Past Continuous (Past Progressive) in English
Past Continuous (Past Progressive) is a tense used to describe actions that happened at a specific time in the past or a long period of time in the past. This tense indicates actions that were already in progress or were taking place at a certain time when another event occurred.
Formation of Past Continuous
To form the Past Continuous, we use the auxiliary verb “was” or “were” (depending on the person – I, he, she, it – was; you, we, they – were) and a verb ending in “-ing” (for example, “playing “, “eating”, “studying”).
- She was playing the piano when the phone rang
- They were watching a movie last night
Use of Past Continuous
- Actions that took place at a certain point in the past:
- Last night at 8 PM, I was studying for my exam
- Two actions that happened simultaneously in the past:
- While Mary was cooking dinner, John was watching TV
- Long-running actions that were interrupted by another event:
- I was reading a book when my friend called me
- Time expressions that often indicate the Past Continuous:
- at 6 PM yesterday
Note that the Past Continuous is not used for actions that happened in the past and happened only once. Past Simple is used for such actions.
Forms of the Past Continuous
- I/He/She/It was + V-ing (example, playing, eating, studying)
- You/We/They were + V-ing (example, playing, eating, studying)
- I was reading a book last night
- They were watching a movie when I arrived
- I/He/She/It was not (wasn’t) + V-ing (example, playing, eating, studying)
- You/We/They were not (weren’t) + V-ing (example, playing, eating, studying)
- She wasn’t studying French at that time.
- We weren’t watching TV when the guests arrived.
- Was + I/He/She/It + V-ing? (example, playing, eating, studying)
- Were + You/We/They + V-ing? (example, playing, eating, studying)
- Were you studying when I called you?
- Was she watching TV at 8 PM yesterday?
Past Continuous test
Remember to use the auxiliary verb “was” or “were“, depending on the person, and the verb ending in “-ing” to form the Past Continuous. Now that you know these tenses, prepare to take the tests and use your knowledge to answer the questions correctly.