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 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.


TO BE or not TO BE                                        Photo by Carmen Peñaranda on Unsplash.com

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. 

For practice exercises, click here.

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Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Videos | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Look up an English word; learn it forever.

I have found a wonderful website that will help you remember vocabulary! 

(I wish there were similar websites in French and Italian for me. Alas!) 

I could write a lot of detail here but it would be quicker for you to go straight to the website and see for yourself.  Click here to meet your new vocabulary friend.

Α – Ω   Α – Ω   Α – Ω   Α – Ω   Α – Ω   Α – Ω   Α – Ω  

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary, Writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

How to speak so that people want to listen

Would you like to be able to speak so that people want to listen to what you have to say? Would you like to feel more confident when you have something important to say?

If you have a spare ten minutes, listen to Julian Treasure on TED Talks explaining how to improve the way you speak. Julian points out not only how to fine-tune what you are saying but how you say it. He also provides easy warm-up voice exercises to help you prepare for an important speech and sound your best. Julian speaks very clearly. However, click on the subtitles if necessary.

Click here to see the video. 

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Speaking & Pronunciation, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How to Say Thank You in Business English: 20 Phrases for Any Situation

FluentU Business English Blog


How to Say Thank You in Business English: 20 Phrases for Any Situation

A helping hand from a business partner.

complaint from your customer.

An invitation to a global conference.

What do these have in common?

That’s right!

They’re all situations that could use a note of thanks.

According to Chron, when you send a thank-you note to someone, it shows that you value your business relationship with them.

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

Improve your English with Poetry

On June 30, 2018, I published a post: A Song with Dynamic Adjectives. I wanted to show you how effective a clever choice of English adjectives can be. I chose The logical Song by Supertramp

Awesome song-writers are really awesome poets. They can express a wealth of emotion, drama, and life experience in just a few verses. Music adds a further dimension. The Logical Song is an excellent example. The language is so ‘dynamic’, it almost jumps off the page! 

Today, to give you another example of beautiful English expression, I would like to share a classic poem with you. Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden is very different from The Logical Song. The language is very simple but powerful. In just sixteen lines, the poet perfectly describes the grief felt by the death of a loved one. 

Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden is a masterpiece.  The complete poem is included below. To fully appreciate poetry, it is best heard read aloud. I first heard this poem in the film, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and I won’t forget how it made me feel. It was brilliantly recited by the Scottish actor John Hannah. 

Click on the picture below to listen to the poem Funeral Blues recited by  John Hannah in the movie video, subtitles included. 

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks; cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin; let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves;
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one.
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ 

Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Are you ready for a job interview in English?  Not sure?  Well, help is at hand!  Read on:

TALKENGLISH.COM has an extensive selection of lessons to help you to equip yourself for a job interview,  from basic to more in-depth questions.  Questions, answers, and explanations are provided.

These lessons are all available for self-study and they include short audios  to help you with pronunciation and speaking confidence. Give yourself enough time to practise. Ask a friend to help with a role-play. Click on the picture below to start your preparation! Good luck!


Are you ready for your Interview? 

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Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A Song with Dynamic Adjectives

I recently used a song, The Logical Song by Supertramp, in my Intermediate Level English class to highlight excellent English expression and in particular an impressive use of Adjectives. Individually, the adjectives are all wonderfully descriptive, but read the song lyrics and just see what happens to them when they are woven together into a story….. Magic!!

The Logical Song is about the biggest question of all: the meaning of life.

Roger Hodgson, songwriter: “The song was born out of my questions about what really mattered in life. Throughout childhood we’re taught how to behave, yet we‘re very rarely told anything about the deeper purpose of life. We go from the innocence and wonder of childhood to the confusion of adolescence, and that often ends up in disillusionment in adulthood. And many of us spend our lives trying to get back to that innocence.”

The Logical Song  by  Supertramp

When I was young,
it seemed that life was so wonderfula miracle; oh it was beautiful, magical

And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily, oh joyfully, playfully watching me.

But then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical,
responsible, practical 
and they showed me a world where I could be so dependableclinical, oh intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the world’s asleep, the questions run too deep for such a simple man.

Won’t you please, please
tell me what we’ve learned?
I know it sounds absurd.  Please tell me who I am.

I said, watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a *radical, a *liberal, oh  fanatical  *criminal.
Won’t you sign up your name?
We’d like to feel you’re acceptable, r
espectable, presentable, a vegetable!

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* Radical, liberal, and criminal can be nouns or adjectives. They are used as nouns here. Did you notice the colourful adverbs: happily, joyfully, and playfully describing how the birds were singing and watching?

Click here for the YouTube video. Incidentally, the music is phenomenal! I hope you enjoy the music as well as the lyrics.

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Posted in Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Videos, Vocabulary, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What are the most valuable things everyone should know?

What are the most valuable things everyone should know?

Jordan B Peterson, 25 years as a consultant, clinical psychologist and professor

Tell the truth. 
Do not do things that you hate. 
Act so that you can tell the truth about how you act. 
Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient.
If you have to choose, be the one who does things, instead of the one who is seen to do things.
Pay attention.
Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you need to know. Listen to them hard enough so that they will share it with you.
Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationships. 
Be careful who you share good news with.
Be careful who you share bad news with.

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Intermediate (Level 4), Reading, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

18 English Words That Are Actually Hindi

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Posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Vocabulary | Tagged | Leave a comment

It was a long long time ago – English Conversation

Here is a lovely lesson from the website ‘Vocabulary in Chunks’. Watch and listen to children having conversations with a 101-year-old woman. Then, check out the vocabulary chunks. Enjoy!

Vocabulary in Chunks

Hiho Kids

Vocabulary chunks :

• Nice to meet you
• I’m very happy to meet you
• How was it like back then
• We didn’t have radio
• We didn’t have television
• No telephones
• No trucks, they had wagons and horses pulled them
• It was a long long time ago
• I was in the Second World War
• I liked marbles and tops
• We had to wear skirts and stocking
• They didn’t have slacks and pants
• I did research on ants
• You’re really old but you’re really good
• I have a good life
• The secret to living a long life is being happy, working hard, getting exercise, doing things for yourself
• All of those things make you live a long time
• It’s wonderful to meet you, have a great life

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Posted in Elementary (Level 2), Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Vocabulary | Leave a comment