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Past Continuous Tense

What is the present continuous tense with examples? How do you form present continuous? What is the difference between present simple and present continuous?

The Past Continuous Tense

1) We use the past continuous when we describe a situation, or several situations in progress, happening at the same time in the past. This is often contrasted with a sudden event in the past simple.

[I was working on my computer and my brother was reading a book]1 [when we heard a loud bang on the door]2. 1 – background situation, 2 – sudden event
2) The past continuous is formed with the past form of the auxiliary verb to be and the -ing form of the main verb. Questions are formed by inverting the subject and the auxiliary verb to be. Negatives are formed with the auxiliary verb to be + not. This is contracted in speech and informal writing.

(+) Jim was playing playing video games all night.

(-) Jim was not playing video games all night./He wasn’t playing video games all night.

(?) Was Jim playing video games all night? Why was he playing video games all night?

Some time markers can emphasize the duration of the action or state when the action was taking place. These time markers are at 7 o’clock, for two hours, in January, last week, all night etc.

Kate was trying to find a nice apartment in her area for 5 months.

We can use when or while with the past continuous to mean ‘during the time that’.

While they were waiting for the train, it started to rain.
James broke his finger when he was playing basketball.

Remember that non-continuous verbs (e.g. to love, hate, know, want etc.) are not used in any continuous tenses. Use the past simple instead.

I was having fun at the party, but Kim was wanting to go home. I was having fun at the party, but Kim wanted to go home.

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