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Past Continuous Tense

  • Past Continuous Tense is used to mention an ongoing action of the past. It expresses past actions having an on-going nature. 
  • An action, that continued for some time in past, are expressed in Past Progressive Tense. This tense is also called 'Past Progressive Tense'.

Definition: Past Continuous Tense is a tense which is used to indicate the actions or conditions that were happening at some point in time in the past but have now finished. In other words, past continuous tense is used to describe or indicate actions that began in the past and were continuing when another event occurred. 

It is important to note here that there may be two actions going on at the same time in the past, and one was interrupted by the happening of the other. Thus, both actions have occurred in the past. 


Past Continuous Tense - Tenses, English Grammar Basics | General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering


Structure of Sentence


Main Verb: Present Participle (1st form of verb + ing)
Example: Sleeping, Going

Auxiliary verbs: “Was / Were”

Note

  1. If the subject of the sentence is “I, She, He”, or a singular noun, the auxiliary “was”  is used.
  2. If the subject of sentence is “You, they,” or a plural noun, the auxiliary “were” will be use.


Past Continuous Tense - Tenses, English Grammar Basics | General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering


Affirmative / Positive Sentences


  • Subject + Auxiliary verb + Main verb + Object
  • Subject + Were / Was + Present Participle (Verb + ing) + An object

Examples:

  • He was waiting for you.
  • She was writing a letter.
  • He was driving his car.
  • She was making preparation for the exam.
  • The dog was barking at them.
  • You were smiling to see me.
  • I was planning about my studies.
  • They were eating their food.

 Negative Sentences


  • Subject + Auxiliary verb + NOT + Main Verb + Object
  •  A subject + Were / was + NOT + Present Participle + Object

Examples:

  • I was not expecting such a foolish behavior from him.
  • He was not sleeping.
  • She was not washing her clothes.
  • They were not shouting.
  • You were not driving carefully.
  • The snake was not running toward you.
  • She was not decorating her room.
  • He was not reading the book.
  • I was not walking alone.
  • The kids were not playing with the toys.

Interrogative Sentences


  • Auxiliary verb + Subject + Main verb+ Object
  • Were / was + Subject + Present Participle + Object

Examples:

  • Were they going to their college?
  • Was he coming to his home?
  • Was she singing a song?
  • Were you asking me something?
  • Was I calling you?

  • Were the people shouting at him?
  • Was he listening to you?
  • Was she walking in the street?
  • Were you working in that factory?
  • Was I answering the question correctly?

Check Your Understanding of the Past Continuous Tense


Q. Fill in the blanks with the right form of the past continuous tense using the verbs given in the brackets.

1. Oshin _________ (prepare) dinner.

2. ______ he _________ (drive – negative) the car?

3. I ___________ (watch) TV when my mom came.

4. Sheela __________ (play) the lead role in the skit.

5. Yesterday, we _____________ (clean) the house when the guests arrived.

6. She ______________ (do – negative) what the teacher had asked her to do.

7. _______ you ________ (feel – negative) good yesterday?

8. I _________ (plan) to dance at my cousin’s wedding.

9. The train __________ (run) late by an hour.

10. We ___________ (go) to buy new clothes for all of us.


Answers: 

1. Oshin was preparing dinner.

2. Wasn’t he driving the car?

3. I was watching TV when my mom came.

4. Sheela was playing the lead role in the skit.

5. Yesterday, we were cleaning the house when the guests arrived.

6. She was not doing what the teacher had asked her to do.

7. Were you not feeling good yesterday?

8. I was planning to dance at my cousin’s wedding.

9. The train was running late by an hour.

10. We were going to buy new clothes for all of us.

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FAQs on Past Continuous Tense - Tenses, English Grammar Basics - General Aptitude for GATE - Mechanical Engineering

1. What is the structure of a past continuous tense sentence?
Ans. The structure of a past continuous tense sentence is subject + was/were + verb-ing.
2. How do you form an affirmative sentence in the past continuous tense?
Ans. To form an affirmative sentence in the past continuous tense, you need to use the subject followed by "was" or "were" (depending on the subject) and then the verb in its -ing form. For example, "She was watching TV."
3. What is the structure of a negative sentence in the past continuous tense?
Ans. The structure of a negative sentence in the past continuous tense is subject + was/were + not + verb-ing. For example, "They were not studying."
4. How do you form an interrogative sentence in the past continuous tense?
Ans. To form an interrogative sentence in the past continuous tense, you need to start with "was" or "were" (depending on the subject), followed by the subject, and then the verb in its -ing form. For example, "Were you playing soccer?"
5. Can you provide an example sentence using the past continuous tense?
Ans. Sure! "I was cooking dinner when the phone rang."
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