Past Simple vs. Past Continuous ESL Activities and Worksheets

What were you doing when...?

ESL Past Simple vs. Past Continuous Game - Writing and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

This engaging past simple vs. past continuous game helps students practice forming and answering questions with the past simple and past continuous. In two groups, students complete questions on the worksheet in the past simple or past continuous using the verbs in brackets. Next, students pair up with someone from the other group. The students then guess what their partner's answer will be for each question and write their guesses in the chart. After that, the students take it in turns to ask the questions to their partner who answers in the past simple or past continuous, according to the tense of each question. Students write their partner's answers in the chart and put a tick next to each correct guess. The student with the most correct guesses wins the game.
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When and While

ESL When and While Worksheet - Reading and Writing Exercises - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

In this when and while worksheet, students learn and practice three rules associated with using 'when' and 'while' with the past simple and past continuous. Students begin by completing two grammar rules and examples for using the past simple and past continuous with 'when' and 'while'. Students then underline the correct past tenses in a set of sentences using the two rules. Next, students complete a short story with verbs in brackets in their past simple or past continuous forms. After that, students are introduced to another rule for using when and while. The students then indicate whether they can use 'when', 'while' or 'both' as the missing word in each sentence. Finally, students complete sentences with their own ideas using the grammar rules.
When and While Worksheet Preview

Interactive Version - This when and while interactive worksheet helps to teach students three rules for using the past simple and past continuous with 'when' and 'while'.

 

Accidental Inventions

ESL Past Simple and Past Continuous Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Intermediate (B1) - 30 minutes

In this free past simple and past continuous activity, students take on the role of famous inventors and find out about accidental inventions in order to practice the two tenses. Each student takes on the role of a famous inventor, who invented something by accident. The students' task is to find out how the other inventors in their group accidentally created their inventions. To do this, students must ask questions to each inventor in their group to find out what happened. To begin, students fill in the gaps on their inventor card, explaining what happened using the past simple or past continuous form of the verbs in brackets. Students then go around their group asking questions and noting down the answers for each inventor in the chart. When the students have finished, they use the information in the chart and inventions from a box to complete past simple and past continuous sentences, indicating what each invention was, who invented it, and how.
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Alibi

ESL Murder Mystery Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Intermediate (B1) - 30 minutes

In this past simple and past continuous activity, students solve a murder by listening to people talk about what they were doing at particular times in the past and looking for inconsistencies in alibis. Tell the students that between 4:00 and 5:00 on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Smith was murdered and that everyone is a suspect. Each student takes on the role of a murder suspect and is given a card showing their alibi at the time of the murder. The students read their alibi and memorize it. The students' task is to identify the murderer by detecting the inconsistent alibi. The students walk around asking other suspects for their alibis and noting down the information on a worksheet. The first student to identify the murderer by detecting the inconsistent alibi wins.
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Past Simple vs. Past Continuous

ESL Past Simple vs. Past Continuous Worksheet - Reading and Writing Exercises - Intermediate (B1) - 35 minutes

This past simple and past continuous worksheet helps students learn and practice how and when to use the past continuous, in contrast with the past simple. Students start by reading situations and categorizing them based on whether the past simple or past continuous is used. Next, students complete sentences using verbs in brackets in the past simple or past continuous as appropriate for each situation. Students then match past simple and past continuous sentences with the situations in the first exercise. After that, students match timelines with the same situations. The students then write past simple or past continuous sentences corresponding to the timelines using prompts, adding time adverbs, and other information where appropriate.
Past Simple vs Past Continuous Worksheet Preview

Interactive Version - Here is a past simple vs. past continuous interactive worksheet to help students learn how and when to use the past simple, in contrast with the past continuous.

 
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