Grammar Test – Past Tenses | SIMPLE, CONTINUOUS, PERFECT

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Let’s test your PAST TENSES! This grammar quiz will help you to practise Narrative Tenses – you’ll use ALL the past tenses in English! This is your grammar practice with Past Simple, Past Continuous, Past Perfect, Past Perfect Continuous

Practising these grammar skills will help you to talk about past events and tell better stories in English!

Are you ready to test your knowledge of PAST tenses with me?


Video Transcript

Well hey there I’m Emma from mmmEnglish.

Today I’ve got a quiz for you, a narrative tenses quiz. It’s gonna test your ability to use all of the past tenses in English, that’s right all of them.

Now I’m not going to lie, this quiz will really push your limits but practising all of these tenses all at once is going to help you to better understand how they fit together and how they get used together and that’s going to help you to become a better English speaker, especially when it comes to talking about past events and experiences and telling stories.

So here on the mmmEnglish channel we’ve been talking a lot about storytelling and about narrative tenses lately.

I’ve shared some really great grammar lessons to help you understand and to practise some of the more complex parts of the English language. This quiz, this challenge today is going to test your understanding of past tenses, past perfect, past continuous even past simple.

And I’ve added links down in the description to all of the grammar lessons that I’ve made that are going to help you to study and go deeper on some of the things that we’ll test today in this lesson. The cool thing about that is you’ll get to find out what you’re really comfortable and confident with but we’ll also work out what you need to work on a little more or what you need to improve on.

So here’s how today’s quiz works. I’m going to start off by telling you the verb that I need you to think about and then you’ll see a sentence appear on screen just like this.

So the verb is write.

And I want you to put it into the past continuous tense.

You’ll have a few seconds to write down your answer before I read the correct one out loud.

She was writing an email.

So I know that was an easy one to get started but there are three practice rounds, each one is going to focus on a different tense. The first will be the past continuous.

The next, the past perfect simple and then  the past perfect continuous.

But the final round is longer and you’ll need to think hard about how these tenses work together, including the past simple tense so you’ll really get to put everything that we’ve been learning over the last few weeks into practice.

As always if you have any questions, write them down in the comments below. If you have any example sentences you want me to check or you want feedback on, drop them down there as well. I’ll be down there giving comments and guidance and explanations as we need it.

All right let’s get started!

Round 1: Past continuous

  • Drive.

I ____ to work when it started to rain.

Answer: I was driving to work when it started to rain.

  • Wait.

They ____ for the bus.

Answer: They were waiting for the bus.

  • Do.

What ___ you ___ when you heard the news?

Answer: What were you doing when you heard the news?

  • Watch.

When the alarm went off, we ___ a movie.

Answer: When the alarm went off, we were watching a movie.

  • Eat.

They ___ lunch when he arrived.

Answer: They were eating lunch when he arrived.

Round 2: Past perfect simple

Okay round two. We’re talking about the past perfect simple.

  • Drive.

The train wasn’t running but luckily  ____ to work.

Answer: The train wasn’t running but luckily I had driven to work.

  • Finish.

We ___ eating dinner by the time he finally arrived.

Answer: We had finished eating dinner by the time he finally arrived.

  • Not / Hear.

So this is a negative sentence.

I was shocked when you told me you  ____ the news.

Answer: I was shocked when you told me you hadn’t heard the news.

  • Go.

The alarm went off for a second time. It ____ earlier in the week.

Answer: The alarm went off for a second time. It had gone off earlier in the week.

  • Eat.

They ___ lunch when I arrived.

Answer: They had already eaten lunch when I arrived.

Round 3: Past perfect continuous

  • Drive.

I ____ behind Jim before the accident happened.

Answer: I had been driving behind Jim before the accident happened.

  • Wait.

We ____ for a long time and the tram was still nowhere to be seen.

Answer: We had been waiting for a long time and the tram was still nowhere to be seen.

  • Follow.

We ____ the news closely, listening for updates.

Answer: We had been following the news closely, listening for updates.

  • Go off.

The alarm ____ all week before they finally fixed it.

Answer: The alarm had been going off all week before they finally fixed it.

  • Eat.

