Now and then

Have you ever seen the changes people and places have through time? Look at the following photos. What differences can you see?

Now and then

Woman: long, wavy hair, young, thin.

Man: long hair, young.

Now and then

Woman: short, grey hair, chubby, wrinkles, old.

Man: bald, wrinkles, old.

When we want to describe some characteristics of people, places or weather, we usually use adjectives. Look at the list of some adjectives we use to describe people, places, the weather or things.

Adjectives to describe people:


  • tall
  • medium height
  • short


  • skinny
  • thin
  • slim
  • chubby


  • short
  • medium
  • long
  • dyed
  • curly
  • wavy
  • straight

Special features

  • mustache
  • beard
  • wrinkles
  • freckles
  • tatoo
  • piercing
  • handsome
  • beautiful


  • hardworking
  • lazy
  • shy
  • romantic
  • friendly
  • jelaous

If you want to check more adjectives to describe people's appearance and personality, click on this link Adjectives

Now and then

Old, quiet, clean.

Now and then

Modern, expensive, crowded, polluted.

Adjectives to describe places:

polluted | amazing | popular | old | modern | crowded | relaxing | historical

Now and then

Old, big.

Expensive, up-to-date, versatile.

Adjectives to describe objects or things:

big | small | expensive | cheap | versatile | attractive | powerful | up-to-date

If you want to check more adjectives to describe objects or places click on this link Adjectives

Now and then

Rainy, cloudy, cold.

Now and then

Sunny, hot.

Adjectives to describe the weather:

sunny | cloudy | snowy | cold | rainy | stormy | hot | foggy | windy | warm | hailing | overcast

If you want to check more adjectives to describe the weather, click on this link Seasons of the year, the weather and the environment.

Writing Exercise

Alex and Mariana are cousins. They're looking at some old pictures of the family. Read the conversations and look at the photos. Then write the differences between the pairs of pictures.

Alex: Hey Mariana… look what I have here!

Mariana: What's that?

Alex: It's our grandma's photo album. It has some interesting photos.

Mariana: Wow! Look… this is my mom! What differences do you see?

10 years ago 10 years ago
10 years ago Now
straight dark hair wavy blond hair
younger older
chubby slim
patient impatient

Alex: And this is our cousin Fernando. I can't believe it!

Mariana: He seems to be a different boy. What differences can you see?

15 years ago 15 years ago
15 years ago Now
short curly hair long wavy hair
skinny well-built
shy sociable

Mariana: Oh no, this is a photo of my 16th birthday! Every year we have the same weather!

Alex: I don't think so. Look at this photo. It's your last birthday. It is so different.

15 years ago 15 years ago
2019 2020
hot cold
sunny/warm windy

Alex: And… do you remember this place?

Mariana: Uh-huh this is where we live now!

Alex: Yep! Too different!

15 years ago 15 years ago
1985 Now
clean dirty
old modern
quiet noisy
Writing Exercise

Do you recognize these people from history? Why are they famous? Write their jobs using complete sentences. Example: He/She was a + Occupation.

famous people

He was a musician/composer

famous people

She was a mathematician/programmer

famous people

She was a scientist

famous people

He was a singer

famous people

She was a aviator/pilot

famous people

She was a writer

famous people

He was a basketball player

famous people

He was a businessperson

If you want to check more vocabulary related to jobs and occupations, click on this link Jobs

When we want to talk about past events, we usually use time expressions. Do you know time expressions in the past? Let's see some of them.

We use LAST to mean the nearest to the present day time:

Expressions with

  • year
  • week
  • summer
  • month
  • weekend
  • June
  • night
  • Christmas
  • Monday

TIP We say last night, last month, last year, etc. NOT the last night, the last month, the last year, etc.

For example:

  • I was at school last Monday.
  • My cousin was at a concert last weekend.
  • Luis was in Texas last year.
  • Her friends were at the beach last summer.
  • We were in Oaxaca last Christmas.
  • My birthday party was last month.

We use AGO to show how far back in the past something happened.

Expressions with

  • a long time
  • ten minutes
  • a month
  • many years
  • an hour
  • two days

For example:

  • Rita was here ten minutes ago.
  • My dad was on vacation a month ago.
  • Karina was in Monterrey two days ago.

The expression YESTERDAY can be used this way:

Expressions with

  • morning
  • afternoon
  • evening

TIP We say last night NOT yesterday night. We also use the expression the day before yesterday and it means two days ago.

For example:

  • My best friend was at a party yesterday morning.
  • We were happy yesterday afternoon.
  • I wasn't at home yesterday evening.

We also use the prepositions IN, ON AT to refer to past time.

With years, decades and centuries. With dates (month + day) With times
Susan was single in 2000.
The Beatles were popular in the 70's.
The plan was invented in the 20th century.
I was born on June 11th, 1985. He was in the park at 6.00 pm.

If you want to check more about prepositions of time, check this material Time expressions

Years in English

Years are normally divided into two parts:
1979 = nineteen, seventy-nine

For example:

  • 1587 fifteen, eighty-seven
  • 1986 nineteen, eighty-six
  • 1752 seventeen, fifty-two
When a year ends in a number between 01 and 09, that last part is pronounced as the name of oh + number.
1907 = nineteen, Oh, seven

For example:

  • 1509= fifteen, oh, nine
  • 1702= seventeen, oh, two
  • 1801= eighteen, oh, one
When a year ends in 00 then the year is said as the digits before 00 and then hundred.
1700 = seventeen hundred

For example:

  • 1300 = thirteen hundred
  • 1500 = fifteen hundred
  • 1400 = fourteen hundred
When people refer to the entire century, an 'S' is added to the end.


  • The 1600s = the sixteen hundreds
  • The 1500s = the fifteen hundreds

Or we can say:

  • the 16th century
  • the 15th century
How to say the years after 2000
For the years 2001 to 2010, the most common way of saying the year is two thousand and + number.

For example:

  • 2007 = two thousand and seven
  • 2003 = two thousand and three
  • 2001 = two thousand and one
For the first years after 2010 you may hear two different alternatives.

For example, for the year 2020, some people say:

  • ❖ two thousand and twenty
While others say:
  • ❖ twenty twenty
They are both used and both correct.
Select exercise

Read the following conversations and choose the correct time expressions. Correct answers will be in green and the wrong ones in red.

Ricky: Hey Sandy, where were you night?
Sandy: Oh, I was at my grandma's house.

Sofi: When was your birthday, Franco?
Franco: March 22nd. And yours?
Sofi: Oh, it was a week

Yeimi: Marco, can you help me with my History homework?
Marco: Sure!
Yeimi: When was the printing press invented?
Marco: the 15th century.

Gina: Carla, Mrs. Méndez was here morning. And she was very happy.
Carla: Really? Why was she happy?
Gina: Because our project was the best in the class.