How can we make the past continuous? Firstly, check that you know how to make the past simple to be. If not, contact us and let us help you.
Here’s the positive form:
- I was sleeping
- you were working
- he was coming
- she was reading ‘War and Peace’
- it was raining
- we were shopping
- they were watching a film
Next, here’s the negative – it’s very easy, just add ‘not’:
- I was not (wasn’t) sleeping
- you were not (weren’t) working
- he was not (wasn’t) coming
- she was not (wasn’t) reading ‘War and Peace’
- it was not (wasn’t) raining
- we were not (weren’t) shopping
- they were not (weren’t) watching a film
Why don’t you try some exercises here.
And, just like the past simple, to make a ‘yes / no’ question, put ‘was / were’ in front of the subject:
- Was I listening?
- Were you working?
- Was she working?
- Was he living in Paris at the time?
- Was it snowing when you arrived?
- Were we eating?
- Were they studying?
To make a ‘wh’ question (of course) put the question word at the beginning:
- Why was I working?
- Where were you living?
- How was she travelling?
- Where was he going?
- Why was it snowing in the summer?
- What were we eating?
- Why were they studying?
The grammar used in written language and the grammar used in conversational language are often quite different. In fact, what’s normal, common, and acceptable in spoken language is often considered unacceptable in written language. For that reason, we’ll take a look, in the next several Hints, at what some of these differences are.
1. Yes / No Questions
BE + subject + other words?
Is anyone absent?
Are you hungry?
Are Joe and Bill brothers?
Was she at work today?
Were Jun’s parents born in Japan?
AUXILIARY + subject + verb + other words?
Is anyone listening?
Are you feeling hungry?
Are Susie and Jill coming to the party?
Can you understand this?
Will you help me?
Should we stay or leave?
Has Fred’s wife had her baby yet?
Have you seen that movie?
Have you had lunch yet?
Had they already left when you arrived?
Do / Does / Did + subject + verb + other words?
Do you understand me?
Does your apartment have air conditioning?
Did Joe call you last night?
Do you do your laundry more than once a week?
Did your brother do well on his exam?
In everyday conversation, Yes / No questions are often “abbreviated” by omitting some of the words. The result is sentences that are common, normal, and acceptable for speaking, but not acceptable in writing. There are two main ways that these “abbreviated” questions are made.
Here’s one of them:
Omitting BE or the Auxiliary Verb
Is anyone absent? ===> Anyone absent?
Are you hungry? ===> You hungry?
Was she at work today? ===> She at work today?
Is anyone listening? ===> Anyone listening?
Are you feeling hungry? ===> You feeling hungry?
Are Susie and Jill coming to the party? ===>
Susie and Jill coming to the party?
Has Fred’s wife had her baby yet? ===?
Fred’s wife had her baby yet?
Have you seen that movie? ===>
You seen that movie?
Have you had lunch yet? ===> You had lunch yet?
Had they already left when you arrived? ===>
They already left when you arrived?
Do you understand me? ===> You understand me?
Does your apartment have air conditioning? ===>
Your apartment have air conditioning?
Did Joe call you last night? ===> Joe call you
Do you do your laundry more than once a week? ===>
You do your laundry more than once a week?
Did your brother do well on his exam? ===>
Your brother do well on his exam?
Eslcafe.com is a great resource for information. They continually help BBE with the format of lessons, including this one!
‘to look after’ means to take care of someone or something.
- When I have to travel on business, my parents usually look after my children.
- I look after the office when my colleagues are away on business.
‘to look ahead’ means to think about and plan the future.
- We have to look ahead and try to estimate our needs for the next few years.
- In this business, it’s very difficult to look ahead and predict what will happen.
‘to look at’ means to read something quickly and not very thoroughly.
- Could you look at my report and tell me if you think it’s OK?
- I looked at your figures and they seem fine to me.
‘to look at’ can also mean to investigate or think carefully about a problem or situation.
- Costs are getting out of control. We need to look at them closely.
- John looked at renting cars but it would be too expensive.
‘to look back’ means to think about something that happened in the past.
