The Past Continuous

(or past progressive tense)

How can we make the past continuous? Firstly, check that you know how to make the past simple with 'be' (subject + was / were). Then just add verb-ing.

Click here to download this explanation as a pdf.

Click here for practice on how to USE the past continuous.

Here's the positive form:

  • I was sleeping
  • you were working
  • he was coming
  • she was reading 'War and Peace'
  • it was raining
  • we were shopping
  • they were watching a film

Next, here's the negative - it's very easy, just add 'not':

  • I was not (wasn't) sleeping
  • you were not (weren't) working
  • he was not (wasn't) coming
  • she was not (wasn't) reading 'War and Peace'
  • it was not (wasn't) raining
  • we were not (weren't) shopping
  • they were not (weren't) watching a film

Here's an exercise about the positive and negative verb forms

And, just like the past simple with 'be', to make a 'yes / no' question, put 'was / were' in front of the subject:

  • Was I listening?
  • Were you working?
  • Was she working?
  • Was he living in Paris at the time?
  • Was it snowing when you arrived?
  • Were we eating?
  • Were they studying?

To make a 'wh' question (of course) put the question word at the beginning:

  • Why was I working?
  • Where were you living?
  • How was she travelling?
  • Where was he going?
  • Why was it snowing in the summer?
  • What were we eating?
  • Why were they studying?

Here's an exercise about past continuous questions (both 'yes/no' and 'wh')

Mixed exercise 1 (includes all positive, negative and question forms)

Mixed exercise 2 (includes all positive, negative and question forms)