Past Continuous Tense vs. Past Simple: The Mysterious Stalker (English / ESL Video)

Past Continuous Tense vs. Past Simple: The Mysterious Stalker (English / ESL Video)

Synopsis of English / ESL Video

Watch the suspense thriller short about Elissa and the mysterious stalker & present the past continuous tense vs. past simple to students in a pre-intermediate level lesson.

Title of English / ESL Video

Elissa and the Mysterious Stalker

Target English Grammar

Past Continuous Tense vs. Past Simple Tense. (Also known as Past Progressive Tense and Simple Past Tense)

Student Proficiency Level

Pre-intermediate level grammar

Suggested Courses

General English.


– Play the video in class after delivering a warm-up activity first.
– Pause the video whenever the narrator asks students a question to give students time to answer. For example, after elicitations and concept checking questions (CCQs).

Summary of English Grammar: Past Continuous Tense vs. Past Simple

Approximate chronological order:


– Starts at 0:00. Ends at 2:40.

English Grammar Rules and Explanations:


– To talk about an action still in progress in the past.


Someone was chasing her.
– Someone started chasing her in the past, but we don’t know when.
– That person stopped chasing her some time in the past. Again, we don’t know when.
– We are talking about the whole period from the beginning of the chase to the end.

Specific Uses:

– Background event:
On a cold dark night, Elissa was working late at the office.
– This sentence sets the setting and the background of the story.

Simple Past:

– To talk about completed or repeated actions.
She quickly ran into the cemetery.
– This action is finished and completed.
– When we use two simple past actions, the second action happened after the first action. For example,
– She quickly ran into the cemetery and hid there.
– So she ran into the cemetery first, then she hid inside the cemetery.

Combining the Past Progressive Tense with the Simple Past:

– Past progressive = longer action
– Past simple = shorter action
– The shorter action happened while the longer action was still in progress. But sometimes these two actions happen at the same time.
– Example: As she was leaving her office, she realised the streets were now empty.
– Elissa leaving her office is the longer action.
– Elissa realising the streets were empty is the shorter action.
– So Elissa was leaving her office and during this time, she noticed the streets were now empty. But she didn’t stop leaving the office when she noticed this.

Specific Uses:

– Interruption: Sometimes a shorter action interrupted a longer action.
– Example: While she was walking back home, she heard some footsteps behind her. She turned around to look.
– Elissa walking back home is the longer action.
– Hearing the footsteps is the shorter action.
– In this case, the footsteps interrupted her walking and made her stop to look back before she continued walking again.

Multiple Progressive Actions in the Same Sentence:

– Multiple actions happening at the same time.
– Example: I was walking home and someone was following me.
– We don’t know which action started first.
– We also don’t know which action finished first.
– We only know that during a certain period in the past these two actions were happening at the same time.
– We can use more than two past progressive actions in the same sentence, and all these actions were happening at the same time some time in the past.



Subject + was/were + verb (-ing) + …
Elissa + was + working + late.

Yes/No Questions:

Was/were + subject + verb (-ing) + …?
Was + Elissa + working + late?

Open Questions:

Wh-/How + was/were + subject + verb (-ing) + …?
Why + was + Elissa + working + late?


– We use conjunctions to join past simple and progressive actions.
– Example conjunctions: while, when, as.
– Example sentence 1: While she was walking back home, she heard some footsteps behind her.
– Example sentence 2: When Elissa was hiding, the footsteps stopped.
– Example sentence 3: As she was running, she saw a cemetery.

Switching the Order of the Tenses:

– We can also place the simple past action at the front of the sentence before the past continuous action.
– Example: She heard some footsteps behind her while she was walking back home.

Concept Checking Questions (CCQs)

Download Video’s Script

Download Script

*** English / ESL Video: No Music Version ***



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