Verb tenses – past – continuous

The past continuous is all about capturing the ongoing action in the past. It’s like a snapshot of a moment that’s still in progress.

Imagine you’re at a party, and you spot your friend, let’s call them Sammy, doing something absolutely outrageous.

As you approach Sammy, you exclaim, “Sammy, what on Earth were you doing?” And there it is—the past continuous! You’re expressing astonishment at the spectacle Sammy was creating, emphasizing that their antics were happening at that specific moment in the past.

The past continuous isn’t just a one-step dance. It loves to tango with other tenses too. Imagine you’re recounting a story about a magical camping trip. You could say, “The fire crackled, the stars twinkled, and we were roasting marshmallows while telling ghost stories.” In this sentence, the past continuous joins forces with the past simple tense to paint a vivid picture of that enchanting night.

So, when should you use the past continuous?

Well, anytime you want to highlight a past action that was happening in the background while something else was going on. It’s like the supporting actor in a play, adding depth and dimension to the narrative.

The formation of the past continuous tense is actually quite straightforward. To create it, you need two main components: the past tense of the verb “to be” and the present participle form of the main verb.

Here’s the basic structure:

Subject + past tense of “to be” (was/were) + present participle (verb + -ing)


  • I was dancing.
  • They were playing soccer.
  • She was studying.

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