Past Simple For Actions Happening Over A Period Of Time In The Past

In this unit you will practice the grammar point past time expressions, which is related to the grammar structure simple past. Expressions lượt thích yesterday, last week, two months ago, etc. are used to lớn say when something happened in the past.

This unit is organized as follows:

In the first part you will learn how to use past time expressions.

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The second part has five sầu sections. Each section focuses on one of the basic language skills: reading, listening, writing and speaking. The fifth section is a quiz to lớn assess the contents covered throughout the unit.

Expressions for Past Tense




last night

10 minutes ago


last Sunday

an hour ago

yesterday morning

last week

three days ago

yesterday afternoon

last weekend

a week ago

yesterday evening

last year

a month ago

the day before yesterday

last month

a year ago

iguerendianin. (2010). Past simple-Expressions for past tense

. Retrieved 2017, February 16 from


At the over of this topic you will:Use the words yesterday, last & ago and the prepositions in, on and at as past time expressions lớn describe past situations regarding historical events of both English-speaking countries và your own country.


Past time expressions

In English, we use the simple past to talk about when things happened. There are a number of words & phrases that are often used khổng lồ show when an action or situation happened in the past. We Hotline them time adverbials. Here are some of the most common ones.


Now let"s see how & when lớn use them.

Time adverbial: ago

We use time reference + ago khổng lồ show how far back in the past something happened:



The movie ended five sầu minutes ago. The plane landed two hours ago. My son was born six months ago. Her husbvà died ten years ago. I took that photo lớn many years ago. I came to this đô thị a long time ago.

Time adverbial: last

We use last + time reference lớn mean the most recent or nearest khổng lồ the present day time:


I saw a game on TV last night. My parents traveled to lớn Japan last month. Michael arrived in Mexico last January. Last Christmas I got a lot of presents. My girlfriend & I met at the beach last summer. Last year Jake and Jill got married.

NOTE: We say last night, last month, last year, etc. NOT the last night, the last month, the last year, etc.

Time adverbial: yesterday

We use yesterday or yesterday + morning / afternoon / evening lớn talk about the day before today:



Charles wore a suit to lớn work yesterday. We got up early yesterday morning. She left the hospital yesterday afternoon. Yesterday evening Joel called me.

NOTE: We use last night NOT yesterday night.

We also use the expression the day before yesterday to lớn mean "two days ago".

Example: I played soccer the day before yesterday.

Prepositions: in / on / at

We also use the prepositions in, onat lớn say when something happened.


Clichồng on each button lớn display the content


We use in with years, decades, and centuries.


Nelson Madela died in 2013. Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize of Literature in 2010. Mike Zuckerberg started Facebook in 2004. In 2000, Sydney hosted the Summer Olympics. The first man walked on the moon in 1969. The Beatles were a popular band in the 60"s và 70"s. Osoto Wilde died in 1900. The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain in the 18th century. The U.S. declared independence from Great Britain in 1776.

Saying years in English (English Number, 1900)

We tkết thúc khổng lồ read four-digit years as a pair of two-digit numbers. For example, 1969 is nineteen sixty-nine, but there are other ways to say them:



We use on with specific dates.


Martin Luther King was born on January 15. Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929. On my last birthday I had the best party ever.

We use at with times.


We had breakfast at 9:00 a.m. We went for a walk at noon. We talked about the problem at lunchtime.

NOTE: As you noticed, past time expressions are used with the simple past to lớn talk about finished actions in the past. It is important lớn rethành viên that there are two groups of verbs: regular (we add -ed to lớn make the simple past, e.g. work > worked) & irregular (the simple past is different from the base size, e.g. eat > ate.


Activity 1.

Nelson Mandela´s biography

In this activity, you will read a short biography about Nelson Mandela. You will know some aspects and events of his life. You will notice that those events started và finished in the past.

You will also need to lớn identify time adverbials and answer an activity based on the text.


Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science. (2009). Nelson Mandela, 2000 . Retrieved 2017, February 16 from

Nelson Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, inMvezo, Transkei,South Africa. Becoming actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his 20’s, Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1942. For đôi mươi years, he directed a chiến dịch of peaceful, nonviolent defiance against the South African government và its racist policies.

