When do we use the Past Continuous?
The Past Continuous is used when we talk about something which was happening at a special time in the past. It is also called the Past Progressive.
1. actions were in progress around a time in the past
Susan was listening to the radio yesterday evening.
I was watching television at 8 o’clock last night.
2. two actions were happening at the same time but the actions are not connected we want to show they took place at the same time and lasted for a while.
Susan was watching television while Peter was playing a computer game.
Mary was cooking and James was reading the paper.
3. together with the Past Simple
While we were watching television, the telephone rang.
While I was having a bath, and my dad walked in.
- Past Continuous → were watching
- Past Simple → the telephone rang.
The action in Past Simple interrupted the action in Past Continuous.
4. repeated actions irritating the speaker (with always, constantly, forever)
Susan was always borrowing money from people. (I don’t like that.)
Past Simple → Susan always borrowed money. (Here I don’t give a comment.)
5. Signal words
to be (was, were) + infinitive + –ing
7.1. Affirmative sentences in the Past Continuous
7.2. Negative sentences in the Past Continuous
7.3. Questions in the Past Continuous