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Past Continuous

by | Mar 21, 2020 | English Grammar, Verb Tenses | 0 comments

The past continuous tense is formed from the past tense of be (was/were) with the -ing form of the verb (present participle).

How to use the Past Continuous Tense

1. An action in progress at a certain time in the past.

Example:

  • At 7 PM last night, I was having dinner with my wife.
  • At this time last week I was travelling to the UK.

2. Use this tense for interrupted past actions, events or activities.

Example:

  • I was walking home when a car hit me.
  • I was watching TV when my telephone rang.

3. Use this tense for multiple simultaneous past actions.

Past continuous for parallel actions

Example:

  • I was reading while my wife was sleeping.
  • Were you paying attention while I was talking to you?

4. Use the Past continuous for repeated actions with “always” especially when something irritates the speaker or the speaker criticizing something or someone.

Example:

  • He was always speaking so loud.
  • They were always complaining about something.

5. Use it with verbs like hope or plan to express unsuccessful or unfulfilled plans.

Example:

  • I was hoping to find out more information about the concert, but I couldn’t.

Past Continuous – Signal words/Time expressions

always, while, when, as long as

Past Continuous – Sentence Structures

Affirmative Sentence Structure:

Subject was/were verb + ING Rest of the sentence
I was eating at 1 p.m. yesterday.
You were eating at 1 p.m. yesterday.
He/She/It was eating at 1 p.m. yesterday.
We/You/They were eating at 1 p.m. yesterday.

Negative Sentence Structure:

Subject Was/were + NOT Verb + ING Rest of the sentence
I was not eating at 1 p.m. yesterday.
You were not eating at 1 p.m. yesterday.
He/She/It was not eating at 1 p.m. yesterday.
We/You/They were not eating at 1 p.m. yesterday.

Interrogative Sentence Structure:

Was/Were Subject Verb + ING Rest of the sentence
Was I eating at 1 p.m. yesterday?
Were you eating at 1 p.m. yesterday?
Was he/she/it eating at 1 p.m. yesterday?
Were we/you/they eating at 1 p.m. yesterday?

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