A Song with Past Simple Tense & Past Continuous Tense

* First, let’s look at the form (conjugation / spelling) of English verbs. They follow very simple patterns. English verb forms are much easier than many European languages like Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and German. The Turkish language also has many more verb forms than English. 

There are patterns in every language which, if you can see, make it so much easier to learn a new language than you think. If you can read this post, you are ready to see and understand the patterns in English verbs. Congratulations! Read on!


Patterns are Everywhere!


PATTERNS in English verbs:

Regular verb  TO WAIT: wait, waits, waited, waiting – only 4 forms!

• ALL regular verbs have the same 4 forms.


Semi-regular verb TO CRY: cry, cries, cried, crying – only 4 forms!

• ALL semi-regular verbs ending in consonant + y have the same 4 forms.

Semi-regular verb TO FADE: fade, fades, faded, fading – only 4 forms!

• ALL semi-regular verbs ending in consonant + e have the same 4 forms.


Irregular verb TO KNOW: know, knows, knew, known, knowing – only 5 forms!

• ALL irregular verbs have at most 5 forms. Some have fewer:

For example, TO MEET: meet, meets, met, meeting 4 forms.

For example, TO CUT: cut, cuts, cutting – only 3 forms!


Of course, there is  an exception:   the verb TO BE.

English is no different. The verb TO BE is an exception in many languages.

Irregular verb TO BE: be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being8 forms. However, there is some good news: this is the only verb with more than 5 forms.



Irregular verbs are often the same verbs in every language: BE, HAVE, DO, GO etc. This is because they are the old, original verbs that everyone used hundreds or thousands of   years ago and the spelling has not changed very much. Verbs like to type, to email, to text, to skype, are not irregular, are they? The good news is that all new verbs will be regular. The number of irregular verbs is limited. Once you learn them, that’s it. Also, even irregular verbs follow patterns. Every other verb is regular – only 4 forms. Easy peasy! All English verbs, regular and irregular use the same auxiliary verbs.

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* Next, let’s look at the form (spelling) of Past Simple and Past Continuous:

Past SimpleRegular verbs end in ‘ed’.  

  Base infinitive + ed: Romeo talked to Juliet’s dad.

All Past Simple verbs, regular and irregular:
     Did + not + Base infinitive: Juliet did not know what to think.
   Did + Base infinitive: Did Juliet meet Romeo in town?


Past Continuous verbs all end in ‘ing’.  They all need an auxiliary verb (to make a complete verb) depending on the person: was for I, he, she, and it; were for you, we, and they.

+    Was / were + Base infinitive + ing: Juliet was crying on the staircase.
      Was / were + not + Base infinitive + ing: They were not waiting for permission.
?     Was / were + Base infinitive + ing: What was she waiting for?

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* Finally, read my earlier post on Past Simple Tense & Past Continuous Tense.

It’s always useful to find a song that features the grammar that you are trying to understand and remember. The song Love Story by Taylor Swift is, as the name suggests, a story and like many stories, it uses a variety of tenses: past, present, and future. For this post, I’m going to focus on the use of Past Simple Tense (red) and Past Continuous Tense (green) in the song.

The story starts in the present when Juliet has a ‘flashback‘ and remembers how it all began:                                                                              http://wilsona2mediabchs.blogspot.com/2016/10/intertextuality-analysis-taylor-swift.html

 I close my eyes and the flashback starts:       
I’m standing there on a balcony in summer air.
See the lights, see the party, the ball gowns,
See you make your way through the crowd,
And say hello

The tense changes to the past and the events of the day when she fell in love with her Romeo:   

 Little did I know that you were Romeo.
You were throwing pebbles
And my daddy said “Stay away from Juliet”,
And I was crying on the staircase
Begging you “Please, don’t go”.


I was crying on the staircase, begging you “Please don’t go”.

 Past Continuous Tense is the logical tense to use when you want to describe actions or states which were in progress (continuing, happening) at the same time as something else or during a specific time in the past.

When Juliet’s daddy told Romeo to stay away from her, (at the same time):

Juliet was standing on the staircase.

Romeo was throwing pebbles

When the above photo of Juliet was taken, (at a specific time):

Juliet was crying.

Juliet was begging Romeo not to go.

On the outskirts of town

 I got tired of waiting,
Wondering if you were ever coming around.
My faith in you was fading
When I met you on the outskirts of town.

At the same time as her faith in him was fading: 

 Romeo surprised her when he met her on the outskirts of town.

Past Continuous Tense describes real life. Life does not happen one action after another; there are always multiple things going on at the same time. We need the correct language to accurately connect and report all this activity. 

If we just use Past Simple Tense, we just have a series of photos.

If we use Past Simple Tense and Past Continuous Tense, we have a movie! Watch the video below and see what I mean. Click here for the video with lyrics.

For practice exercises, click here.

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This entry was posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Song with Past Simple Tense & Past Continuous Tense

  1. Pingback: A Song with Past Simple Tense & Past Continuous Tense — Mary’s English Blog – "Teacher Joseph", English Teacher & Voice Coach

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