Past Continuous Tense
The past continuous tense shows a continuing action or state that was happening at some point in the past. It is formed with a combination of the ‘to be’ verb (i.e., was/were) in the past tense with the main verb’s present participle ‘-ing’ word.
- I was preparing dinner when he arrived.
- We were joking with our friends.
When is the Past Continuous Tense used?
- To show a continuous action in the past that was interrupted or stopped.
- I was watching TV when my mother called.
- While we were enjoying the picnic, it started to rain.
- To show a continuous action in the past at a specific time.
- Last night at 10 pm, I was eating dinner.
- At midnight, we were still driving to reach home.
- To express the idea of parallel actions.
- I was cleaning utensils while he was washing clothes.
- They were having dinner and discussing their holiday trip.
How to Form a Past Continuous Tense?
To form the past continuous tense, follow the order:
We were painting the wall.
Now let us look at how a past continuous tense is formed in negative, affirmative and interrogative sentences.
|D.||Interrogative Negative Sentence|
- Confusion on the usage of ‘while’ and ‘when’ in referring to the past.
- Using non-continuous verbs like ‘be’ in the –ing form to frame a past continuous tense. Instead, use the verb that describes the action to make a past continuous sentence.
I was studying when my brother called.
I was studying while my brother called.
While I was playing, he called.
When I was playing, he called.
She was staying at my house when he arrived.
She was being at my house when he arrived.
Instead of using past continuous, use simple past tense.
- When adding –ing suffix, the final consonant ‘l’ of the root word is always doubled.
- If the verb ends with the letter ‘e’, it is omitted before adding -ing.
- If the verb ends with the vowels ‘ie’, it changes to ‘y’ prior to adding the –ing suffix.
travel – travelling
come – coming but not applicable for see – seeing
die – dying