You are currently viewing Past Simple and Perfect through a song: Jenny of Oldstones – Practical grammar in context (B1 and B1+ Levels)

Past Simple and Perfect through a song: Jenny of Oldstones – Practical grammar in context (B1 and B1+ Levels)

Hello there! It’s Your Personal English Coach! Welcome to our English lesson for all music-lovers. Today, we’ll be focusing on the grammar topic of Past Perfect and Past Simple, and we’ll be using a beautiful song and a poem to practice and reinforce our understanding.

This is ideal for: B1, B1+

Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with these grammar structures yet. I’ll be explaining them to you step by step, and we’ll have plenty of exercises to practice together.

Jenny of Oldstones

To start, let’s take a look at the poem we’ll be using for our lesson. It’s called “Jenny of Oldstones,” and it’s a beautiful piece of literature that will help us understand how to use Past Perfect and Past Simple in context. Please read the poem below while listening to Suzanne Pilch, one of the MPEC Partners, singing it just for you!

The Lyrics:

High in the halls of the kings who are gone
Jenny would dance with her ghosts
The ones she had lost and the ones she had found
And the ones who had loved her the most
The ones who’d been gone for so very long
She couldn’t remember their names
They spun her around on the damp old stones
Spun away all her sorrow and pain
And she never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave, Never wanted to leave, never wanted to leave

They danced through the day
And into the night through the snow that swept through the hall
From winter to summer then winter again
‘Til the walls did crumble and fall

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Dan Weiss / David Benioff / George Raymond Richard Martin / Ramin Djawadi
Jenny of Oldstones lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Now, let’s focus on the grammar

Past Simple is used to describe completed actions or events that happened at a specific time in the past. In the poem, we can see examples of Past Simple verbs such as “danced,” “spun,” and “swept.” These verbs describe actions that occurred in the past and have already been completed.

On the other hand, Past Perfect is used to describe a completed action that happened before another action in the past. It’s formed with “had” + the past participle of the verb. In the poem, we don’t have any explicit examples of Past Perfect, but we can create some sentences that illustrate this grammar structure. For example:

Jenny had lost many loved ones before she started dancing with her ghosts.

The ghosts had been gone for so long that Jenny couldn’t remember their names.

Now, let’s move on to the vocabulary exercises.

Before we start working on the vocabulary, here are the 4 key terms and their definitions.


  1. (noun) A large room or building used for public gatherings, such as concerts, lectures, or exhibitions.
  2. (noun) A corridor or passageway in a building, typically one that leads to rooms.


  1. (noun) The disembodied spirit of a deceased person, typically visualized as a vague, shadowy or evanescent form, often haunting a particular place, object, or person.
  2. (noun) A faint trace or suggestion of something.


  1. (noun) A feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.
  2. (verb) To feel or express deep distress or sadness, especially in response to a loss or disappointment.


  1. (verb) To break or fall apart into small fragments, especially as a result of being old or brittle.
  2. (noun) A small fragment or piece that has broken off from something larger.

Let’s practice using these words in context. Please complete the following sentences with the correct word:

  1. The _________ of the castle were grand and imposing.
  2. Jenny would dance with her _________ in the halls of the kings.
  3. The loss of her loved ones brought her great _________.
  4. The old castle walls began to _________ and fall.

Finally, let’s do a quick exercise to reinforce our understanding of the Past Simple and Past Perfect tenses. Please fill in the blanks with the correct verb form (either Past Simple or Past Perfect):

  1. Jenny _________ (lose) many loved ones before she started dancing with her ghosts.
  2. The ghosts _________ (be) gone for so long that Jenny couldn’t remember their names.
  3. They _________ (dance) through the day and into the night.
  4. The walls _________ (crumble) and fall from the winter to the summer and then winter again.

That’s it for our lesson today! I hope you enjoyed learning about Past Simple and Past Perfect, and that the poem we used helped to make the lesson more engaging and memorable. Keep practicing these grammar structures, and you’ll become more and more confident using them in your English writing and speaking. And if you need a hand with the answers to the exercises, just keep scrolling! Good luck!

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SHHHH! The answers are below! 🙃

Exercise 1: 1 – walls, 2 – ghosts, 3 – sorrow, 4 – crumble

Exercise 2: 1 – had lost, 2 – had gone, 3 – danced, 4 – crumbled

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