How to Choose between Past Simple and Past Progressive and Use Them Together

English with a Smile


Let’s start with an example: Mr Baker was talking when the Finance Director entered the room.

First of all you should notice this sentence is in the past.

I used two different past tenses in this sentence.

  1. Was talking. This is past progressive or continuous. Past progressive means a time in the past when someone was doing something for a particular stretch of time. Someone was busy doing something. For more explanation about past progressive, have a look at this article.
  2.  Entered. This is past simple. Past simple is used for anything that happened in the past: this morning, yesterday, last week, from 1990 until 2005, two thousand years ago, etc. For you to use past simple we’re not interested in describing that someone did something for a certain time or that they were busy doing this. As long as it’s in the past, you can use…

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