Past Continuous/Progressive Tense in English
Past Continuous/Progressive is a past tense for then current activity. Its form is a past be + present participle. Negative Past Continuous has was not / wasn’t, were not / weren’t before participle.
We use Past Continuous to say somebody was in the middle of doing something at a certain time. The action/situation had already started before this time but hadn’t finished.
It was raining all night.
|was/were + -ing|
|was sb doing sth||sb was doing sth||sb wasn’t doing sth|
Past Continuous Spelling
To take –ing
Verbs in a consonant + -e drop it (except in being)
starve – starving
carve – carving
Verbs in a stressed vowel + a consonant double the last consonant
rub – rubbing
stop – stopping
Verbs in -ie change it to –y-
lie – lying
die – dying
Verbs in a vowel + -l double it in British English
travel – travelling
cancel – cancelling
Past Continuous Meanings
Past actions in progress (with stated timing)
At 7 o’clock yesterday evening they were having dinner.
In May of last year she was studying hard for her final exams.
At 6 o’clock this morning I was walking along the beach.
What were you doing at 10 o’clock last night?
Temporary situations (around other past interruptions)
He was walking down the street when he ran into an old friend.
They were watching a film when we arrived.
She was studying law when the war started.
I waved to her but she wasn’t looking.
I thought you were never coming.
She was talking on her mobile phone while she was driving to work.
While I was driving along this morning, I was thinking about what you’d said.
He was cooking the dinner while she was talking to him.
Scene settings (story introductions/backgrounds)
One beautiful autumn afternoon, Ben was strolling down a quiet country lane. The birds were singing and the leaves were rustling in the breeze.
The wind was blowing and the rain was beating down. John Snell was standing at the bus stop shivering. He was trying to imagine being at home sitting by a warm fire.
while, when, as
I was walking home when I met Dave.
Ann was watching TV when the phone rang.
Tom burnt his hand when he was cooking the dinner.
I was watching TV all evening.
Were you working all weekend?
This time last year I was living in Brazil.