Past Continuous Tense

The past continuous tense is used to describe actions or events that were in progress at a specific point in the past.

Here's an example:

"I was watching TV when my phone rang."

In this sentence, "was watching" is the past continuous tense form of the verb "watch". The speaker is describing an action that was ongoing in the past (watching TV), and this action was interrupted by another action (the phone ringing). The use of "was watching" indicates that the action was ongoing and in progress at the time the phone rang.


Subject + was/were + present participle(verb + ing form)

I + was + watching

He/She/It + was + watching

You/They/We + were + watching

The past continuous tense is not commonly used for certain verbs that denote a state or condition rather than an ongoing action. In such cases, it is more appropriate to use the simple past tense. These include:

Verbs of perception: see, hear, smell, taste, feel


I saw a movie last night. (simple past - preferred)

I was seeing a movie last night. (past continuous - not the preferred option)

Verbs of emotion: love, hate, want, need, like, dislike


She loved her new job. (simple past - preferred)

She was loving her new job. (past continuous - not the preferred option)

Verbs of possession: have, own, possess


He had a nice car. (simple past - preferred)

He was having a nice car. (past continuous - not the preferred option)


To describe an action in progress at a specific point in the past:

1) At 3 PM yesterday, I was working on my project.

2) He was watching TV when the phone rang.

3) They were playing soccer when it started to rain.

To describe two actions that were happening at the same time in the past:

1) While I was cooking dinner, my husband was setting the table.

2) The kids were doing their homework while the parents were cleaning the house.

3) The teacher was lecturing while the students were taking notes.

To describe a longer action that was in progress when it was interrupted by a shorter action:

1) I was studying for my exam when my friend called me.

2) She was walking her dog when she saw her neighbor.

3) The movie was playing when the power went out.


PositiveNegative"Yes/No" Question
I was talkingI was not talkingWas i talking?
We were talkingWe weren't talkingWere we talking?
You were talkingYou weren't talkingWere you talking?
He was talkingHe wasn't talkingWas he talking?
She was talkingShe wasn't talkingWas she talking?
It was walkingIt wasn't walkingWas it walking?
They were talkingThey weren't talkingWere they talking?