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Language Tip: Past Progressive (Continuous) Tense


image grammarThe past progressive tense is created: be (in the past) + verb with ing.

Positive sentence:
We were dancing all night.
It was snowing all day on Saturday.

Negative sentence:
They were not (weren’t) learning enough.
She was not (wasn’t) playing well.

Was she studying at 5 p.m. yesterday?
Were they talking when you came in?


• to describe an action in the past which was in progress some time. The time is usually expressed by a time term.

I was preparing for my exam all afternoon.

• to describe actions which were in progress at the same time in the past.

While he was reading the newspaper she was cooking lunch.

• to describe an action which happened at one point-moment in the past.

At ten we were having breakfast.

• to express one of the two actions while one action is described by the simple past tense ( the shorter one).

She was reading a book when I entered the room.

• to express a background to the main action when we describe (write or narrate) action in the past.

I was walking down our street when I noticed two strange men. The men got on a bus and went away.

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