Past Continuous Summery

Past Continuous Diagram

We use the Past Continuous when we talk about something which was happening around a period of time in the past.



We use the Past Continuous (blue) together with the Simple Past (pink). The Past Continuous is used for the action in the past which was in progress when a new action (Simple Past) happened.



Two actions which were in progress in the past do not influence each other.


Key Words

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

when – In this part of the sentence we usually use Simple Past. The Past Continuous is used in the other part of the sentence.


Past Continuous Use

The Past Continuous is also called the Past Progressive.  This tense is used when we talk about something which was happening at a special time in the past. past continuous

The Past Continuous tense in English is used quite often, especially when telling stories.

1 A continuous action in the past which is interrupted by another action or a time: was taking a bath when the telephone rang. At three o’clock, I was working.
2 Background information, to give atmosphere to a story: It was a beautiful day. The birds were singing, the sun was shining and in the cafes people were laughing and chatting.
3 An annoying and repeated action in the past, usually with ‘always’: He was always leaving the tap running. (In the same way as the Present Continuous)
4 For two actions which happened at the same time in the past: was watching TV and he was reading.