Past Continuous


Positive Subject + was/ were + verb-ing
Negative Subject + was not (wasn’t)/ were not (weren’t) + verb-ing
Question Was/ Were + subject + verb-ing…?


I was reading a book when she came yesterday.

At 8 o’clock last night she wasn’t taking a shower.

Were you smoking when we stopped at the store last night?


We use the past continuous to talk about the past:

 for something which continued before and after another action


The children were doing their homework when I got home.

When he was walking to school yesterday, he met his old friend.

 for something that happened before and after a particular time At last night she was writing a letter.

In July she was working in McDonald’s.

to show that something continued for some time My head was aching.

Everyone was shouting.The sun was shining all day yesterday. We were staying in the country from June to August last year.

for something that was happening again and again was walking every day, three times a day.

They were meeting secretly after school.

They were always quarrelling.

 with verbs which show change or growth The children were growing up quickly.

Her English was improving.

My hair was going grey.

The town was changing quickly.


  1. Use your own ideas to complete these sentences. Use the past continuous.

a. Tom burnt his hand while he was cooking the dinner.

b. The doorbell rang while I —

c. We saw an accident while we —

d. Mary fell asleep while she —

e. The television was on but nobody —


b. was having a shower.

c. were waiting for the bus.

d. was reading the paper.

e. was watching it.

  1. Put the verbs into the correct form, past continuous or past simple.

a. I saw (see) Sue in town yesterday but she was looking (look) the other way.

b. I — (meet) Tom and Ann at the airport a few weeks ago. They — (go) to Berlin and I — (go) to Madrid. We — (have) a chat while we — (wait) for our flights.

c. I — (cycle) home yesterday when suddenly a man — (step) out into the road in front of me. I — (go) quite fast but luckily I — (manage) to stop in time and — (not/hit) him.


b. met … were going … was going … had … were waiting/waited

c. was cycling … stepped … was going … managed … didn’t hit

  1. Put the verbs into the correct form, past continuous or past simple.

a. Jane was waiting (wait) for me when I arrived (arrive).

b. ‘What — (you/do) this time yesterday?’ ‘I was asleep.’

c. ‘— (you/go) out last night?’ ‘No, I was too tired.’

d. ‘Was Carol at the party last night?’ ‘Yes, she — (wear) a really nice dress.’

e. How fast — (you/drive) when the accident — (happen)?

f. John — (take) a photograph of me while I — (not/look).

g. We were in a very difficult position. We — (not/know) what to do.

h. I haven’t seen Alan for ages. When I last — (see) him, he — (try) to find a Job in London.

i. I — (walk) along the street when suddenly I — (hear) footsteps behind me. Somebody — (follow) me. I was frightened and I — (start) to run.

j. When I was young, I — (want) to be a bus driver.


b. were you doing

c. Did you go

d. was wearing (wore is also possible)

e. were you driving … happened

f. took … wasn’t looking

g. didn’t know

h. saw … was trying

i. was walking … heard … was following … started

j. wanted


The information we used is collected from different sources on the Internet and in English coursebooks.


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