Unit 3.2

Past Continuous Affirmative

Introduction

The past continuous (or progressive) is the tense used to express situations that occurred in the past and were in progress at any moment during a period of time.

When expressed in its affirmative form, the verb confirms that something was happening in a past period of time.

Form

The past continuous, in its affirmative form, has this structure:
Subject + was/were + [verb + -ing] + …

  • Was/were: past simple of the verb to be.
Subject was/were Verb + -ing
I was working
You were working
He/She/It was working
We/You/They were working

Example

  • was running in the park when you sent me that message.
  • I called her at 11:45 and she was practising sport.
  • We were doing our homework. 
  • was working in the bakery last summer.
  • was running while she was walking.
  • I went to the park, the kids were playing on the grass, their parents were sitting on the fence and some teenagers were running.
  • They were always watching TV on high volume late at night.

Use

We use past continuous tense, in its affirmative form, to confirm:

  • 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 at 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 was 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 (two events happened at the same time);
  • sequence of actions which occurred in the past (usually used to describe a situation in which different events were happening at the same time);
  • repeated or annoying action (with always or similar expressions that suggest the idea of a repeated event).

Summary

We use the past continuous, in the affirmative form, to confirm situations that occurred in the past and were in progress at every moment during a period of time.

When we use past continuous in its affirmative form, we start with the subject followed by was or were and the verb with -ing.

For example:
— “I was playing football when the phone rang.” = We use the past continuous to express a situation in progress considered as a background action, interrupted by a sudden action (expressed in the past simple).
♦ “I played football.” = We use the past simple to express the idea of an action that started and concluded in the past.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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