Past Continuous Tense: Definition, Useful Rules and Examples

Past Continuous Tense! In this section, we are going to be looking at the function of the past continuous tense as well as the rules which we must follow when using it.

Learn how and when to use the Past ContinuousTense(or Past Progressive) in English with usefulgrammar rules, example sentences and ESL printable worksheets.

Past Continuous Tense

What is the Past Continuous Tense?

The past continuous tense is one which is used very frequently in the English language and is made up of an -ing verb preceded by the past tense of the verb ‘to be.’ For example ‘the animals were running gracefully through the field.’ This is an easy concept to understand and once you have mastered it, you will be able to speak much more freely about the past.

Thepast continuous, or past progressive,tense describes an action or situation that began in the past and is still going on in the present time.

The past continuous is easily formed by pairing up the verb to be’ with averbending in -ed’ instead of -ing’ (e.g. was talking).

第二部分低于has some great examples of how to use the past continuous tense in actual conversation. After studying those samples, continue reading to the end for some practice choosing the correct form of this verb tense to complete a sentence. When reading a book or article, it is often a great idea to keep a dictionary or thesaurus at hand, especially when encountering unfamiliar orirregular verbs.

Past Continuous Tense Structure

The Past Continuous is used to describe actions that began in the past and often continued for a short period of time after the action started.

The structure of the Past Continuous Tense is:

Was/were + V-ing (Present Participle)


At three o’clock yesterday, Iwas workingin the garden.

Examples of the Past Continuous Tense

  1. My kidswere playingbasketball together for hours yesterday.
  2. My daughterwas planningto join the school band but chose the choir instead.
  3. Iwas talkingto my neighbor when she told me about the fire that started across the street.
  4. Our schoolwas holdinga pep rally when the fire alarm went off.
  5. Iwas not giving去年的慈善机构,但后来我收到工资and started contributing to the local animal shelter.
  6. While Iwas getting readyfor bed, I turned on the news to see what had happened during the day.
  7. My teamwas holdingan offsite lunch n learn but discontinued it when people stopped showing up.
  8. My brotherwas droppingme off at school every morning so I didn’t have to wait in the cold for the bus.
  9. Iwas hangingmore and more elaborate Christmas lights every year until I realized I couldn’t do anything bigger this year so I stopped.
  10. My friendwas sleepingover every Friday for three months during the Summer but then we had to stop when school started.

How to Use the Past Continuous Tense

The Past Continuous Tense Usage

The past continuous is used:

To describe parallel actions

过去进步通常是用来表示一个交流tion that was interrupted by an event,or for two actions taking place in parallel.


  • While Iwas washingthe dishes, I heard a loud noise.
  • While youwere washingthe dishes, Suewas walkingthe dog.To express specific Time as an Interruption

To describe what someone was doing at a particular point in time


Iwas workingin the garden all day yesterday.

That could also be expressed using thesimple past, asI worked…, which implies that the action is viewed as a unitary event (although the effective meaning is not very different).

To express interrupted action in the past

Often the past progressive is mixed with the past simple to show what was happening when something happened.


  • Iwas drivingto work when I crashed my car.
  • I watched a movie while Iwas flyingtoDubai.

To describe repetition and irritation


Hewasalwayscomplainingin class.


Forstative verbsthat do not use the progressive aspect, the simple past is used instead.


At three o’clock yesterday wewerein the garden.

Time Expressions Used with the Past Progressive Tense

  • When
  • While
  • Always
  • Constantly
  • At that time
  • In those days
  • All day
  • All evening
  • For hours…

Past Progressive Tense Charts | Picture

Past Continuous Tense! Learn how and when to use the Past Continuous Tense (or Past Progressive) in English with useful grammar rules, example sentences and ESL printable worksheets. Pin

Past Continuous Tense: Definition, Useful Rules and Examples 2 Pin

Past Continuous Tense Exercises

Instructions: Answer each question by selecting the right answer containing one or more words that best fill in the blank.

Verb Tenses in English

Learn all (12) tenses in English with useful grammar rules, examples and ESL worksheets.

Verb Tenses Chart

Last Updated on February 27, 2023

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