The Past Continuous or Progressive is the tense used to talk about situations that occurred in the past and were in progress at every moment during a period of time.
When expressed in its Affirmative Form, the verb confirms that something was happening in a period of time in the past.
The Past Continuous or Progressive of the verb to work in its Affirmative form has this structure:
Subject + past simple of the verb to be + [verb + -ing].
|SUBJECT||AUXILIARY VERB||PRESENT PARTICIPLE|
- Longer background action interrupted by a shorter one
- I was running in the park when you sent me that message.
- She was practicing sport when I called her.
- They were watching TV when she got back from work.
- Event occurring in an exact time in the past
- It was 9 o’ clock when I was running in the park.
- I called her at 11:45 and she was practicing sport.
- She returned from work at 7 o’ clock and they were still watching TV.
- Uninterrupted action in progress for a while
- I was running.
- He was crossing the road.
- We were watching TV during our break.
- Length of period of time in the past
- I was working in the bakery across the street last summer.
- She was practicing sports every day last year to prepare for the race.
- They were watching TV all day when they were teenagers.
- Past simultaneous actions
- I was running while she was walking.
- She was practicing sport while her mother was cooking.
- We were talking while the kids were watching TV.
- Sequence of actions occurred in the past
- I went to the park, the kids were playing on the grass, their parents were sitting on the fence and some teenagers were running.
- She went home and her mother was working on the laptop, her father was watching tv and her sister was studying.
- We went to the doctor today and while waiting, some patients were reading magazines, some were talking on the phone and the secretary was typing something on the computer.
- Repeated or annoying action (with always)
- I was always going late to the class.
- She was practicing sports every day for years to become a good athlete.
- They were always watching TV on high volume late at night.
We use the Past Continuous tense to talk about events or activities taking place in the past. We usually intend to show that they lasted for a long time.
Past Continuous is used in the following cases:
- A longer background action interrupted by an unexpected shorter one (something suddenly happens while another longer event was already in progress);
- An event that was occurring in an exact time in the past (expressing the date, hour or giving specific time information about an event in progress occurring at a past time);
- An uninterrupted action which is in progress for a while. (event in progress in the past during an extended period of time);
- The length of time period in the past. (event in progress in the past during an extended period of time);
- Past simultaneous actions (something happens at the same time with something else);
- Sequence of actions occurred in the past (usually used to describe a situation in which different events are happening at the same time);
- Repeated or annoying action (with always or similar expressions that suggest the idea of a repeated event).
We use the Past Continuous when we wish to talk about situations that occurred in the past and were in progress at every moment during a period of time. When used in its Affirmative form, something that was happening in a period of time in the past is confirmed.
The Past Continuous in their Affirmative form has this structure:
Subject + past simple of the verb to be + [verb to + -ing] (e.g. I was playing).
—”I was playing football when the phone rang.” = In the first part of the sentence we use the Past Continuous to talk about a situation in progress considered as a background action, interrupted by a sudden action that has to be expressed with the Past Simple.
> “I played football.” = In this case, using the Past Simple, the idea of an action starting and concluding in the past is expressed.
Let’s revise this content within the [Form] section. Take a look at the [Example] section that shows its use within a context.