English Grammar: Past Continuous Tense

During our Business English courses, many people question the importance of grammar in spoken English, while some fervently support it. I guess this question can be reserved for other times. Today we are going to take a look at past continuous tense and its applications in spoken English.

Past Continuous Tense expresses the activities which were going on in past but have ended now, that are in present. These sentences are formed with the help of an auxiliary verb and giving the main verb an ‘ing’ ending.

Verb

In Past Continuous Tense, -ing form of the verb is used. Past form is transferred to auxiliary verb.

Make a statement

A statement in past continuous tense is constructed in following ways.

Subject

Auxiliary Verb

Main Verb

Object

You, we, they

were

cooking

food

I, He, she, it

was

cooking

food

You , we, they

were

not

cooking

food

I, He, she, it

was

not

cooking

food

Structure for a statement, in general, can be:

Subject + past form of “to be” + Verb-ing + Object (positive statement)

Subject + past form of “to be” + not + Verb-ing + Object (negative statement)

Ask a question

While forming an interrogative sentence, auxiliary verb precedes subject in general. The following can be used of past continuous tense in interrogative sentences.

Auxiliary Verb

Subject

Main Verb

Object

Were

you, we, they

cooking

food?

Was

I, he, she, it

cooking

food?

Were

you, we, they

not

cooking

food?

Was

I, he, she, it

not

cooking

food?

Now there are few situations where the past continuous tense is used.

Continuous actions in past

It states a continuous action which is either supported or is interrupted by any other activity of the past

  • I was bathing when you called.
  • I was doing household chores before I came in hostel.
  • I was reading when you dropped the ball.
  • He was completing his masters before getting into a job.

Simultaneous Occurrences

It describes any two activities that have occurred in the past simultaneously.

  • They were traveling in the bus when the flood broke.
  • It started raining when I planned to go cycling.
  • It was beaming with light when I opened it.
  • He was bleeding when I took him to the hospital.

Re-occurrences

It describes the occurring and re-occurring event of past.

  • He was doing the same mistake every time.
  • He was practicing the sum repeatedly.
  • The principal was taking frequent rounds.
  • The lever was going up and down repeatedly.

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply