Past continuous tense overview

The past continuous tense is used to talk about actions or events that were going on around a particular point of time in the past.

  • What were you doing at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon? I was playing with my daughter.
  • What were you doing at 8 o’clock in the morning? I was getting ready for school.
  • What were you doing in my room? I was searching for the car keys.
  • What was he doing in the garden? He was plucking some flowers.
  • What was Rani doing in the morning? Rani was doing her homework.
  • What was Sam doing yesterday evening? Sam was watching a cricket match on TV.
  • What was Meenakshi doing yesterday? Meenakshi was planting some saplings in the garden.
  • What was Dad doing in the garage? Dad was fixing his bike.

The past continuous and simple past tenses are commonly used together. In this case, the simple past tense is used to refer to the shorter  action that happens in the middle of a longer background action.

  • I was having (past continuous) a bath when the telephone rang (simple past).
  • We were having lunch when someone knocked on the door.
  • I was reading when the lights went out.
  • She was cooking dinner when guests arrived.
  • I was watching TV when Rahul called.
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