Jean-Mary Messier

(11) .. (become) CEO

in 1996 and (12) .. (run)


the company along



.. (sell) $5 billion in assets and (14) .. (cut) the workforce by 10 \%. All this (15) .. (mean) that an annual loss of

$600 million (16) .. (turn) into a profit of $320 million. In 1998 he (17)

.. (change) the name of the group to Vivendi and soon after (18) .. (make) a series of partnerships and acquisitions in the telecommunications


Operations in North America (19) .. (grow) very quickly after this and in 2000 Vivendi (20) .. (buy) Seagram to become a truly international media and communications company.


Past Simple.



utilities and

American lines. He (13)




His son will take over the firm when he retires.

(= take control)

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