The Past Continuous/Progressive Tense (Example & Explanation)| English Grammar


The Past Continuous/Progressive Tense (Example & Explanation)| English Grammar

I. Form
1. Affirmative (+)

Subject + was / were + verb + -ing

Ex: I was working.

2. Negative (-)

Subject + was / were + not + verb + -ing

Use not after was or were. The contractions wasn’t for was not and weren’t for were not are not common in academic writing.

  • Ex: Colombia played a friendly soccer match against France last week. After ten minutes of play, it was clear that France was not playing well.
  • Ex: When I checked the score after halftime, the Colombian fans were not cheering anymore. The French scored two goals in the first half of the game.

3. Interrogative (?)

Did + Subject + Verb (bare infinitive) ?

To make a question, invert the subject and the form of “be”.

  • Ex: [It was raining] Was it raining very hard when Flight 822 made an emergency landing?
  • Ex: [Other planes were flying] Were any other planes flying near Flight 822 at that time?


II. How to use

Uses of the Past Progressive

  1. For an action in the past that was interrupted

Ex: We were working in the backyard when the dark clouds appeared.

  1. For an action that was happening at a specific time

Ex: At 6:00 p.m. last night, we were working in the backyard.

3. For background or atmosphere information when you are describing a scene or telling a story

When I walked into the classroom, I immediately became worried. The professor was writing tiny lecture notes on the blackboard, some students were napping in their chairs, and the class syllabus, which was at least 10 pages long, was lying on everyone’s desk