Past Continuous Tense

What is Past Continuous Tense?

The past continuous tense in English is used quite often, especially when telling stories. We use the past continuous tense to describe a past action over a period of time.

The past continuous is most often used when two past actions, one interrupting the other and one longer than the other, happened at the same time. In this situation, the simple past tense is used for the shorter action and the past continuous tense is used for the longer action.

For example, He was talking on the phone when I arrived.

How do we make the Past Continuous tense?

The past continuous tense is formed with the past tense of the verb to be (was/were) + present participle. Let us see how to construct sentences of Past continuous tense.

General Structure

  • 1. Affirmative (Positive) Sentence
Subject “To Be” Verb Rest of the sentence.
I, He, She, It was present participle Rest of the sentence.
We, You, They were present participle Rest of the sentence.
  • 2. Negative Sentence
Subject “To Be”+Not Verb Rest of the sentence.
I, He, She, It was not present participle Rest of the sentence.
We, You, They were not present participle Rest of the sentence.
  • 3. Yes/No type Question
“To Be” Subject Verb Rest of the sentence?
Was I, he, she, it present participle Rest of the sentence?
Were we, you, they present participle Rest of the sentence?
  • 4.Information Question?
QW “To Be” Subject Verb Rest of the sentence?
QW was I, he, she, it present participle Rest of the sentence?
QW were we, you, they present participle Rest of the sentence?

Important Note:

Verb – Present Participle
Auxiliary Verb – Was, Were
I , He, She, It – Was
We, You, They – Were

1. Affirmative (Positive) Sentences

Subject “To Be” Verb (Present Participle) Rest of the sentence
I was working on my website.
You were learning English at home.
We were reading WhatIsGrammar.com
He was speaking on the phone.
She was writing a novel.
It was getting worse.
They are playing cricket.

2. Negative Sentences

Subject “To Be” Verb (Present Participle) Rest of the sentence
I was not working on my website.
You were not learning English at home.
We were not reading WhatIsGrammar.com
He was not speaking on the phone.
She was not writing a novel.
It was not getting worse.
They were not playing cricket.

3. Yes/No type Question

Auxiliary Subject Verb (Present Participle) Rest of the sentence?
Was I working on my website.?
Were you learning English at home?
Were we reading WhatIsGrammar.com?
Was he speaking on the phone?
Was She writing a novel?
Was it getting worse?
Were they playing cricket?

4. Information Questions

Question Auxiliary Subject Present Participle
Rest of the sentence?
When was I working on my website?
Where were you learning English?
What were we reading ?
What was he speaking on the phone?
What was she writing ?
Why was it getting worse?
Where were they playing cricket?

When should we use the Past Continuous Tense?

So, now you can make the past continuous tense. But what about present continuous use? Here are some situations when we need this tense:

Use 1 Interrupted Action in the Past

The past continuous is often used when a continuous action in the past which is interrupted by another action or a time. We usually use when or while to link these two sentences.
Past Continuous + When + Past Simple
I was writing when my friend came home.
I was talking with my brother when you called me.
He was sleeping when I wend his home.
While I was sleeping last night, someone stole my car.
While he was working, the system did not work.

Use 2 Actions which happened at the same time in the past

We also use past continuous tense to talk about two or more activities happening at the same. It expresses the idea that both actions were happening at the same time. The actions are parallel.
Shiva was singing while his daughter was dancing.
When Raj was watching TV, his wife was working in the kitchen.

Use 3 Repeated action in the past

We use the present continuous to say that we are in the process of doing a longer action which is in progress; however, we might not be doing it at this exact second.
Examples:
She was always coming to class late.
He was constantly talking. He annoyed everyone.
I didn’t like them because they were always complaining.

One comment on “Past Continuous Tense
  1. srinivasan says:

    This website is really very useful.thank you so much

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*


*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>