Describing activities that took place in the past


Festivals are a series of performances of music, plays, films, etc., usually organized in the same place once a year. They are a series of public events connected with a articular activity or idea and can be a day or period of the year when people stop
working to celebrate a special event, often a religious one.

Festivals are very important in several ways, historically, religiously, socially economically and culturally in the lives of the people of the community.

  • Historically: Festivals make people know more about their origin. In some cultures, Festivals make people recollect the noble past of their ancestors, and express their gratitude to them.
  • Religiously: There is a continuity between the dead and the living, the people in the community ask for material prosperity, peace and a long life for their members.
  • Socially: Festivals serve as reunion of family members, relatives and friends.
  • Economically: Festivals bring most of the community together, this helps them to initiate development projects. Visitors who also come to witness the festival contribute economically to the community.

The rich cultural heritage of the people is usually manifested during festivals. People in the community may wear the traditional clothes, play their typical music and prepare their traditional food.

Clothes, music and food are very important in traditional festivals. The following chart will give you more vocabulary to express yourself when you want to talk about festivals.

Narrative text

To narrate is to tell a story. A narrative is a description of events, especially in a story or novel.

A narrative text is a story that entertains the reader or listener. It is a description of events, especially in a tale or novel. A narrative text will tell a story (usually about something that happened to you) in such a way that the readers learn a lesson or
gains insight.

A personal narrative is a story typically written from the writer’s point of view. It can also express an incident that happened to someone else.

Writing a narrative text

There are several ways to express sequences in narrative events:

Continuing: first, then, after that, next, as soon as, immediately, finally.

Interrupting: Suddenly, unexpectedly.

The focus of a narrative written text is the plot, which has to include enough details to build to a climax.

The narrative text needs to include the following elements:

  • It is usually told chronologically. The sequence of events is the order things happen in a narrative text.
  • It usually has a purpose, which is usually stated in the opening sentence.
  • It may use dialogue.
  • It is written with sensory details and vivid descriptions to involve the reader. All these details relate in some way to the main point the writer is making.

A narrative text needs to include an introduction, main body and conclusion. The introduction, the first paragraph of a personal narrative introduces the subject, and sets the scene for what is about to follow. It has to be clearly identified the experience you are about to relate and clearly explained who was involved and when and where the incident occurred.

The main body of the narrative text has to describe the plot as it happened. Sufficient details help to make the characters real.

The last paragraph of a personal narrative, the conclusion, brings the information together and closes the story. It describes the resolution.

Remember that the simple past is used to express a past action that has now finished.

  • Example: The teacher left two hours ago.

The time expressions that are used with the simple past are for example: last year, last month, five days ago, yesterday, in 1990.

The past continuous expresses a past activity that has duration.

  • Example: I met my girtfriend while | was studying secondary school

With the past continuous, the exact moment in time is always clear: at one 0° clock in the aftemoon, at midnight, during recess.

The past continuous expresses an activity in progress before, and probably after, a time in the past.

  • Example: It was raining when I woke up this moming.

The past continuous of any verb is composed of two parts:

  1. The past tense of the verb to be (was /were)
  2. The base of the main verb + ing.




If you want to ask questions about a particular moment in the past, you can use: “What were you doing…?

  • Example: at seven o´ clock this morning

Question: What were you doing at seven o´ clock this morning?
Answer: I was eating breakfast.

Past continuous

Interrupted actions in the past

We use the past continuous to indicate that an action was in progress in the past and was interrupted. Sometimes a continuous past event (such as running, reading, eating, talking, dancing, sleeping, jumping, etc.) is interrupted by a momentary event. In these cases, we use the past continuous for the continuous event and the simple past for the momentary event.


  • The childen were playing
  • ‘The mother was sleeping.

We also use the past continuous to describe several actions in progress at the same time in the past, usually to set a scene.

Past continuous form

When and While

‘When introduces a second action. The second action interrupted the on going action, Use the simple past with the when clause and the past continuous for the ongoing action.

You use whille and the past continuous with two actions in the same sentence to express the idea that both actions were happening at the same time. The actions are parallel.



A connector is a word that links two or more words or sentences together. We use the connectors of sequence to order events. The most popular connectors are: last, first, next, then, after that, later on or after a while and finally.


  • Last Saturday I had a beautiful day.
  • First, I received the visit of my best friend.
  • Next, my mother prepared for us something very delicious.
  • Then, we ate together.
  • After that, we went to play.
  • Later on, we rested because we were tired.
  • Finally, my friend went back home.

Oral communication is the process of expressing information or ideas by word of mouth. Learn more about the types and benefits of oral communication, and find out how you can improve your own oral communication abilities.

Fuente: Secretaría de Educación Pública. (2015). Lengua adicional al español III. Ciudad de México.