- I realise I was very naive when I look back.
- If we look back over the last three years, we can see many times when we were very successful.
‘to look down on’ means to think something or someone is inferior.
- The people who work in Headquarters always look down on the people in the branches.
- Don’t look down on him just because he left school at 16. He has been very successful.
‘to look for’ means to try to find something lost or that you need.
- My assistant is leaving at the end of the month. I’m looking for a new one.
- He has been looking for a job for ages now.
‘to look forward to’ means to feel excited and happy about something that is going to happen.
- I’m seeing him on Tuesday. I’m really looking forward to it.
- We’re looking forward to our English classes.
‘to look in’ means to visit someone for a short time.
- I’ll look in on my way home and we can have a cup of tea.
- Look in on Jenny and check that she is still working.
‘to look into’ means to examine a problem or situation.
Usage: At, on, in:
At, on and in are prepositions of place and show the position of people, places and things:
e.g. at the cinema on the wall in the shop
at + the + place: the cinema, theatre, school, BBE, cross roads etc.. e.g. at the bank.
at + specific place: Heathrow Airport, Buckingham Palace: e.g. at Notre Dame Cathedral.
at + specific address including the house number/name: e.g. at 33 rue de La Fayette, Paris.
N.B. In English, at is not normally used with names of villages, towns and cities.
on + a/the + surface of a place or object: shelf, wall, floor, ceiling etc.. e.g. on the table.
on + the directions: left/right/other side/nearside/far side: e.g. on the left.
on + levels of a building: first floor, second floor, top floor etc.. e.g. on the ground floor.
on + the + parts of a ship: port side/ starboard side/bow/stern.
on + parts of the body: his foot, her leg, our heads etc.. e.g. on his left arm.
on + a/the + types of transport: horse, bicycle, train, foot etc.. e.g. on the ferry, on a horse.
N.B. English people say in a car ( not on a car ).
in + names of countries: France, England, Poland etc.. e.g. in Belgium.
in + names of towns, villages, cities: Warsaw, London etc.. e.g. in Brussels.
in + named places: Buckingham Palace, the Louvre etc.. e.g. in Windsor Castle.
in + the + geographical regions: Auvergne, Lake District etc.. e.g. in the Alps.
in + streets, roads, avenues: Moniuszki, Fish Street etc.. e.g. in Stratford Avenue.
in + the + rooms and places: kitchen, bedroom, foyer, auditorium etc.. e.g. in the bathroom.
in + the + weather: sun, rain, hail, snow etc.. e.g. in the fog.
in + parts of the body: his foot, her leg, our heads etc.. e.g. in his foot.
in + a/the + types of transport: car, train, van, lorry, aeroplane, ship e.g. in a train.
A: In English, certain expressions are different, so must be learnt!
at the moment on holiday in a loud/angry/quiet/low voice
at this/that moment on the radio in a good/bad mood
at the same time on television in a bad temper
at no time on the menu in a suit
at present on the agenda in a new dress
at the end/beginning in clean/dirty/new shoes
B: Some expressions are used without a/the, here are some common examples:
at school in bed
at home in business
at school in hospital
at school in prison
at 37 k.p.h.
C: Both on and in can be used for types of transport and parts of the body:
On is used when the part of the body/type of transport is the most important detail.
In is used when position is the most important piece of information.
e.g. Peter travelled to London on the train. – type
John sat in the last carriage of the London train. – position
Joanna has a cut on her left arm. – part of the body
Ania has broken a bone in her wrist. – position in the body
D: At and in can be used with places which can contain large numbers of people: cinema, theatre, church, stadium etc..
At is used when the activity is the most important piece of information.
In is used when the place/position is the most important detail.
e.g. I will meet you for a meal at the usual restaurant.
Richard and Magda met in the foyer of the Royal Theatre.
E: Both at and to can be used with places:
At is used when there is no active movement in the phrase/sentence.
