past continuous

Past Continuous


The past continuous describes an action or activity that was happening some time in the past. It also talks about temporary and short-term activities that were not always in progress.

Review: Verb Forms

  Forms of be: be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being  

We have seen how the verb be acts as a linking verb as well as an auxiliary (helping) verb of other verbs in the present continuous.

Basic Form of the Past Continuous with Was (I, She, He, It)

For the past continuous, the basic structure with was is

Dr. Tuominen/Our tour guide + was/wasn’t+ ing-form.
The librarian/His tow truck

Note: Was is the 1st and 3rd person singular, past indicative of be.


• I was entertaining some guests last Saturday.
• Wladyslaw was working on the problem till late into the night.
• Following the match, all the whole town was drinking, singing and dancing in the streets.

Form of Past Continuous with Were (We, You, They)

Cyril and Methodius + were/weren’t + ing-form.
Her roses/The ghosts

• The protesters were chanting slogans and waving placards.
• Bert, Louise, Ernie and Thelma were joking and laughing when the boss came in.
• Many vultures were circling high above the cowboys

Past Continuous in Yes-No Questions

Was/Were + Subject + ing-form?

Was I smiling? —> Yeah, you had a big, silly grin on your face.
Were many people crying? Everyone was crying.
Was Ginger practicing her piano lessons? —>Yes, for about an >hour-and-a-half.

Past Continuous in (WH) Open-Ended Questions

Q-word + was/were + subject + ing-form?

• Who were you talking to at the convention? The owner of a chain of discount stores.
• What was Ariel wearing at the festival? —> She was wearing faded blue jeans and a pullover.
• Where were Jinni and Harry picnicking last Saturday? —> At Crayfish Lake.

Answer or Respond to the Following. Include the Past Continuous

1. What were your great-grandparents/grandparents/parents/you doing when John F. Kennedy was assassinated? Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard that Princess Diana had died? When Michael Jackson had passed away?
2. Where were you and what were you doing on Halloween? Christmas? On New Year’s Eve? Easter? Ramadan? Your Birthday?
3. Have you attended summer camp? What was it like? What were you doing there?

4. Naoko and Sonoe were at the Mall of America last summer. What happened? What were they doing there?
5. Domingo, Guenevere, Siegfried, Scheherazade, Ye Xian and Yevgeny spend a number of years in Oxfordshire. What were they probably doing there?
6. Three years ago Man Yim and Hui Lan attended some courses at a success coaching workshop. What sort of activities did they participate in?

7. Mr. Schultz worked for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) from 1947 till he retired last year. What was he doing during his time there?
8. What was taking place in the Pentagon during the Cold War and Post-Cold War period?
9. What were Celestina, Sylvester and their friends doing on Friday and Saturday?

10. Etienne worked on board a cargo vessel for twenty years. What did he do? What was he doing during this time?
11. The mad scientist was spending most of his time in his laboratory. Why?
12. Jeremiah from Salt Lake City, Utah, USA spent two years in Hungary (he lived in Hungary for two years). What was he doing there?


Share Button

Email this page

Comments are closed.