They ____ only salad for weeks and it showed.

Answer: They had been eating only salad for weeks and it showed.

Right so before we start the final round, I want to find out which of the tenses we’ve practised so far has been the most challenging for you. Let me know down in the comments which one was the trickiest. I’ll be able to share a lesson or two that will help you out and help you to study further.

Round 4: Narrative tenses all together

So these sentences will be a little longer and they’ll all be connected together into a story. So you’ll need to work out which tense is the best one to use with the information that you have. Now it may be possible to use more than one in some of these situations so don’t stress too much but remember, if you need a little bit more time to think hit pause.

There’s no rush, you’re in control. Pause, have a think, write it down before you keep going.

  • Leave.

When I ___ the house this morning it was raining.

Answer: When I left the house this morning it was raining.

  • Pour.

It was ___ with rain and the streets were flooded with water.

Answer: It was pouring with rain and the streets were flooded with water.

  • Listen.

I  ___ to my favourite podcast

Answer: I was listening to my favourite podcast

  • Pay, to pay attention.

and I ___ close attention to my feet

Answer: and I was paying close attention to my feet

  • Not / want.

as I ___ to slip in the rain.

Answer: as I didn’t want to slip in the rain.

  • Arrived.

When I ___ at the tram stop, there must have been 50 people there!

Answer: When I arrived at the tram stop, there must have been 50 people there!

  • Wait.

All of them were ___ for the tram.

Answer: All of them were waiting for the tram.

One woman said she ____  for over an hour!

Answer: One woman said she had been waiting for over an hour!

  • Notice.

Then I ___ the street was full of cars

Answer: Then I noticed the street was full of cars

  • Be.

The traffic ___ backed up as far as I could see.

Answer: The traffic was backed up as far as I could see.

  • Rain.

It ___ all morning so the streets were very wet.

Answer: It had been raining all morning so the streets were very wet.

  • Cause.

All that rain ___ a car to slide through a red light and into the oncoming traffic.

Answer: All that rain had caused a car to slide through a red light and into the oncoming traffic.

  • Call.

A man at the tram stop ___ the emergency services

Answer: A man at the tram stop had already called the emergency services

  • Not / arrive.

but they ___ at the scene yet.

Answer: but they hadn’t arrived at the scene yet.

  • Help.

A nurse who had witnessed the accident ___ the injured people.

Answer: A nurse who had witnessed the accident was helping the injured people.

  • Warn.

The evening news from yesterday ___ of storms and wild weather.

Answer: The evening news from yesterday had warned of storms and wild weather.

  • Not / stop.

but the warnings ___ people from driving in the storm.

Answer: but the warnings hadn’t stopped people from driving in the storm.

  • Treat.

By the time the emergency services got to the scene, the nurse ___ the injuries already.

Answer: By the time the emergency services got to the scene, the nurse had treated the injuries already.

  • Exchange.

And the drivers ___ insurance details.

Answer: And the drivers had exchanged insurance details.


So what did you think? Hopefully, you enjoyed the challenge.

The really cool thing is that you’ve been practising your grammar, reminding yourself of these tenses as we went through this video but you can also use this same quiz to practise your speaking skills because now you’ve got the answers, you can watch it again but instead of thinking of the answers, say the sentence out loud because then you’ll get to hear me say it and you’ll get to compare how you’re pronouncing each of these words and these expressions as we go.

Now there was probably a couple of answers that you’re a little on the fence about.

If you’ve watched any of the narrative tenses lessons that I’ve prepared then you’ll know that sometimes more than one answer is possible so I’ve talked a little bit more about this over on the mmmEnglish blog so if you want to go a little deeper and try and understand a little bit more then check out the link in the description or this one up here.

So a great way to really lock in everything that you’ve been learning through this lesson and through the grammar lessons on the channel is to start writing your own story. Now I’d love to hear about something that happened to you recently, something funny, something annoying, something strange that you witnessed, whatever it is. Tell me about it down in the comments. I’ll be reading all of your wonderful stories with a cup of tea and giving you any tips and advice as I see that I need to.

So thank you so much for watching, looking forward to seeing you in the next lesson. Bye for now.

Links mentioned in the video

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