To is used when there is movement in the phrase/sentence
e.g. At school, there are forty teachers and four hundred pupils. – no movement
Marcin is cycling to London to visit his friends. – movement
F: Both at and to can follow certain verbs: the meaning of the verb is different in each case: to throw, run, shout.
e.g. Bill threw a stone to me. ( a friendly action )
Bill threw a stone at me. ( a hostile action: intending to hurt someone )
Maria ran to me. ( a friendly action )
Maria ran at me ( a hostile action: intending to attack )
Eric shouted to me. ( a friendly action )
Eric shouted at me ( a hostile action: intending to express anger )
G: The preposition by is often used with transport when the type of transport is very important: the common examples are: by aeroplane, bicycle, horse, car, ferry, horse, lorry, ship, train
e.g. The businessmen travelled to Africa by aeroplane and in Africa, they travelled by car.
N.B. Walking is travel on foot ( not by foot )
Note: Thanks to world-english.org for the information!
[has/have + past participle]
- You have seen that movie many times.
- Have you seen that movie many times?
USE 1 Unspecified Time Before Now
We use the Present Perfect to say that an action happened at an unspecified time before now. The exact time is not important. You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with specific time expressions such as: yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was a child, when I lived in Japan, at that moment, that day, one day, etc. We CAN use the Present Perfect with unspecific expressions such as: ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, etc.
- I have seen that movie twenty times.
- I think I have met him once before.
- There have been many earthquakes in California.
- People have traveled to the Moon.
- People have not traveled to Mars.
- Have you read the book yet?
- Nobody has ever climbed that mountain.
- A: Has there ever been a war in the United States?
B: Yes, there has been a war in the United States.
How Do You Actually Use the Present Perfect?
The concept of “unspecified time” can be very confusing to English learners. But, in general, remember that the present perfect is used for an action in the past that has a result of now.
It is best to associate Present Perfect with the following topics:
TOPIC 1 Experience
You can use the Present Perfect to describe your experience. It is like saying, “I have the experience of…” You can also use this tense to say that you have never had a certain experience. The Present Perfect is NOT used to describe a specific event.
- I have been to France.
This sentence means that you have had the experience of being in France. Maybe you have been there once, or several times.
- I have been to France three times.
You can add the number of times at the end of the sentence.
- I have never been to France.
This sentence means that you have not had the experience of going to France.
- I think I have seen that movie before.
- He has never traveled by train.
- Joan has studied two foreign languages.
- A: Have you ever met him?
B: No, I have not met him.
TOPIC 2 Change Over Time
We often use the Present Perfect to talk about change that has happened over a period of time.
- You have grown since the last time I saw you.
- The government has become more interested in arts education.
- Japanese has become one of the most popular courses at the university since the Asian studies program was established.
- My English has really improved since I moved to Australia.
TOPIC 3 Accomplishments
We often use the Present Perfect to list the accomplishments of individuals and humanity. You cannot mention a specific time.
- Man has walked on the Moon.
- Our son has learned how to read.
- Doctors have cured many deadly diseases.
- Scientists have split the atom.
TOPIC 4 An Uncompleted Action You Are Expecting
We often use the Present Perfect to say that an action which we expected has not happened. Using the Present Perfect suggests that we are still waiting for the action to happen.
- James has not finished his homework yet.
- Susan hasn’t mastered Japanese, but she can communicate.
- Bill has still not arrived.
- The rain hasn’t stopped.
TOPIC 5 Multiple Actions at Different Times
We also use the Present Perfect to talk about several different actions which have occurred in the past at different times. Present Perfect suggests the process is not complete and more actions are possible.
- The army has attacked that city five times.
- I have had four quizzes and five tests so far this semester.
- We have had many major problems while working on this project.
- She has talked to several specialists about her problem, but nobody knows why she is sick.
Time Expressions with Present Perfect
When we use the Present Perfect it means that something has happened at some point in our lives before now. Remember, the exact time the action happened is not important.
Sometimes, we want to limit the time we are looking in for an experience. We can do this with expressions such as: in the last week, in the last year, this week, this month, so far, up to now, etc.
- Have you been to Mexico in the last year?
- I have seen that movie six times in the last month.
- They have had three tests in the last week.
