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Grammar Terms
FCE practice

The Past Continuous


The Past Continuous has two main uses:

Actions in progress at a moment in the past - often a background to a story.

I was sleeping when the phone rang.

I was sleeping at 3.30am this morning.

Note: it is possible that the action continued (here, I didn't wake up). But, it is possible that the action was interrupted at that moment (here, I woke up when the phone rang).

We also use past continuous when two longer events are happening at the same time

I was thinking about my holiday while I was teaching my class this morning.

We use be + verb-ing to make this structure. Remember to use contractions (wasn't, weren't) when speaking.

I, he, she, itI was working.I wasn't working.Was I working?
You, we, theyYou were working.You weren't working.Were you working?

Advanced uses of past continuous

Annoying habits: We usually use past simple for habits/repeated actions. But, if you are annoyed/amused, you can use the past continuous with 'always'.

He was always losing his wallet!

The teacher fell asleep while she was marking homework.

Past Continuous Exercises

Next lesson: Present Perfect