past continuous (I was doing )
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.
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)