- She graduated from university less than three years ago. She has worked for three different companies so far.
- My car has broken down three times this week.
“Last year” and “in the last year” are very different in meaning. “Last year” means the year before now, and it is considered a specific time which requires simple past. “In the last year” means from 365 days ago until now. It is not considered a specific time, so it requires Present Perfect.
- I went to Mexico last year.
I went to Mexico in the calendar year before this one.
- I have been to Mexico in the last year.
I have been to Mexico at least once at some point between 365 days ago and now.
USE 2 Duration From the Past Until Now (Non-Continuous Verbs)
With Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Present Perfect to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. “For five minutes,” “for two weeks,” and “since Tuesday” are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect.
- I have had a cold for two weeks.
- She has been in England for six months.
- Mary has loved chocolate since she was a little girl.
Although the above use of Present Perfect is normally limited to Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, the words “live,” “work,” “teach,” and “study” are sometimes used in this way even though they are NOT Non-Continuous Verbs.
The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.
- You have only seen that movie one time.
- Have you only seen that movie one time?
ACTIVE / PASSIVE
- Many tourists have visited that castle. Active
- That castle has been visited by many tourists. Passive
If you ‘fall out’ with somebody, you have a bad argument with them.
- They fell out over the arrangements for the meeting.
- I don’t want to fall out with you but I’m very unhappy with what you have done.
If news ‘leaks out’, people who shouldn’t know about it do.
- Details of the report leaked out over the weekend.
- If this information leaks out, we are in serious trouble.
- She came straight out with it and said I was a liar.
- You never know what he is going to come out with next.
If you ‘come out with’ a new product , you make available something new.
- Microsoft have come out with a new version of Office.
- We haven’t come out with a new product for two years.
If you ‘give out’ information, you hand it out to people.
- I’ll give out a summary at the end so you don’t need to take notes.
- Could you give those papers out for me, please?
If something ‘gives out’, it stops working or supplies run out.
- Our stock of leather will give out in three days, if we don’t get any more.
My voice is about to give out so I’ll stop my presentation at this point.
If you are ‘let out’ of something, it can mean that you escape from doing something difficult or unpleasant or that you have agreed to do.
- They won’t let us out of our contract with them.
- He resigned this morning which lets me out from having to fire him.
If you ‘make something out’, it can mean that you are able to see or hear something with difficulty.
- I couldn’t make out what he was saying with all that background noise.
- I can’t make out who sent me this letter.
To ‘make out something’ can mean to claim falsely that something is true.
- He made out that he had a lot of experience in this area but it wasn’t true.
- He’s not as difficult a person as he is often made out to be.
If you are ‘put out’, it can mean that you are annoyed or caused extra work by something that is said or done.
- He seemed put out that we didn’t ask him to join us for lunch.
- I don’t want to put you out. Don’t do it if it is too much bother.
Put out by English? Why don’t you get in touch with BBE?
Usage: At, On, In:
These prepositions are used to show the time and date of events, activities and situations:
e.g. at three o’clock. in June. on Monday.
at + particular time: dawn, midday, noon, night, midnight, nine o’clock etc.. e.g. at dawn.
at + the + a particular time in a week/month/year: start/end of the week/month/year, weekend. e.g. at the start of July.
at + calendar festival season: Christmas, New Year, Easter etc.. e.g. at Easter.
at + meal: breakfast, lunch, mid-morning, tea, dinner, supper etc.. e.g. at breakfast.
on + day of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc. e.g. on Thursday.
on + particular part of a day: Friday morning, Saturday afternoon. e.g. on Sunday evening.
on + particular date: 25 July 2001, 4 January. e.g. on 19 March.
N.B. On the nineteenth of March is how this date is read aloud or said in conversation.
on + calendar festival day: Christmas Day, Palm Sunday. e.g. on Easter Sunday.
in + the + a part of a day: the morning, the afternoon, evening. e.g. in the afternoon.
in + month: January, February, March, April, May etc.. e.g. in June.
in + season of the year: Spring, Summer, Autumn. e.g. in Winter.
in + specific year: 1988, 1989, 1990 etc.. e.g. in 1999.
in + the + a specific century: nineteenth century. e. g. in the twentieth century.
in + historical period of time: the Dark Ages, Pre-historic Times. e.g. in the Middle Ages.
