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11. Past Continuous

FORM 7

1 Introduction

The Past Continuous means that at a time in the past we were in the middle of an action.

2 Form

The Past Continuous is the past tense of be + an -ing form.

POSITIVE

I/he/she/it was playing
you/we/they were playing

NEGATIVE

I/he/she/it wasn't playing
you/we/they weren't playing






QUESTION


was I/he/she/it playing?
were you/we/they playing?

Soft music was playing.
People were walking in the park.
I wasn't dreaming. I really was in New York City.
Why did you give our secret away? What were you thinking of?
Was Matthew already waiting for you when you got there?

3 Use

Read this conversation.
Melanie: I rang at about three yesterday afternoon, but you weren't in. I didn't know where you were.
David: Oh, I was helping Mike. We were repairing his car. It took ages. We were working on it all afternoon.
Melanie: It was raining. I hope you weren't doing it outside.
David: No, we were in the garage. So I didn't get wet. But I'm afraid I got oil all over my new trousers.
Melanie: Why were you wearing your new trousers to repair a car?
David: I don't know. I forgot I had them on.

It was raining at three o'clock means that at three o'clock we were in the middle of a period of rain. The rain
began before three and stopped some time after three. We were working all afternoon means that the action went on for the whole period. David is stressing the length of time that the work went on.

We use the continuous with actions. We do not normally use it with state verbs. For states we use the Past Simple.
I didn't know where you were. NOT I wasn't knowing...

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