past continuous – progressive

Past Progressive

Past Progressive – Use

1) actions were in progress at special time in the past

Peter was reading a book yesterday evening.


2) two actions were happening at the same time (the actions do not influence each other)

Anne was writing a letter while Steve was reading the New York Times.


3) together with the Simple Past

While we were sitting at the breakfast table, the telephone rang.


4) repeated actions irritating the speaker (with always, constantly, forever)

Andrew was always coming in late.


Past Progressive – Signal words

while


Past Progressive – Form

to be (was, were) + infinitive + -ing


Past Progressive – Examples

Affirmative sentences:

I was playing football. You were playing football.

Negative sentences:

I was not playing football.
I was’t playing football.
You were not playing football.
You weren’t playing football.

Questions:

Was I playing football? Were you playing football?

Past Progressive/Continuous – Use

The Past Progressive is used when we talk about something which was happening at a special time in the past. It is also called Past Continuous. Have a look at the following examples:

1) action was in progress at special time in the past

Peter was reading a book yesterday evening.
She was listening to the radio.


2) two actions were happening at the same time (the actions do not influence each other)

Anne was writing a letter while Steve was reading the New York Times.


3) together with the Simple Past

While we were sitting at the breakfast table, the telephone rang.

Note:
Past Progressive: were sitting at the table
Simple Past: the telephone rang.

The action in the Simple Past interrupted the action in the Past Progressive.


4) repeated actions irritating the speaker (with always, constantly, forever)

Andrew was always coming in late. (I don’t like it.)

Simple Past:
Andrew always came late. (Here I don’t give a comment.)

Past Progressive/Continuous – Signal words

Signal words tell you what tense you have to use. In the Past Progressive we often use a period of time. A typical signal word is while. The Past Progressive is frequently used in sentences together with the Simple Past.

while (In this part of the sentence we usually use Past Progressive.)

While we were watching TV, Andy was surfing the internet.

when (In this part of the sentence we usually use Simple Past. The Past Progressive is used in the other part of the sentence.)

The ladies were talking when the accident happened.

Form of the Past Progressive/Continuous

We use a form of to be (was or were), the infinitive of the verb and the ending –ing.

to be (was, were) + infinitive + -ing


Affirmative sentences:

I/he/she/it was playing football.
We/you/they were playing football.

NOTE: Use was with I, he, she, it –
and were with all other pronouns.

In affirmative sentences we do not use short forms in the Past Progressive.


Negative sentences:

I/he/she/it was not playing football.
We/you/they were not playing football.

We use short forms in the Past Progressive in negative sentences:

I/he/she/it wasn’t playing football.
We/you/they weren’t playing football.


Questions:

In the Past Progressive we put the auxiliary (was or were) before the subject
(Auxiliary – Subject – Verb – Rest).

Was I/he/she/it playing football?
Were we/you/they playing football?

Special verbs in the Past Progressive

1) have as a full verb
affirmative sentence negative sentence question
I was having a bath. I was not having a bath. Was I having a bath?
he, she, it:
He was having a bath. He was not having a bath. Was he having a bath?
we, you, they:
You were having a bath. We were not having a bath. Were we having a bath?

 

2) do as a full verb
affirmative sentence negative sentence question
I was doing an exercise. I was not doing an exercise. Was I doing an exercise?
he, she, it:
He was doing an exercise. He was not doing an exercise. Was he doing an exercise?
we, you, they:
We were doing an exercise. We were not doing an exercise. Were we doing an exercise?

We often use the short forms with these verbs

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