N.B. No preposition is used if the day/year has each, every, last, next, this before it:
e.g. I go to England every Christmas ( not at every Christmas )
I’ll see you next Monday afternoon. ( not on Monday afternoon )
Martin left home last evening. ( not in the evening )
Usage: For and Since:
These prepositions explain how long an event, activity, situation has continued:
e.g. for three days since last Thursday
for + a period of time: two days, one week, three months, four years e.g. for the weekend.
This phrase can be used with all verb tenses.
e.g. Michael went to Latvia last year for three weeks. – past
I am in Poznan for ten days. – present
My cousin will be visiting the West Indies for two months next February. – future
since + a point of time + past tense: last week, the war ended, 1990, yesterday.
The point of time does not have to be accurate.
e.g. My sister and her husband have worked in India since 1991.
Arek has been very ill since yesterday evening.
Usage: During and While:
These prepositions explain a period of time in which an event, activity or situation took place:
e.g. during the next month while I was swimming.
during + a noun or phrase: the war, the nineteenth century: e.g. during my schooldays. This phrase can be used with all verb tenses: past, present, future.
e.g. Magda received many telephone messages during the last week. – past
I am seeing Simon during the morning. – present
Winston will return to England during the Christmas Holiday. – future
while + subject + verb: to eat, talk, swim, walk etc…. This clause can be used with all verb tenses: past, present, future
e.g. We will take you to the theatre while we are in London.
While Joanna was in Spain, she didn’t go to a bull fight.
N.B. In English, While can often be replaced by when and retain the same meaning.
while + infinitive + -ing (Present Participle): thinking, running, driving etc..
e.g. While swimming in the sea, Hania was attacked by a shark.
Ela met Andrew while studying English at Oxford.
Usage: Before and After:
These prepositions explain accurately the timing of an event, activity or situation:
e.g. before the weekend after the holiday
before + a noun: Monday, Christmas, examinations etc.. e.g. before the weekend.
before + subject + verb: to eat, study, swim, talk. etc.. All verb tenses can be used.
e.g. He spoke to his teacher before the examination began.
Before you say anything, I must explain why I am here.
before + infinitive + -ing (Present Participle): to read, write etc.. e.g. before eating.
after + noun: the lesson, the meal etc. e.g. after the journey
after + subject + verb: to draw, sit, read etc.. All verb tenses can be used:
e.g. Patricia was very happy after she won the tennis match.
Why did the Queen smile after the President shook her hand?
After she finishes her studies, Ann will work in Poland.
after + infinitive + -ing (Present Participle): to decide, say, report etc.. e.g. after crying.
Usage: By, until, till:
These prepositions describe a time limit for commencement/completion of an activity.
e.g. by Sunday until April 1995 till next week
By means not later than and can be used with all verb tenses.
Until/till explains how long an activity continues, will continue or has continued and can be used with all verb tenses.
N.B. Until/till have the same meaning: till is a short form of until.
by + noun describing time/date: examples: this afternoon, tomorrow, Thursday.
e.g. Please pay me by Friday morning.
Will you finish your work by four o’clock?
By the end of the year, Donata spoke English very well.
Structure: Until, till:
until/till + noun describing time/date: examples: next week, this evening, tomorrow.
e.g. Tom’s wife will stay here until/till the end of next week.
Until/till the end of the month, you can use my computer.
The Williams Family lived in Germany until/till 1991.
Usage: From – – – – to/until:
From . . . . . to/until defines the beginning and end of a period of time, present, past or future:
e.g. from April 1989 to July from November until March
Structure: From – – – – – to/until/till:
From + time/day/date/year to + time/day/date/year and can be used with all verb tenses.
e.g. From 1987 until 1991, Mary was at university in Leeds.
Each day, Arthur works in the bank from nine till five thirty.
My shop will be closed from 1st July to 31st August