English Grammar – Past Continuous Tense

If the subject of a sentence isI, He, She, It or a singular noun” the auxiliary verb ‘was’ is used.

If the subject of a sentence is “We, You, or a Plural noun” the auxiliary verb ‘were’ is used.

In this tense the ‘ing’ form of the verb is used

The formula for past continuous (Positive) is Subject +Aux + V4(ing form).

Positive   Negative Interrogative
I was writing. I was not writing. Was I writing?
We were writing. We were not writing. Were we writing?
You were writing. You were not writing. Were you writing?
He was writing. He was not writing. Was he writing?
She was writing. She was not writing. Was she writing?
It was writing. It was not writing. Was it writing?
They were writing. They were not writing Were they writing?


This Tense is used to express an action that continued for some time in the past.

Example sentences:

  • I was waiting for my friend.                          (Positive sentence)
  • She was not planning about her studies.    (Negative sentence)
  • Were you calling me?                                 (Interrogative sentence)


We use the past continuous tense with the simple past tense when we want to show that one thing happened in the middle of another thing.

In this, the action which started first and continued for some time should be in past continuous tense and the action which happened in the middle should be in simple past tense.


  • While I was reading a book, the telephone rang.
          (Past continuous)                    (Simple Past)


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