Unit 3.2

Past Continuous Affirmative

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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.


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


  • 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.


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).


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.

More exercises


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