Lesson 20 verb tenses with “when” clauses

Choose the correct answers:

  1. When Susan came home at 5 pm yesterday, her mother __________ (cooked, was cooking, had cooked) dinner. Her mother had been watching TV.
  2. When Susan came home at 5 pm yesterday, her mother __________ (cooked, was cooking, had cooked) dinner. It will be ready in five minutes.
  3. When Susan came home at 5 pm yesterday, her mother __________­­­­­­­­­­ (cooked, was cooking, had cooked) dinner. They started eating right away.

Explain:   

The dependent clauses in the above sentences are the same: when Susan came home at 5 pm yesterday (simple past tense).

The different tenses in the independent clauses show the different times of her mom’s cooking. Pay close attention to the contexts. They will help you understand the sequence of actions.

  • In Sentence #1, “her mom cooked” – simple past tense.  This means that her mom started cooking after Susan arrived home. Before Susan arrived, her mom had been watching TV. ( watch TV first, arrive second, cook third)
  • In Sentence #2, “her mom was cooking” – past progressive tense.  This means that her mom was in the middle of cooking when Susan arrived home. In other words, her mom had started cooking before Susan arrived, and she finished cooking five minutes after Susan arrived. (start cooking first, arrive second, finish cooking third)
  • In Sentence #3, “her mom had cooked” – past perfect tense. This means that her mom had finished cooking by the time Susan arrived home. Therefore, they were able to start dinner right away. (finish cooking first, arrive second)

 

Review:

  1. When Susan finished dinner, she __________ (washed, was washing, had washed) the dishes.
  2. When Susan finished dinner, her mother __________ (still ate, was still eating, had already eaten).  Her mother was a slow eater.
  3. When Susan finished dinner, she __________ (told, was telling, had told) her mother about her day at college. “I’m glad it was a good day for you!”  Her mom commented.

 

 

Answers:

cooked; was cooking; had cooked

washed; was still eating; had told

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