This chapter will discuss the past continuous tense in English. This tense is used to describe actions starting in the past and are still continuing in the present.
The past continuous is formed with the past simple of the auxiliary verb 'to be' and the present participle of the verb.
to be + present participle (infinitive + ing)
Past continuous tense examples:
How the past continuous tense is formed, depends on whether the sentence is:
Structure: Subject + 'to be' in the past simple form + present participle (verb + suffix 'ing') + rest of the sentence
|Subject||Past form of 'to be'|
|He / she /it||was|
Structure: Subject + negative form of 'to be' in the past + present participle (verb + suffix 'ing') + rest of the sentence
|Subject||Negative past form of 'to be'|
|He / she / it||was not|
Structure: 'To be' in the past form + subject + present participle (verb + suffix 'ing') + rest of the sentence + question mark
The table below shows when the past continuous is used in English.
|To indicate an action that was interrupted by another action||
|To express a change of opinion||
|Actions that occurred at a specific time in the past||
|Two actions that were happening at the same time in the past||
The past continuous tense in English often contains the words 'when' or 'while'. Both of these are used when two or more actions are taking place.
'When' is used when talking about situations which happened at the moment another action was in progress.
Past simple tense is used after 'when'.
'While' is used when talking about situations that happen at the same time.
Past continuous tense is used after 'while'.
Train your skills by doing the exercises below!
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