Past tense 2 – Past continuous

by Chmayzen EL.
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1. Introduction

The past continuous describes actions or events in a time before now, which began in the past and is still going on at the time of speaking. In other words, it expresses an unfinished or incomplete action in the past.

2. Past Continuous Forms

The past continuous is formed using was/were + present participle. Questions are indicated by inverting the subject and was/were. Negatives are made with not.

Subject was/were base + ing
They were watching
Affirmative
She was reading
Negative
She wasn’t reading
Interrogative
Was she reading?
Interrogative negative
Wasn’t she reading?

3. Past Continuous Uses

3.1. Interrupted Action in the Past

we use the past continuous for any activities started and finished in the past. Emphasing duration

Example:

  • He was working all night.
  • I was watching TV when she called.
  • When the phone rang, she was writing a letter.
  • While we were having the picnic, it started to rain.

3.2. Specific Time as an Interruption

Ongoing action in the past interrupted by a sudden event

Examples:

  • was buying a t-shirt, when i ran into her
  • Last night at 6 PM, I was eating dinner.
  • At midnight, we were still driving through the desert.
  • Yesterday at this time, I was sitting at my desk at work.

3.3. Parallel Actions

When we use the past continuous with two actions in the same sentence, it expresses the idea that both actions were happening at the same time. The actions are parallel.

Examples:

  • I was studying while he was making dinner.
  • What were you doing while you were waiting?
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