Past Continuous

The past continuous (or past progressive) is one of the tenses to talk about actions or events in the past. On this page, you have a clear overview of when to use this tense, how you form it, and some examples.

Past continuous (or past progressive) tense

The past continuous is mainly used for actions and events in the past when the focus is on the duration of that event or action. The action was going on at the moment you are referring to. Below, you can find some more information in which situations you should use this tense:

An action in the past when the focus is on the duration of that action

  • Yesterday, it was raining all day.

A long action in the past

  • I was working from 9 am to 5 pm yesterday.

Temporary situations in the past

  • When I was 20 years old, I was earning a lot of money.

A friendly request or suggestion

  • Were you planning on doing anything later today?
Past Continuous Use Taalhulp Engels

How to form the past continuous

Past continuous positive

To form the past continuous, you always need two parts. You need the past simple of ‘to be’ (was/were) and you also need the -ing form of the main verb. You get this form by adding <ing> to the infinitive. Every time you want to use this tense, you always need two parts: was/were + -ing form of the main verb.

I was walking
You were walking
He/she/it was walking
We were walking
You were walking
They were walking
Past Continuous Form Taalhulp Engels

When an infinitive ends in <e>, you drop the <e> and add <ing> if you want to form the -ing form.

  • To write: I was writing

Past continuous negative

To make the negative form of the past continuous, you use ‘not’ and put it after was/were.

I was not walking
You were not walking
He/she/it was not walking
We were not walking
You were not walking
They were not walking

Past continuous questions

If you want to form a question in the past continuous, you use was/were, followed by the subject and the -ing form of the main verb.

Was I walking?
Were you walking?
Was he/she/it walking?
Were we walking?
Were you walking?
Were they walking?

Time indicators

If you see this word, it’s usually an indication that you’re dealing with a past continuous.

  • While


I was working
He was singing
I wasn’t working
He wasn’t singing
Was I working?
Was he singing?

Past continuous exercises

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