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Past continuous tense

BEL260 KCS1102A Group 4 Sabri, Ali, Faez, Emy.

Verb tense background

Verbs change their form to allow writers to accurately describe events. Verbs alert the reader if the action is in the past, present or future.

Within these three main time frames, actions can be further broken down.

Past continuous
The past continuous describes an event at a specific moment in the past. Sentences using the past continuous usually alert the reader regarding the specific moment.

This tense is especially popular in crime and mystery fiction as well as memoirs.

We use this tense to talk about actions that were going on, or happening at a certain moment in the past. Example: At this time last Saturday, Ali was playing in the park with his friends.

Past continuous tense

We use the past continuous tense to describe a past action over a period of time.

Past continuous examples

The past continuous tense describes an event at a specific moment in time. Examples:
I was calling you when someone knocked at the door.
I was calling at the specific moment someone knocked.

We were working out at 6:30 a.m.

We were working out at the specific moment of 6:30 a.m.

Affirmative (Declarative) - I, He, She, It + was + v-ing I was studying. He was playing. - You, We, They + were + v-ing You were reading. They were sleeping.

Negative form - I, He, She, It + wasnt(not) + v-ing I wasnt (not) studying. He wasnt (not) playing. - You, We, They + werent(not) + v-ing You werent (not) reading. They werent (not) sleeping

How do I form the negative? Use the correct form of wasnt/werent

She/he/I wasnt doing her/his/my homework We/they/you werent listening to music

Question form - Was + He, She, It + v-ing? Was he working? - Were + you, we, they + v-ing? Were they working?

How do I ask questions?

Were you reading that book? Was he walking along the road? You can also use question words:

What was she doing? Where were they going?

Short answers - Yes, he, she, it + was. you, we, they were. - No, he, she, it + wasnt. you, we, they + werent.

Creating the past continuous

To create the past continuous tense:
Subject + auxiliary verb was/were + -ing verb

I was cleaning the kitchen when Jack called. Here, the subject was cleaning at the specific moment she was called by Jack.

Subject To be present To be past

he,she, it

is was

you, we, they



Non verbs (noun, adjective, adverb, etc)


Continuous (verb + ing)

Passive voice (past participle/verb3)

Be aware!
When phrasing a question in the past continuous tense, the auxiliary verb was/were should begin the question followed by the subject.
Were you listening during Mondays lecture?

Was I cooking when you arrived? I cant remember.


PAST CONTINUOUS-DESCRIBING PAST EVENTS Put the verbs in the Past Continuous tense.

Last night was hard. There was a blackout as well as a robbery. People in Smithville were upset. But what were they doing when the lights went out? A man 1._______________ (wash) the dishes while his wife 2._______________ ( give) her baby a bath. A blonde woman 3.________________ (wash) her clothes. Another woman 4._______________ (watch) TV with her husband and their children 5._______________ (do) their homework. A young man didn't realise the lights went out because he 6.________________ (listen) to music on his mp3 player. But why did the lights go out? The director of the power company claims that there was a blackout because it 7._______________ (rain) heavily but it is said that they 8._______________ (have) a party and they 9._______________ (not watch) the controls. One of the reporters, Bob, 10._______________ (wash) the dishes and Dorris, his wife, 11._______________ (have) a bath.

Jackie, Bob's colleague, 12._______________ (work) in the building. Now let's talk about the robbery. Burglars broke into all the apartments in the building when all the tenants were out. But what 13._______________ (they/do)? One of the tenants 14._______________ (wash) his clothes and a woman 15.______________ (visit) a friend. Another woman 16._______________ (have) a picnic at the beach and a man 17._______________ (play) tennis in the park. Two men 18._______________ (attend) a football game and a blonde woman 19._______________ (visit) her grandchildren. What a night!

Thank You!!!