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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?|