PAST CONTINUOUS TENSE

 

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PAST CONTINUOUS TENSE

Verbs have different forms, called tenses. The tense of a verb tells us when the action occurs. 
The past continuous tense implies an action that took place continuously in the past. It is often used with the past tense.

In this lesson, we will learn the Forms of Past Continuous Tense and when to use the Past Continuous Tense
and when to use the Negative Forms of the Past Continuous Tense.

There are two forms of Past Continuous Tense
was + present participle = past continuous
were + present participle = past continuous

Examples:
She was cooking dinner.
I was writing the email.
They were participating in the conference.
We were listening to the presenter. 

When is the Past Continuous Tense used?

The past continuous tense is used to describe a past action that occured over a period of time.

Examples:

He was reviewing the business plan.
I was analyzing the quarterly figures.

The past continuous is used with the simple past in the same sentence.

Examples:

She was writing an email when I came home.
When I met Martin, he was looking for his smarthpone.

Additionally, we can use the word "while" to indicate that there are two seperate actions occuring at the same time.

Examples:

Jack was singing while Jill was dancing.
I fell asleep while I was watching the movie.
We met interesting people while we were on vacation.

This is how we use the Negative Forms of Past Continuous Tense

We form the negative by adding not after was/were.

Was/were + not + present participle
Contraction (or short form):
was not = wasn’t
were not = weren’t

Examples:

I wasn't doing my homework the other day.
We weren't at the movies last night.

Additional examples:

Structure of past continuous    
positivenegativequestion
I was reading a book.  I wasn't (was not) reading. Was I reading? 
He/she was talking.  He/she wasn't talking.  Was he/she talking? 
It was raining.  It wasn't raining.          Was it raining?
You were reading a book.  You weren't (were not) reading. Were you reading?
We were waiting.  We weren't talking.  Were we waiting?
They were drinking.  They weren't drinking.  Were they drinking?

 

Past continuous - common mistakes    
Common mistakesCorrect versionWhy?
I waiting for him almost two hours. I was waiting for him almost two hours. To form the past continuous we use was/were + ing.
What did he doing when you saw him? What was he doing when you saw him?  
We were playing tennis every morning. We played tennis every morning. We use the past simple for repeated actions in the past.
They watched TV when I came. They were watching TV when I came. We use the past continuous when we want to say what was happening (what was in progress) at a particular time in the past.

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