Tenses & Timelines: Continuous Form-Past*

Tenses & Timelines: Past Continuous

April 4, 2019

Native English Instructor

Written by Douglas Shaw

The past continuous tense is used for an action that was happening for a length of time in the past when another action happened in the middle of it. In other words, it expresses an unfinished or incomplete action in the past(I was doing):

Past Cont

Question form


  • What were the doing yesterday? They were shopping all day.

Particular point in time

  • What were you doing at 7:00 p.m last night? I was watching a movie.

Activity frequently taking place over a period of time

  • What did you do on holiday? I went diving a lot.


Forming past continuous.

Quite often the past continuous is mixed with the simple past to show what was happening when something happened. The past continuous refers to the longer event and the simple past refers to the event that interrupted it.


  • I was riding Busway to work when the bus crashed into a car.

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