English Grammar: The Past Continuous Tense

All about the past continuous (or past progressive) tense.

Forming the Past Continuous Tense

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

Remember: usually STATIVE VERBS are NOT used in the progressive (-ing) form

When to Use the Past Continuous Tense

  • Interrupted action in the past 

They were waiting for the strain when I spoke to them.

  • Parallel actions

was studying while my brother was watching TV.

  • A series of parallel actions          

When I came to the school, the school bell was ringing, many students were running towards the garden, teachers were going out from classrooms.

  • Story background       

While I was driving to work yesterday…

  • Past habit      

My mom wasalwayscomplaining about my room when she got there.

  • Specific time as an interruption

Last night at 6 p.m., I was eating dinner.

  • Emphasis of length of action      

was working in the garden all day.

  • Arrangement in the past  

I was upset because I was leaving this place that morning.

The Past Continuous Tense | Image

The Past Continuous Tense

English Grammar: The Past Continuous Tense 1

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