Past Continuous Tense in English Grammar

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Past Continuous tense in English grammar indicates an action or event continuing for a period in the past. We use past continuous to express a past action over a period of time, something that we were in the middle of then. It is the 7th part of the lesson All Tenses in English.

However, there is not so much for discussion on past continuous. We use this tense in certain places. Now, I will discuss the structure of past continuous along with its negative and interrogative forms. You should learn the structures of this tense in order to complete the classifications of tenses.

Before, I have discussed over Present Continuous Tense and you will get the similar structure in this tense except the forms of the auxiliary verbs.

So, let’s start the lesson…
Past Continues Tense Structure

Past Continues Tense Structure

Structure: Was / Were+(Verb+ing)

Notice these Examples:
I was writing a letter then.
He was making some baskets.
I was playing football in the field.
He was breaking the chair here.

So, you have got that in past continuous, the forms of auxiliary verbs: ‘was/were’ are only different. But the form of main verb is always (verb+ ing).
And, as you have studied before the usages of auxiliary verbs, here is same. You will use the auxiliary verb ‘was’ when your subject is (3rd person+ singular number). And in all other places, you have to use the auxiliary verb ‘were’.
Now learn the structures of both negative form and interrogative form:
Negative Structure: was/were not + (verb+ing)
I was not writing a letter then.
They were not playing football then.
Interrogative Structure: was/were +subject + (verb+ing) +object?
Was I writing a letter then?
Were they playing football in the field?
There is no variation in Past Continuous Tense at all. But in case of ‘Stative Verb’, the fact of (verb+ ing) is same. You cannot add ‘ing’ with the stative verbs in Past Continuous Tense. In that case, you have to use the structure of Past indefinite tense.
See the examples:
We are seeing the birds there. (Incorrect)
We saw the birds there. (Correct)Here, I am giving again the list of the Stative Verbs for your benefits. Try to memorize these verbs as soon as possible to ensure the correct usages of tense.
Stative Verb List
  • Verbs of the senses: feel, hear, see, smell, notice, observe, feel, look, taste
  • Verbs expressing feeling and emotions: admire, adore, appreciate, care for, desire, detest, dislike, fear, hate, like, loathe, love, mind, respect, value, want, wish
  • Verbs of mental activity: agree, appreciate, assume, believe, expect, feel, feel, forget, know, mean, perceive, realize, recall, recognize, recollect, remember, suppose, think, trust, understand
  • Verbs of possession: belong, owe, own, possess
  • Others: appear, concern, consist, contain, hold, keep, matter, seem, signify, sound
So, I would like to finish here this lesson on the Past Continuous Tense today. Hope to come back soon with the next lesson on tense.