Watch 4 true dog rescue stories about puppies found on the streets of Manila and learn how their lives turned around. You’ll see sick little puppies transform into happy healthy dogs and learn how to tell a great story in English at the same time.
To tell a good story you’re going to need the past simple and the past continuous. The past simple is great for describing the main events in a story but the past continuous adds extra information that can bring a story to life.
It’s useful for setting the scene and describing the background, so it’s great for giving reasons, and explaining why things happened. And it can also explain the timing of events.
You can use it to describe:
– when actions happened – so actions that were going on around a point in time.
– things that were happening at the same time – simultaneous actions
– actions that got interrupted – long actions that were stopped by another shorter action
In short, the past continuous helps make stories better!
Everyone likes listening to a good story, but can you tell a good story?
Story telling is a really useful skill.
It gets you invited to lots of dinner parties.
And it’s useful at work too. Sometimes stories are a good way to explain why you want to do something.
So today we’re looking at a grammar structure that will help you tell a good story.The past continuous.
Also known as the past progressive.
And we have some great stories for you as well.
We have four special stories today.
They’re all about dogs and puppies, and they’re all set in Manila in the Philippines.
And they’re all true stories.
And very heart warming.
Let’s jump straight in and hear the first one.
See if you can spot examples of the past continuous.
Meet June. Today he’s a very happy dog, but his life used to be very different. Two years ago, when he was just a puppy, he was living on the streets of Manilla. He had wounds all over his body and he was drinking water from the ground.
People scared him and he didn’t like it when a dog catcher picked him up. But that was when his life turned around. He spent a month at the vet’s getting better and then he went home with Hazel, his new owner. Now he’s probably the most fashionable dog in Manila.
Past simple vs past continuous
Did you spot the past continuous?
I was just looking at the dog. He was so cute.
I know it’s hard to think about grammar when you’re focused on a story, but let’s see what happened.
Most of the time when we’re talking about things that happened in the past, we use the past simple.
It’s pretty straight forward. You add -ed to the main verb, you form the negative with didn’t and irregular verbs have special forms.
But we heard another past tense form too: the past continuous. We can use it to talk about actions that were in progress at a specific time in the past, so here it’s 2 years ago.
We form the past continuous with the past form of the verb be – so was or were – and then the -ing form of the main verb.
I have a question for you. Why do we say had here and not was having?
It’s because the verb have describes a state here, not an action. State verbs don’t normally have continuous forms. We’ve made another video about that if you’re interested.
I have another question.
Why do we use the past continuous when we’re telling stories? Why not use the past simple all the time?
Great question. The past simple works well when we want to list things that happened. But stories get more interesting when we use the past continuous too, so the past simple AND continuous.
The past continuous brings stories alive. It adds extra information and helps us paint pictures in our mind. Let’s hear some more examples.
It was a busy day in Manila. The sun was shining and everyone was hurrying to work. Michael decided to take a different route to college, and something caught his eye.
A young puppy was limping along the road. He looked very sick and he was starving.
Michael found him some food and water, but he couldn’t afford to adopt him because he was supporting both himself and his younger brother through school.
So he turned to his friends for help. He posted a message on Facebook with a map of the dog’s location and asked everyone to share it.
The message made its way to the US where Geri picked it up. She contacted her friends in the Philippines and found someone to take Jay to the vet.
Jay was suffering from mange, a skin disease that made him lose his fur. He was always scratching because his skin was itchy, but not any more. Jay was adopted by Ninfa and just look at him now. What a bundle of lovely white fur and what a happy dog!
Hey that dog has the same name as me!
Yes, they called him Jay because apparently, in Chinese culture, the letter J is lucky.
He was a very lucky dog.
Indeed. But let’s look at how the we used the two past forms.
Storytelling and the past continuous
Notice how the story started. The sun was shining, everyone was hurrying to work. We often use the past continuous like this at the start of stories to set the scene. We use it to give the background and context for the story, and then when the action starts, we switch. For the events in the story we use the past simple.
But when we’re describing a scene, we use the past continuous, like this. The past continuous paints a picture of what things were like, so it’s very effective at the start of stories.
And another thing. Sometimes we want to give reasons and explain why something happened or didn’t happen. The past continuous is useful for that too. We use it to give context, so here we learn why Michael couldn’t adopt Jay. He was he was supporting himself and his brother through school.
