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12 Aug
ENG45  0

past continuous


past continuous (I was doing )

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Study these examples:

Yesterday Sarah and Jim played tennis. They started at 10 o'clock and finished at 11.30. So, at 10.30 they were playing tennis./Files/Articles/1097_en_tennis.jpg

They were playing = they were in the middle of playing. They had not finished playing.





Was/were -ing is the past continuous:



I was doing something = I was in the middle of doing something at a certain time.

The action or situation had already started before this time, but had not finished:



This time last year I was living in Brazil.

What were you doing at 10 o'clock last night?

I waved to Helen, but she wasn't looking.


Compare the past continuous (I was doing) and past simple (I did):

Past continuous (in the middle of an action)

I was walking home when I met Dan. (in the middle of walking home)

Kate was watching TV when we arrived.


past simple (complete action):

I walked home after the party last night. (all the way, completely)

Kate watched television a lot when she was ill last year.


We often use the past simple and the past continuous together to say that something happened in the middle of something else:

Matt phoned while we were having dinner.

lt was raining when I got up.

I saw you in the park yesterday. You were sitting on the grass and reading a book.

I hurt my back while I was working in the garden.


But we use the past simple to say that one thing happened after another:

I was walking along the road when I saw Dan. So I stopped, and we had a chat.



When Karen arrived, we were having dinner. (= we had already started before she arrived)

When Karen arrived, we had dinner. (= Karen arrived, and then we had dinner)


Some verbs (for example, know and want) are not normally used in the continuous:

We were good friends. We knew each other well. (not We were knowing)

I was enjoying the party, but Chris wanted to go home. (not was wanting)




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