Past Continuous and Past Simple 2

The past simple usually answers the questions;

Co zrobiłeś?
Jak często robiłeś?

The past continuous answers the question

Co robiłeś?

You can see that the past simple is not the same as dokonany przeszły in Polish. The dokonany aspect always tells you that an action is completed. The simple aspect in English does not tell us whether an action is completed or not.

This difference means that past simple sentences can sometimes be translated in two different ways. The normal translation is to use a dokonany verb.

What did you do yesterday?
I read a book. – Przeczytałem książkę.

However, in English, I read a book does not tell us if I read all of the book. This means that, in this situation, you could also translate the sentence using a niedokonany verb.

What did you do yesterday?
I read a book. – Czytałem książkę.

In English, we use the simple aspect to focus on a single action, and it isn’t important in this example, if the book was finished or not.

We use the continuous aspect to focus on an activity in progress at a particular time, and this will always be translated as a niedokonany verb.

What were you doing yesterday at eight o’clock?
I was reading a book. – Czytałem książkę.

Past Continuous and Past Simple 1

When we talk about the past, there are three different situations which we might want to describe:

1 Somebody did something regularly in the past.

On (zawsze) chodził do sklepu o ósmej.

2 Somebody was doing something in the past, and the action was in progress at a particular past time.

On szedł do sklepu wczoraj o ósmej.

3 Somebody did something one time at a particular past time.

On poszedł do sklepu wczoraj o ósmej.

In sentences 1 and 2, you use a different niedokonany verb to show the two different situations.

In sentence 3, you use a dokonany verb.

Sometimes, you don’t have a different niedokonany verb to show the difference between situations 1 and 2, and you use the same verb. To show which meaning you want to use, you have to use an adverb or a time phrase.

1 Somebody did something regularly in the past.

On zawsze czytał gazetę o ósmej.

2 Somebody was doing something in the past, and the action was in progress at a particular past time.

On czytał gazetę wczoraj o ósmej.

In English, we don’t have niedokonany and dokonany. We use simple and continuous. People often think of the continuous aspect as being the same as niedokonany in Polish, but this isn’t true.

You can see the difference when you compare these Polish sentences with their English translations.

1 Somebody did something regularly in the past.

On zawsze chodził do sklepu o ósmej. – niedokonany
He (always) went to the shop at eight o’clock. – past simple

2 Somebody was doing something in the past, and the action was in progress at a particular past time.

On szedł do sklepu wczoraj o ósmej. – niedokonany
He was walking to the shop at eight o’clock yesterday. – past continuous

3 Somebody did something one time at a particular past time.

On poszedł do sklepu wczoraj o ósmej. – dokonany
He went to the shop at eight o’clock yesterday. – past simple

In English, we use the past simple for something which happened one time in the past and also for something which happened regularly in the past. We have to use an adverb to show which meaning we want to use.

He always went to the shop at eight o’clock.
On zawsze chodził do sklepu o ósmej.

He went to the shop at eight o’clock yesterday.
On poszedł do sklepu wczoraj o ósmej.

 

Present Perfect and Past Simple

Past Simple

Positive sentences

For regular verbs, add ed to the infinitive.

cook → cooked

For irregular verbs, you have to learn the irregular forms.

make → made
speak → spoke

Negative sentences

didn’t make
didn’t speak

Questions

Did you make?
Did you speak?

Present Perfect

Positive sentences

have/has + 3rd form

For regular verbs, where the past form ends with ed, the 3rd form is the same as the past form.

cook → cooked → have/has cooked

For irregular verbs, the 3rd form can be the same as the past form, or it can be different, you have to learn the irregular forms..

make → made → have/has made
speak → spoke → have/has spoken

Negative sentences

haven’t made
hasn’t spoken

Questions

Have you made?
Has he spoken?

Present Perfect and Past Simple

In which of the following sentences is the verb kupić being used to talk about a present situation?

1 Cześć kochanie. Kupiłem Ci butelkę wina. Mam nadzieję, że będzie Ci smakowało.

2 Ostatni raz kupiłem butelkę wina, chyba dwa lata temu.

Sentence 1 is talking about a present situation. You aren’t interested in when the bottle was bought, only that there is currently a bottle of wine which you can drink.

Notice that, even though the verb kupić is in a past form, you are using it to talk about a present situation, there is a bottle of wine waiting to be drunk. You know this because of the situation and/or because the time the bottle was bought isn’t mentioned, it isn’t important.

You could use both of the sentences below and they would mean the same thing – mam teraz butelkę wina.

Cześć kochanie. Kupiłem Ci butelkę wina. Mam nadzieję, że będzie Ci smakowało.

Cześć kochanie. Mam dla Ciebie butelkę wina. Mam nadzieję, że będzie Ci smakowało.

With the Present Perfect we are usually interested in the present result of a past action and not when that past action happened. The Present Perfect therefore usually answers the question – czy coś zrobiłeś?

Cześć kochanie. Czy kupiłeś Mi butelkę wina? – Tak, kupiłem.
Hi Honey. Have you bought me a bottle of wine? – Yes, I have.

Cześć kochanie. Kupiłem Ci butelkę wina. Mam nadzieję, że będzie Ci smakowało.
Hi Honey. I have bought you a bottle of wine. I hope you’ll like it.

Sentence 2 is talking about a past situation. What is important is when the bottle was bought and this information is included in the sentence. Unlike sentence 1 you probably don’t know anything about the present situation regarding the bottle of wine.

Ostatni raz kupiłem butelkę wina, chyba dwa lata temu. (Czy teraz masz butelkę?)

If you want to know about the present situation, you have to add more information.

Ostatni raz kupiłem butelkę wina, chyba dwa lata temu. Teraz nie mam bo wypiłem.

Ostatni raz kupiłem butelkę wina, chyba dwa lata temu. Nie lubię wina i jeszcze jest w piwnicy.

If it is important to know when a past action happened, use the Past Simple. The Past Simple therefore usually answers the question – kiedy coś zrobiłeś?

Kiedy ostatni raz kupiłeś butelkę wina?
When was the last time you bought a bottle of wine?

Ostatni raz kupiłem butelkę wina, chyba dwa lata temu.
I think I last bought a bottle of wine two years ago.

Translate the following sentences and decide which would use the Present Perfect and which would use the Past Simple?

1 Już ugotowałam obiad dla Ciebie.

2 Wczoraj ugotowałam obiad. To twoja kolejka!

3 Kochanie, naprawiłem samochód i możesz teraz pojechać do sklepów.

4 W zeszłą sobotę naprawiłem samochód.

Answers

1 I have just cooked dinner for you.

2. I cooked dinner yesterday. It’s your turn.

3. Darling, I have fixed the car and you can now go to the shops.

4. I fixed the car last Saturday.