Past Continuous Tense – English Grammar Tenses

Past Continuous Tense – English Grammar Tenses


The past continuous tense is used to describe actions that began in the past and often continued for a short period of time after the action started.

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Form of Past Continuous Tense

Form of Past Continuous Tense
Form of Past Continuous Tense


  • S + was/were + V_ing + O


  • She was watching TV at 8 o’clock last night
  • You were studying when she called.
  • When the phone rang, she was writing a letter.
  • While we were having the picnic, it started to rain.
  • While Ellen was reading, Tim was watching television.
  • He was seeing his friends.
  • They were developing a new idea at the company.
  • While I was walking to the train station, you called me.


  • S + was/were + not + V_ing + O


  • I wasn't eat mango at 10 o'clock yesterday
  • We weren't waiting for a bus when the accident happened.
  • I wasn't listening to my iPod when the fire alarm rang
  • I wasn't having my dinner at 9 pm last night
  • Sammy wasn't waiting for us when we got off the plane.


  • Was/were + S + V_ing + O?



  • Was she watching TV at 8 o’clock last night?
  • Were you watching TV at 3 p.m yesterday?
  • What were you doing when the earthquake started?
  • Where was she going?
  • Were they not going to market?
  • Were they staying with their parents?
I was walkingI was not walkingWas I walking….?
You were walkingYou were not walkingWere you walking….?
He was walkingHe was not walkingWas he walking….?
She was walkingShe was not walkingWas she walking….?
It was walkingIt was not walkingWas it walking….?
We were walkingWe were not walkingWere we walking….?
You were walkingYou were not walkingWere you walking….?
They were walkingThey were not walkingWere they walking….?

You might also like: Present Perfect Continuous Tense


  • Object + was/were + Being + Verb(v3)


  • Mangoes were being eaten. (+)
  • Mangoes were not being eaten. (-)
  • Were mangoes being eaten? (?)
  • The students were being taught grammar all day long.
  • The dancers were being watched by a jury of experts.
  • The man was always being told what to do.
  • The interview wasn’t being held in the office.
  • Were you being helped by Jamie?

Past Continuous Tense Uses

1. Past Continuous Tense describe an iterrupted action in the past


  • He was walking in the street when he suddenly fell over
  • They were not working when the boss came yesterday.
  • We met Minh when we were going shopping yesterday
  • I was watching movie while I was eating chips
  • She didn’t go out because she was working late.

2. Past Continuous Tense emphasize the happening, the process of the thing, the event or the time when the thing or event took place


  • She was cooking at 7 p.m yesterday.
  • I was dancing at 10 a.m yesterday
  • was living in Singapore during the 1990s.

3. Past Continuous Tense describe habits that happen more often than we expect in the past


  • She was constantly singing
  • He was constantly talking. He annoyed everyone.
  • She was always coming to class late.

4. Past Continuous Tense use for the background of a story


  • The picnic was so much fun. The sun was shining, the kids were running around and the adults were playing volleyball.

5. Past Continuous Tense use to emphasise that something lasted for a while


  • I was working in the garden all day.
  • He was reading all evening.
  • They were playing football all weekend.

6. Past Continuous Tense use to polite question


  • was hoping you would tell me.
  • was wondering if you know how to get there.

7. Past Continuous Tense use for actions were happening at the same time


  • You was lying on the bed while You was reading.
  • He were ordering food and she were interrupting.

Recognition of Past Continous Tense

The sentence contains the following words:

  • While, when
  • Yesterday
  • As long as
  • Yesterday
  •  Always, only, never, ever, still, just, 

Read more: English Grammar


Above is an article about the past continuous tense, hopefully providing readers with the most useful information to help you understand basic English grammar.

Let's learn other tenses as well as knowledge of grammar through the next articles of English tivi!

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