In 1993, Mandela & South African President F.W. de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts lớn dismantle the country"s apartheid system. In 1994, Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa"s first blaông chồng president. In 2009,Mandela"s birthday(July 18) was declared "Mandela Day" khổng lồ promote global peace & celebrate the South African leader"s legacy. Mandela died at his trang chủ in Johannesburg on December 5, 2013, at age 95. Editors. (May 25, 2016). Nelson Mandela Biography. The website . Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from

Decide if the following statements are true or false by choosing the appropriate option according lớn the text. To evaluate your answer clichồng on the Check button và to lớn continue with the activity on the Next button. You can know your score at the kết thúc of the exercise.

Activity 1
×Reading Activity

Activity 2.

The top five events of the 20th Century

As it was mentioned in the nội dung section, time adverbials are used to lớn say when something happened in the past. In this activity you will listen to lớn a radio program about the most important events of the 20th century according to a poll conducted in the US by the Gallup News Service.

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Webster2703. (2017). Radio . Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from

Press lớn play button to listen the program.

Now, drag each sự kiện to the appropriate space from the right to lớn complete the top five. There are five events you don"t need to lớn drag. To evaluate your answer cliông xã on the Check button. You will know your score at the end of the exercise.

Activity 2
×Listening Activity


Activity 3.

The top five sầu historical events of your country

In the listening activity you found out what the most important events of the 20th century are for the American people. Now it"s your turn to talk about your country.

In this activity, you will choose the most important events of the history of your country.

First, think what the most important events of the history of your country are in your opinion. Then, choose five sầu and write them in order. Number 1 is the most important. Use past time expressions khổng lồ say when the events happened.

Look at the example:

The Mexican War of Independence began in 1810 & ended in 1821.

Please, before you send your Top 5, make sure it has the characteristics contained in the rubric.

According khổng lồ the example given above sầu write your five historical events of your country using between 40 - 60 words. When you finish use the following rubric khổng lồ evaluate your progress.

×Writing Activity 1


Activity 4.

When was the last time...?

You will find a danh mục of questions. First read the questions và then choose ten và answer them using full sentences with past time expressions. Don’t forget khổng lồ give details about that time.

Look at the example:

I went shopping three month ago. I bought a pair of shoes.

I went on a date last month. I went out with Sandra.

When was the last time you...?


went on a date


cleaned your room


went shopping


had a party


lost money


bought a CD




played a sport


got a present


saw an interesting movie


studied until late at night


talked to an old friend


went to a good restaurant


wrote a letter


watched a soccer match


went swimming

Now, record yourself answering the question When was the last time...? It is important that you:

Use complete sentences in the simple past tense. Include past time expressions. Answer the ten questions giving extra information about it.

Before recording yourself, kiểm tra the aspects that will be evaluated. They are described in the rubric.


Use the next page lớn record your audio

To send your audio files save it, once you have finished. Press Địa Chỉ SUMMISSION. Cliông chồng on ADD, select your tệp tin and cliông chồng on UPLOAD THIS FILE. Finally, cliông xã on SAVE CHANGES.

Listen to an example of this activity here.

When you finish, use this rubric lớn evaluate your progress.

×Speaking Activity
Cthua trận


Exercise. Remembering activities

Choose the most appropriate option for the following statements. You can know your score at the over of the exercise. Click on the Start button.

× Self-assessment
Cthua trận
ReferencesBasics references

• Cafe, D. E. (1995). Simple past tense #4, by Dennis Oliver - không lấy phí English grammar lessons . Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from https://www.eslcà phê.com/grammar/simple_past_tense04.html

• English language và usage. (2016). What are the rules for pronunciation of years in English? . Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from

• English (n.d.). How khổng lồ say years in English . Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from

• Gallup, I. (1999). The most important events of the century from the viewpoint of the people . Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from

• (2004). 2000 Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from

• Mayor, M. và Longman. (n.d.) Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 4th ed. Harlow: Pearson Longman.

• Oxenden, C., Latham-Koenig, C., Seligson, P.. và Hudson, J. (2004). New English file: Elementary: Workbook: Six-Level general English course for adults: Elementary level: Workbook. 23rd ed. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

• Swan, M. & Walter, C. (2011). Oxford English grammar course: Basic: With answers CD-ROM pack. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

• Tesol Rich English. (2014) Learn English - saying the year date in English - includes saying decades . Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from

• The Internet TESL Journal. (n.d.). Conversation Questions. When was the last...? . Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from

• Wikipedia. (2016). 1900 . Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from

• Wikipedia. (w.d.). Industrial Revolution . Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from

Complementary references

• Lingualeo. (n.d.). Comtháng Past Time Expressions (Learn English) . Retrieved on 2017, February 16 from

• Tú Aprendes Ahora. (2014). CLASE DE INGLÉS 122 Time expressions for Simple Past

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