Past continuous tense and “use to/used to”

The past continuous is one of the tenses used to tell stories as it helps describe actions and events happening at the same time in the past. And “used to” is interesting because it is used to compare the past and present.

1 “Used to” Q and A

The past tense form “used to” is quite interesting as it it  is used to compare the past and present. Consequently, it can form the basis of of pretty interesting listening/speaking activities and discussions.

Question and answer activity using "used to" to compare the present and past.

“Used to” Q and A (PDF)

(see the YouTube video)

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2 Talking about childhood

This is a gap fill conversation and listening/speaking exercise about childhood featuring “use to/used to” to help English language students talk about the past.


(see the video on YouTube)

3 Past continuous Q and A

This is a  question and answer and listening/speaking worksheet to help students understand how to use the past continuous tense. The pictures are story pictures with two actions happening at the same time. Students can listen and answer the questions while hopefully using the correct grammar.

Past continuous question and answer practice

Past continuous Q and A (PDF)

4 Past continuous complete-the-sentence activity

This is a past continuous complete-the-sentence or sentence starter exercise to help students practice communicating about past events with their own ideas.

Past continuous complete the sentence exercise.

Past continuous sentence starters (PDF)

5 Regrets (past possibility/past modals)

This is really only for quite advanced students as the grammar is quite heavy. But being able to talk about regrets is very useful.

(download PDF)

6 Practicing past possibility

This exercise is to help students practice the grammar used in the exercise above.

(download PDF)

10  Adjectives Exercises Including Adjectives for People and Things 

5 Future Tense Speaking and Vocabulary Activities

3 Parts of Speech Exercises

6 Picture-Based Present Continuous Worksheets (PDF)

8 Preposition Exercises for Location, Time and Movement (PDF)

5  Useful Passive Tense Practice worksheets

6  Present Perfect Language and Speaking Worksheets

7 Incredibly Useful Past Tense Simple Teaching Activities (PDF)

8 Preposition Exercises for Location, Time and Movement (PDF)

3 Great Exercises for the 2nd Conditional (PDF)

7 “Used to” speaking activity

I had to teach “used to” for the first time in ages and I remembered a cool speaking activity I got from a series of photocopiable books of communicative activities we used in the 1990’s. Astonishingly, I still have this set of books right next to my computer. I found the activity and adapted it into the speaking activity below. And it worked just as well as I remembered it. There is some kind of chemistry about talking about the past and present which is really engaging and fun. Uncorrected student’s answers are attached as an example.

"Used to" speaking activity for ESL classes.

“Used to” speaking activity (PDF)

 8  Past  tense and “used to”

This is another exercise in which students can use the timelines about a person’s life, comparing their life at different ages.

Used to writing exercise

Past tense and “used to” (PDF)

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