The Past Continuous

The English past continuous verb tense is used to talk about things that were in progress at a specific time in the past. For example, you will be able to use this tense to talk about where you were or what you were doing when an important event occurred, or to ask someone what they were doing during that event.


Read on for tips about how to form this fun storytelling tense, or

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Past Continuous Affirmative


The past continuous affirmative is formed by using "was" or "were" and the present participle (-ing form of the verb).

  • Examples: 
    • I was walking in the park yesterday afternoon.
    • The cat was watching birds through the window all day yesterday.

Past Continuous Negative

The past continuous negative is formed by adding "not" after the "was" or "were."

  • Examples:
    • I wasn't sleeping when Jane called.
    • We weren't planning to cook dinner.

Past Continuous Questions

Yes/no questions in the past continuous are formed by moving the "was" or "were" to the beginning of the sentence:

  • Examples:
    • Were you studying when your phone rang?
    • Was Frank jogging in the park?

Wh-questions in the past continuous are formed by placing the wh-word at the beginning of the sentence. The rules for yes/no questions still apply.

  • Examples:
    • Where was Frank jogging?
    • What were you doing when your phone rang?