Narrative tenses – using Past Simple/Continuous/Perfect for storytelling

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Grammar - narrative tenses

narrative tenses

This is a standalone lesson but it can also be used as part of the set titled:


This lesson plan focuses on narrative tenses: Past Simple, Past Continuous, and Past Perfect. It can serve as a great revision of these three tenses and a good start before our other worksheet on storytelling “Be a better storyteller”. Students will have a variety of exercises to revise and practise using past tenses.

B1 / Intermediate
B2 / Upper Intermediate
60 minStandard LessonPremium Plan


First, the worksheet starts with one task on the uses of Past Continuous. Of course, it is also shown how Past Simple works in comparison with Past Continuous. Students have to match the sentences with the correct uses of Past Continuous. Then, to put it into practice, they have to come up with 5 sentences using both tenses. To do that, they need to choose some verbs from the box given. Therefore, each sentence should include two verbs from the box.


Next, students move to Past Perfect. Now, they need to study some sentences and decide which action happened first. After that, on the basis of the sentences from the previous task, students have to choose correct options in the rules about Past Simple and Past Perfect. Then, they get a list of a few words and again need to come up with sentences using correct tenses.
To practise all three tenses together, students have a short story which they have to complete with the correct forms of the verbs given.


Finally, students work in pairs or groups and have to come up with a story using narrative tenses and the images we provided. The first person builds a few sentences connected with first two images. The next person should continue the story by building more sentences based on another set of two images. Remind them to use a variety of tenses if possible and let them have fun creating a jigsaw story together! However, if your students need some writing practice, you could also ask them to come up with a story individually and write it down.



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Leave a Reply

  1. dirce

    Really interesting lesson! I will be using it this week with my FCE group.

    1. Justa

      Thanks! When you use it, tell us how it has worked with your students 🙂

      1. Safaa Hamad


  2. Safaa Hamad

    interesting!!! I really need it

  3. Sam O Neill

    Excellent class, thank you very much! I have a student who has a lot of problems with the past tenses. It has worked a charm.

    1. Justa

      Hi Sam! Thanks! I’m thrilled to hear that 🙂

  4. Helena -

    It is too difficult for B1 level. It can be confusing if the handout contains both the present perfect and the past perfect.

    1. Justa

      Hi there! Actually, the worksheet doesn’t include Present Perfect. It only focuses on past tenses.

  5. Olga Shevchenko

    I like the lesson but I would much appreciate if the teacher’s notes had a final story for ex 7 ( freer practice)

    1. Justa

      Thanks for the comment! This free practice task can be done in pairs or groups and could generate so many different stories that we decided to not include possible answers.


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