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Lonely Companions: Past Simple and Past Perfect Reading and Listening Practice

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Recommended level: Advanced

Content warning: This text contains references to the death of a parent.

Notes and instructions: Read or listen to the text, or do both at the same time. It's up to you. Focus on vocabulary, sentence structure, and comprehension. If you would also like to practice your speaking, you can listen to the audio and repeat after the narrator.

The main purpose of this text is to help you see the past simple and the past perfect in action. Remember, the past simple is used for actions which were finished in the past, and the past perfect is used for actions which happened before another past action ("the past of the past"). The text below is a short story. Most short stories, and fiction in general, are written by using the past simple, so this is an ideal way to see how this tense and the past perfect are used.

Scroll to the bottom of the page for select vocabulary explanations, comprehension questions, and discussion questions.


Lonely Companions

Ana sat near the edge of the roof, sixty floors above the city. She closed her eyes and felt the wind blow through her hair. It was cool and gentle against her skin. Her feline companion, Luna, walked up to her and rubbed the side of her warm body against Ana's leg. Ana opened her eyes, smiled, and petted the top of Luna's head, then scratched her behind the ears.

"Are you lonely, too?" Ana asked. She had always believed that Luna could understand her. Even if she couldn't, talking to Luna helped Ana feel less alone. And on this night--of all nights--Ana didn't want to be alone.

As she took a deep breath and looked out at the city, she thought of her mother and remembered the first time they had visited this same rooftop together. There were more buildings in the city now, but Ana could still feel the same energy that she had felt the first time. Cars, buses, and people moved through the streets, and lights shone brightly all around.

Ana wished that her mother could see it now.

Thinking of her mother, Ana reached into her pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. She opened the note as Luna purred and curled up in her lap. Ana stroked Luna's fur and started reading the letter she had read so many times before.

My darling Ana,

The doctors have done all they can to make me comfortable. Do not worry about me. Above all, you have to stay strong and keep moving forward.

Know that I am proud of whom you have become. You are kind, generous, and direct. Never lose these qualities, and never stop living your life. Luckily, I know you have my persistence. And now, you have Luna all to yourself as well. Make sure you take good care of her, and I'm sure she will take good care of you in return.

Do what's right, surround yourself with good people, and never stop loving others.

Just as I'll never stop loving you.

Keep going, Sunshine.


Ana folded the paper, wiped her eyes, and placed the letter back into her pocket. She leaned down and kissed the top of Luna's head.

"Come on," she said, as she turned her body and put her feet on the floor of the roof. Luna slid off Ana's lap and jumped to the ground. Ana stood up. Without looking back, she whispered, "See you next year, mom."

The lights continued shining as Ana stepped forward, Luna at her side.



lonely (adj.) - sad because one does not have any friends or company with them

"After you left for college, I felt very lonely."

blow (v.) - to expel air from one's lips; (of wind) to move and create an air current

"The wind blew through the trees."

walk up [to someone or something] (phrasal verb) - to walk in someone's or something's direction

"He walked up to the service desk and asked for a refund."

rub (v.) - to move with pressure against a surface, typically back and forth

"Before Mr. Matthews started a class, he always rubbed his hands together."

pet (v.) - to stroke (touch and move one's hand over someone) affectionately (usually an animal)

"Can I pet your dog?" "Sorry, he doesn't like being petted."

scratch (v.) - to move one's nails over a surface, often back and forth

"Could you scratch my back?"

look out [at something] (phrasal verb) - to overlook something, usually a landscape

"They looked out from the top of the mountain and saw the village below."

shine (v.) - to radiate rays of light

"The stars shone brightly in the sky."

purr (v. or n.) - the low humming sound a cat makes when it is relaxed or happy

"Neko purred all night, so I couldn't fall sleep."

curl up (phrasal verb) - to settle into a comfortable position, typically one which requires you to curl or bed part(s) of your body in some way

"Heidi curled up on the couch and read a book for two hours."

stroke (v.) - similar to pet, but more general (you can stroke a child's hair, a romantic partner's back, etc.)

"Don't stroke the back of my neck. We're in public!"

wipe (v.) - to rub a surface with a cloth, paper, or one's hand in order to remove something from the surface or to make it clean

"Could you wipe the counter?" (common phrasal extension: "Could you wipe down the counter?")



1. How many floors is the building?

a) sixteen

b) sixty

c) six

2. Luna rubbed her body against Ana's...

a) hand

b) leg

c) back

3. What did Ana ask Luna?

a) "Are you alone, too?"

b) "Are you lone, too?"

c) "Are you lonely, too?"

4. How had the city changed since the first time Ana had visited it?

a) Now, it had more buildings.

b) Now, it had more cars.

c) Now, it had more lights.

5. What was in Ana's pocket?

a) Her phone.

b) A note.

c) A picture.

6. Ana's mom wrote that Ana was kind, _____, and _____.

a) helpful, generous

b) resilient, direct

c) generous, direct

7. Complete the sentence: "...surround yourself with good people, and never stop _____ others."

a) loving

b) helping

c) hugging

8. Does Ana intend to return to the rooftop again?

a) Yes.

b) No.

c) It depends on her schedule.



1. b

2. b

3. c

4. a

5. b

6. c

7. a

8. a


How did this story make you feel? Which parts of it stood out to you? (Meaning, which parts left an impression on you?)

Are there special places which you associate with people or memories from your life?

What are some ways that people can overcome difficult personal times? You can use Ana's mom's letter for ideas.

Did you enjoy this resource? Continue improving your English, and support my work, by purchasing one of my books. Thank you for learning with me, and good luck with your English language studies!

Note: "Lonely Companions" is the work of Alex Makar and is subject to copyright.

12 comentários

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Viola Gray
7 days ago

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Jane Mela
Jane Mela
31 de mar.

The story is amazing. I am going to use it with my A1 students.Many thanks for this lesson.

Thank you for sharing.


Leyla Kurbanova
Leyla Kurbanova
24 de jan.

Alex, many thanks for this lesson. It truly helps understand how narrative tenses work. Plus, the story itself is captivating. It triggers a lot of hidden feelings.


01 de nov. de 2023

Unfortunately, today's society is leading us, every time more, to a lonely life. Devices, internet and above all social media are those false friends that are putting into risk the health of a lot of people, probably, let down by not meet o be part of this empty on-line life.


15 de ago. de 2023

Alex, you can compete in the short stories contest. In my view, you have the potential to win a competition.

15 de ago. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thanks for the compliment. I'll think about this in the future. I'm focusing on other areas for now, but creative writing is something I'd like to take more seriously.

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