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Using Past Continuouos Tense

In this lesson of Learn English as a Second Language, we shall  Learn:

  • Expressing a continuous action in the Past using Past Continuous (Progressive) Tense.
  • Structure of Past Continuous (Progressive) Tense.
  • Short Replies in Past Continuous (Progressive) Tense.
  • Exercises of Past Continuous (Progressive) Tense.

Past Continuous Tense is also called Past Progressive Tense  a very simple to understand and easy to use Tense. We use it in our daily speech. Past Continuous Tense is used to show actions continuously happening at some particular time in the Past. In other words , if you want to express continuity of an action in the Past Time you will use Past Continuous Tense.

e.g. I started to eat my dinner at 7:00 and I finished eating my dinner at 7:30. At 7:15 I was eating dinner. (Past Continuous Action)

The above example clears the concept of Past Continuous (Progressive) . That I started eating dinner at 7 ,which is the starting point of the action eat and I finished my dinner at 7:30 which is the ending point of the action eat. So what was happening at 7:15. An action eat was continuously happening . I was eating dinner at 7:15 (Past Continuous).

Video Tutorial in English

Video Tutorial in Urdu

A few more examples of Past Continuous Tense.

  1. I went to bed at 10. Ali came to my house at 11. I was sleeping when Ali came. (Past Continuous)
  2. When I entered the class room , my teacher was cleaning the board. (Past Continuous)
  3. We were working when the phone rang.  (Past Continuous)

Past Continuous Tense usually comes with Past Simple. In the above examples you can see that I was sleeping (Past Continuous) when Ali came (Past Simple).

Structure of Past Continuous (Progressive) Tense

Affirmative :     Subject   +  was/were     + VI* + Ing    +     Object.

                           We               were             cleaning     our  room when you came.

                          She               was            reading         a book when you called.

Negative :       Subject  +  was/were + not    + VI* + Ing    +     Object.

                     We             were        not        cleaning    our  room when you came.

                           She          was           not             reading a book when you called.  

Interrogative :   Was/Were + Subject   +    + VI* + Ing    +     Object?

                              were                we           cleaning     my room when you came?

                            Was                   she        reading           a book when you called?

* VI  stands for First Form of  a verb.

Note: We was/ were are just helping verbs (be) If you don't have information about Verb to Be in Past please visit Unit 25.

Short Replies in Past Continuous Tense

A:    Were you sleeping  at 2 in the afternoon?
B:    Yes , I was.  (a short reply)

Raheel:    Were they disturbing you, Najma?

Najma:    No , they weren't  (a short reply)

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