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  Past Continuous (Progressive) Tense

Grammar >>> Past Continuous (Progressive) Tense

   1. How to make the Past Continuous Tense?

   The Past Continuous is made with the Past form of the verb "to be" (I was, you were, he/she/it was, we were, you were, they were) + the '-ing' form of the main verb. The '-ing' form of the verb is called the Present Participle.

       Past Continuous (Progressive) Tense

Affirmative (Positive) Form

Negative Form

Question Form

 I was  reading  I  was not  reading  Was  I  reading?
 You were  reading  You  were not  reading  Were  you  reading?
 He was  reading  He  was  not  reading  Was  he  reading?
 She was  reading  She  was not  reading  Was  she  reading?
 It was  reading  It  was not  reading  Was  it  reading?
 We were  reading  We  were not  reading  Were  we  reading?
 You were  reading  You  were not  reading  Were  you  reading?
 They were  reading  They  were not  reading  Were  they  reading?

Contracted forms: "Wasn't reading" and "weren't reading" are the contracted forms of "was not reading" and "were not reading"


   2. Using the Past Continuous Tense.

   We use the Past Continuous Tense to say that someone was at the middle of doing something at a certain time. The action or situation has already started before this time but hadn't finished yet:

Examples:  1. What were they doing at 10 o'clock?
       They were working at the garden.
   2. Last summer at this time he was visiting Mexico.
   3. Karen was walking to school at 8.30 this morning.
   4. They were dancing at a friend's birthday party last night at 10.30 p.m.

   The Past Continuous is also used together with the Past Simple to say that somehing happens at the middle of something else:

Examples:  1. David was reading a book in the park when suddenly it began to rain.
   2. While I was walking down the street I met an old friend.
   3. He phoned as we were leaving the house.
   4. They were playing cards when Jim came.

   We can use the Past Continuous to indicate that two actions in the past were in the progress simultaneously (with while):

Examples:  1. While I was studying in one room my older sister was having a party in the other room.
   2. While James was washing the car his wife was cleaning the house.

   The Past Continuous is used to express action that were in progress at the time of another particular time:

Examples:   1. It was snowing all morning.
   2. They were driving all night long.

   The Past Continuous is also used to talk about irritating repeated actions in the past (with always, constantly):

Examples:  1. My girlfriend was always coming late.
   2. He was always forgetting to close the door.

   We use the Past Continuous to make polite inquiries:

Example:   I was wondering if you could lend me your new car for a few hours.

   Remember that we do not normally use the Past Continuous with no action verbs like seem, know, feel, hear, smell, taste, hate, hope, mean, prefer, love, like, etc.


See also: Present Participle /en/




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