Michael couldn’t afford to adopt Jay because he was supporting both himself and his younger brother through school.
Another example. Why did Jay lose his fur? It was because he was suffering from mange. So ‘he lost his fur’ is an event but we use the past continuous to give the background and explain why.
So the past continuous sets the scene and gives context to a story.
That’s a good way of thinking about it. Past simple for the events. Past continuous for the context and background.
And the past continuous can tell you about the timing of events.
What do you mean?
Well, let’s watch another example.
Erika was a stray dog that visited the parking lot outside Fernando’s office. She was super friendly and loved to be petted.
Every day, when Fernando was going into work, Erika was sitting outside, waiting to greet him. And when he was leaving at night she was there again, waiting to follow him to his car and watch him drive away.
Then one day, Erika showed up with a friend, Chance. Chance was very thin and he was suffering from mange. Fernando was worried about how sick he was. He knew he wouldn’t survive long on the streets, so he decided to take them both to the vet.
It was easy to persuade Erika to get into the car. She trusted him, but Chance was frightened. But by the end of the day, he’d relaxed. He seemed to know he was safe.
Fernando adopted both of them and today Chance is a very happy dog and a lot fatter. Sadly Erika passed away last year, but Chance still lives with Fernando and some of other stray dogs that Fernando has rescued.
So Erica has died.
Yeah. She had a special place in Fernando’s heart.
We know how he feels.
It’s tough when a dog dies. I still think of Carter all the time.
Carter was a dog we had that died.
Notice we have two actions happening at the same time here. We can use the past continuous for both actions and it shows they were happening simultaneously. That can be useful when you’re telling a story.
When we use the continuous form of a verb, it can express duration and repetition. So it indicates an action continued for a length of time, and possibly that it happened again and again. And that’s what we’re seeing here. Two actions happened simultaneously and also repeatedly. Fernando kept going to work and leaving and Erika was always there.
You could switch the word ‘when’ for ‘while’ in this sentence and it would mean the same thing. And you could also change the order of the two clauses and it would mean the same thing as well. These are two long actions that were happening at the same time.
So the past continuous adds information about timing. It shows an action had length and duration.
We’ll often use the past continuous for long actions and the past simple for short ones.
And that can be very useful for telling stories.
Sometimes long actions get interrupted or stopped by short ones.
We need another example. Let’s have our last story.
Nobody knows what happened to Bella. She was probably hit by a car while she was crossing the street.
When Lance and Anzhelika found her she was lying at the side of the road and she couldn’t move.
They took her to the vet but the news was bad. Bella had a spine injury and the vet said she would never walk again. So Lance and Anzhelika found a solution. Bella is mobile again and look at that smile!
What a great story!
It started so badly but then it had a happy ending.
And we had some great examples of the past continuous.
The long action here is ‘Bella was crossing the street’. And it was interrupted and stopped by a short action. She was hit by a car.
Notice we use the past continuous for the long action and the past simple for the short one.
This is another sentence where you could reverse the two clauses and the meaning would stay the same.
And also, you could change ‘while’ for ‘when’ here. But notice that you couldn’t say ‘while she was hit by a car’.
We can use ‘when’ with the short action or long action. But we only use ‘while’ with long actions.
Another example. The long action here was ‘lying’. When they found Bella they picked her up and took her to the vet, so the long action was interrupted or stopped by the short one. Past continuous – past simple.
I think we need a quick summary.
That sounds good.
OK, to tell a good story you’re going to need the past simple AND the past continuous. The past simple is great for telling the main events in a story but the past continuous adds extra information that can bring a story to life.
It’s useful for setting the scene and describing the background. So it’s great for giving reasons, and explaining why things happened.
And it also describes the timing of events.
You can use it to describe when actions happened – so actions that were going on around a point in time.
And to describe things that were happening at the same time – simultaneous actions
And to describe actions that got interrupted – long actions that were stopped by another shorter action
In short, the past continuous makes stories better!
We want to say thank you to all the lovely dog rescuers who have let us share their stories in today’s videos.
They were so inspiring.
If you’ve enjoyed them, please give this video thumbs up and share it with a friend.
And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss our future videos.