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Some Past Tense Issues

Past Perfect before Simple Past

In some cases we have to speak / write about two actions one after the other. Suppose the first action happened at 8.00 PM and the next at 8.10 PM. There is a gap of 10 minutes but they are connected.

  • The patient had died when the doctor broke in.
  • The oxygen store had gone nil when the patient showed signs of improvement.

Make sure you use “had + v3” forms with the former actions and simple past with the latter actions in the same sentence.

Simple Past in Past Continuous

In this, a sudden action happens in the middle of a long action. Suppose you are busy preparing for a surgery when you get a call. What is the long action and what is the sudden action?

  • Mr Brook was driving to Cincinnati when the car broke down.
  • She was being brought to the emergency when the Ms Dalian died.

Long action Quick action

Now, Let’s Play the Questions below.

  • Question of

    She ______ the train when she ______ her old friend Peter.

    • was waiting for + was meeting
    • waited for + was meeting
    • was waiting for + met
  • Question of

    All the three patients ____ before the doctor ____.

    • were brought + had arrived
    • had been brought + arrived
    • had been brought + had arrived
  • Question of

    I ______ to a patient’s home when I ____ my right knee.

    • was walking + sprained
    • walked + sprained
    • was walking + was spraining

Written by Biju John

Love for English begins with understanding its unknown rules. Biju John lives on the internet, teaching OET, IELTS and PTE. More than a million students have thanked him from their heart.

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