past_continuous

Past continuous tense

Past continuous

past_continuousThe past continuous is also known as the past progressive tense. When you have read this information page, try the past continuous exercises.

Example:

  • He was washing his hands when the phone rang.
  • We were singing and they were dancing all night.

Past continuous form:

was / were + [verb -to] + ing

Uses of past continuous:

1. To talk about an activity in progress at a particular time in the past
2. To talk about two actions happening at the same time in the past
3. To talk about a longer activity that was interrupted by a shorter activity
4. To give a background to an event

 

Past continuous use #1:

To talk about an activity in progress at a particular time in the past

  • This time last week, I was relaxing on the beach.

The particular time is ‘this time last week’, and we are referring to an activity (relaxing).

Past continuous use #2:

To talk about two actions happening at the same time in the past

  • Last night I was cooking dinner while my friends were watching television.

Using was cooking and were watching tells the listenener that both actions were happening at the same time.


Past continuous use #3:

To talk about a longer activity that was interrupted by a shorter activity

  • I was reading a book when the doorbell rang.

The longer activity = ‘was reading a book’
The interruption or shorter activity = ‘the doorbell rang

We would not say:

I was reading a book when the doorbell was ringing.

This would mean that the two actions were happening together over the same length of time.


Past continuous use #4:

To give a background to an event

  • It was a quiet night. The moon was shining and the wind was blowing gently.

In this example, you are simply describing the background of what was happening that night.

 

Now try the past continuous exercises.

Please help us reach more people by sharing!

Comments