The past continuous

The past continuous is used in English to talk about actions or events that were in progress at some time in the past. It is formed with “was” or “were” and a present participle.

The past continuous

The past continuous

The past continuous is used in English to talk about actions or events that were in progress at some time in the past. It is formed with “was” or “were” and a present participle.

 

The past continuous

English uses the past continuous to talk about ongoing actions that were in progress at a certain time in the past.

The past continuous shows the action went on for some time but is now finished.

 

How to form

Some more examples

This time last week, we were hiking in Peru. 

He didn't go out because he was working late. 

When I lost my camera, we were swimming in the sea. 

The last time I saw him, he was washing his car. 

 

The past continuous for scene-setting

The past continuous is often used in storytelling to set a scene or describe a situation.

Example

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, and the birds were singing.  Children were laughing and playing in the street. 

 

The past continuous and the past simple

When English uses the past continuous and past simple together, the past continuous describes a longer, background action, and the past simple describes a shorter action that interrupts the background action.

Some more examples

He was sunbathing when it started to rain. 

I was mowing the lawn when you called. 

She was sleeping when the phone rang. 

I was having a bath when you knocked.