English Grammar – Past Continuous

When to use Past Continuous

We use past continuous to talk about:

  • To talk about an action that was continuing during a period of time.
  • To talk about an activity in progress at a particular in the past.
  • To talk about an activity that is in interrupted by an event.
  • To describe the background scene or situation for events in the past.
  • Sometimes we use it to talk about an action that was planned.
  • You could also use it sometimes for a polite request with a particular expression that we use in English to make a polite request.

When not to use Past Continuous

In English, we have two kinds of verbs:
Action verbs, and Stative verbs.
Action verbs, like: walk, study, drive, cook.
Stative verbs, like: know, hate, own, want, need.

It’s wrong to say:

  • I was knowing him.
  • Mary was hating cats.
  • We were owing a house.
  • They were wanting to call you.
  • He was needing to catch her flight.

Past Continuous Keywords

  • All + time: (all day, all night, all year)
  • During event or time.
  • At o’clock or time.
  • If we use: when or while.

Past Continuous Positive Form

Subject + was, or were, + verb 1 with ing + complement.
I, he, she, It, was.
You, we, they, were.

Positive Form Examples:

  1. I was studying all day.
  2. I was cooking at 3 pm.
  3. He was swimming in the pool.
  4. I was working at 10.30 last night.
  5. In 2009 we were living in Canada.
  6. It was raining, so we didn’t go out.
  7. was working at 11pm last night.
  8. They were sleeping during the flight.
  9. She was watching TV during the night.
  10. She was cooking when I telephoned her.
  11. They were waiting for the bus at 8:00 AM.
  12. Last night at 7 PM, I was eating dinner.
  13. was watching TV when my mother called.
  14. was studying while he was making dinner.
  15. We were having dinner when it started to rain.
  16. When the phone rang, she was writing a letter.
  17. Rami went home early because it was snowing.
  18. It was raining on Monday, so we didn’t play tennis.
  19. While we were having the picnic, it started to rain.
  20. When I was studying, my brother opened the door.
  21. I was coming to class, when my teacher called me.
  22. Sami was waiting for us when we got off the plane.
  23. At midnight, we were still driving through the desert.
  24. Yesterday at this time, I was sitting at my desk at work.
  25. My children were doing their homework when I got home.
  26. was listening to my phone, so I didn’t hear the fire alarm.
  27. While Maher was sleeping last night, someone stole his car.
  28. While I was writing the email, the computer suddenly went off.
  29. Today she’s wearing a skirt, but yesterday she was wearing trousers.
  30. I woke up early yesterday. It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining, and the birds were singing.

Past Continuous Negative Form

Subject + was, or were, + not, + verb 1 with ing + complement.


Was not = wasn’t
Were not = weren’t

Negative Form Examples

  1. He wasn’t watching TV.
  2. Sami wasn’t listening to them.
  3. They weren’t studying for the test.
  4. It wasn’t raining when we went out.
  5. They weren’t cooking dinner when I arrived.
  6. He wasn’t practicing sport when I called him.
  7. wasn’t working in the bookshop last summer.
  8. Mary wasn’t crying but she looked very unhappy.
  9. Shadi wasn’t studying when we went to his place.
  10. Susan wasn’t wearing her uniform at work yesterday.
  11. We weren’t carrying an umbrella when it started to rain.
  12. They weren’t watching TV when he got back from work.
  13. They weren’t watching TV all day when they were young.
  14. It wasn’t raining while we were playing tennis this morning.
  15. Joly wasn’t doing her homework when her mother came in.
  16. Mark wasn’t watching TV at 8 pm last night. He was studying.
  17. Maria wasn’t listening to her teacher when he asked a question.
  18. We were cold and wet because we weren’t wearing coats or jackets.
  19. wasn’t running in the public garden when you sent me that message.
  20. Sally was angry with her children because they weren’t sleeping when she arrived.

Past Continuous Question Form

Was / were, + subject, + verb 1 with ing + complement + ?

When to use Question Form

We use past continuous questions to ask about:

  • An activity that is interrupted by an event.
  • An activity in progress at a particular time in the past.
  • The background scene or situation for events in the past.

Short Answer

Yes, I was.
No, I wasn’t.

Question Form Examples

  1. Was it raining when you left school? Yes, it was.
  2. Were you lying in bed at 09:00? No, I wasn’t.
  3. Were your parents having breakfast at 08:30? Yes, they were.
  4. Was Sami playing football at 11:00? No, he wasn’t.
  5. Was he driving a sports car? No, he wasn’t.
  6. Were Fadi and Sami smoking? Yes, they were.
  7. Was she speaking English? Yes, she was.
  8. Were we going to go there yesterday? Yes, we were.
  9. Were they reading a book? No, they weren’t. they were playing.
  10. Was Ben writing a letter to his mother or friend? Yes, he was.
  11. Was the old lady walking with a stick? No, she wasn’t. she was strong.
  12. Were you waiting at the bus-stop? Yes, I was.
  13. Was he taking the dog for a walk? Yes, he was. He was enjoying.
  14. Was Jamy filling the bucket with water? Yes, he was.
  15. Was Jennifer paying attention during the meeting? No, she wasn’t. she was talking on the phone.
  16. Was Tom wearing a suit yesterday? No, he was wearing a T-shirt and jeans.

Past Continuous WH Question Form

WH, + Was / were, + subject, + verb 1 with ing + complement + ?

  1. What were you doing at 11.30 yesterday? I was working at home.
  2. Where were you living in 2012? I was living In London.
  3. What were you doing at 3 o’clock? I was asleep.
  4. Why was Sally driving so fast? Because she was late.
  5. What were the two men wearing? They were wearing suits.
  6. What was Tony doing at 7:00 o’clock? He was having dinner.
  7. Where was Shaheen living before? He was living in India.
  8. Why were they working on Friday? because they need the money for the rest of weekend.
  9. Why was your baby crying this morning? He was hungry.
  10. Where was Sam working 2 weeks ago? He was working in New York.
  11. When were they paying soccer? They were paying at noon.
  12. Where was your sister going at ten last night? She was going to a bookshop.
  13. Who was crying last night? My daughter was crying.
  14. Why were they carrying the buckets? Because they wanted to clean the car.

Story in the Past Continuous

Hi. my name is Jack. Yesterday was terrible for me because I stayed at home all day. I wanted to go out, but it was raining outside. I was feeling tired of being trapped inside the house.

I tried to play with my sister, but she was doing her homework. My father was reading his book and my mother was cooking for lunch. 

After lunch, I decided to sit by the window and watch the street. Some people were waiting at the bus stop. While I was watching the street, I witnessed an accident. A car couldn’t stop at the traffic lights and hit another car. Luckily nobody injured. 

Now I am waiting for my friend. We will go to the park to play football together. I injured my knee while I was playing last week but it is okay now. My team needs me! 

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