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
- Mary was
- We were
- They were
wantingto call you.
- He was
needingto 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:
- I was studying all day.
- I was cooking at 3 pm.
- He was swimming in the pool.
- I was working at 10.30 last night.
- In 2009 we were living in Canada.
- It was raining, so we didn’t go out.
- I was working at 11pm last night.
- They were sleeping during the flight.
- She was watching TV during the night.
- She was cooking when I telephoned her.
- They were waiting for the bus at 8:00 AM.
- Last night at 7 PM, I was eating dinner.
- I was watching TV when my mother called.
- I was studying while he was making dinner.
- We were having dinner when it started to rain.
- When the phone rang, she was writing a letter.
- Rami went home early because it was snowing.
- It was raining on Monday, so we didn’t play tennis.
- While we were having the picnic, it started to rain.
- When I was studying, my brother opened the door.
- I was coming to class, when my teacher called me.
- Sami was waiting for us when we got off the plane.
- At midnight, we were still driving through the desert.
- Yesterday at this time, I was sitting at my desk at work.
- My children were doing their homework when I got home.
- I was listening to my phone, so I didn’t hear the fire alarm.
- While Maher was sleeping last night, someone stole his car.
- While I was writing the email, the computer suddenly went off.
- Today she’s wearing a skirt, but yesterday she was wearing trousers.
- 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
- He wasn’t watching TV.
- Sami wasn’t listening to them.
- They weren’t studying for the test.
- It wasn’t raining when we went out.
- They weren’t cooking dinner when I arrived.
- He wasn’t practicing sport when I called him.
- I wasn’t working in the bookshop last summer.
- Mary wasn’t crying but she looked very unhappy.
- Shadi wasn’t studying when we went to his place.
- Susan wasn’t wearing her uniform at work yesterday.
- We weren’t carrying an umbrella when it started to rain.
- They weren’t watching TV when he got back from work.
- They weren’t watching TV all day when they were young.
- It wasn’t raining while we were playing tennis this morning.
- Joly wasn’t doing her homework when her mother came in.
- Mark wasn’t watching TV at 8 pm last night. He was studying.
- Maria wasn’t listening to her teacher when he asked a question.
- We were cold and wet because we weren’t wearing coats or jackets.
- I wasn’t running in the public garden when you sent me that message.
- 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.
Yes, I was.
No, I wasn’t.
Question Form Examples
- Was it raining when you left school? Yes, it was.
- Were you lying in bed at 09:00? No, I wasn’t.
- Were your parents having breakfast at 08:30? Yes, they were.
- Was Sami playing football at 11:00? No, he wasn’t.
- Was he driving a sports car? No, he wasn’t.
- Were Fadi and Sami smoking? Yes, they were.
- Was she speaking English? Yes, she was.
- Were we going to go there yesterday? Yes, we were.
- Were they reading a book? No, they weren’t. they were playing.
- Was Ben writing a letter to his mother or friend? Yes, he was.
- Was the old lady walking with a stick? No, she wasn’t. she was strong.
- Were you waiting at the bus-stop? Yes, I was.
- Was he taking the dog for a walk? Yes, he was. He was enjoying.
- Was Jamy filling the bucket with water? Yes, he was.
- Was Jennifer paying attention during the meeting? No, she wasn’t. she was talking on the phone.
- 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 + ?
- What were you doing at 11.30 yesterday? I was working at home.
- Where were you living in 2012? I was living In London.
- What were you doing at 3 o’clock? I was asleep.
- Why was Sally driving so fast? Because she was late.
- What were the two men wearing? They were wearing suits.
- What was Tony doing at 7:00 o’clock? He was having dinner.
- Where was Shaheen living before? He was living in India.
- Why were they working on Friday? because they need the money for the rest of weekend.
- Why was your baby crying this morning? He was hungry.
- Where was Sam working 2 weeks ago? He was working in New York.
- When were they paying soccer? They were paying at noon.
- Where was your sister going at ten last night? She was going to a bookshop.
- Who was crying last night? My daughter was crying.
- 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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