Past Continuous Tense Material: Definition, Formulas, Example Sentences and Questions

Still continuing in progressive tense, this time Eduteam will discuss the past continuous tense. Just like the simple tense, the continuous tense also has a span of time. Among them; present continuous tense, past continuous tense and future continuous tense.

Previously, Eduteam also made an explanation regarding the simple past tense, You can first understand the simple past tense before learning the past continuous tense. So, in short, the simple past tense is used to talk about an event that happened in the past and ended in the past at a specific time. Sentences in the simple past tense are marked with a second verb (verb2) which shows the past tense. More can be read here.

This discussion also contains the You continuous tense. So for You who want to read through the explanation about the present continuous tense, click here.

The book Proposition 16 Tense Edition I by Polce Aryanto Bessies Ifoni Ludji Teresia Yanti summarizes the 16 tenses to make it easier for You to learn them.

If you have read and understand the two tenses related to the past continuous tense, let’s just study them together!

Definition of Past Continuous Tense

The past continuous tense is a tense that describes events that were happening in the past or events that happened in the past and continued until the second event occurred. For example:

I was eating when you called me

So based on the example above, I was eating when you called me. This means I was eating before you called, still eating when you called, and probably still eating after the call. The event occurred at some time in the past and is not happening at this time.

In understanding tense, you can try to apply it to everyday conversation, where the simple past tense itself can be used to tell about days that have passed. This book entitled The 1st Students Choice Changing Times Changing Tenses will help you in constructing the right sentence for a particular time.

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Past Continuous Tense formula

Example sentences:
They were studying when i came
She was not reading a book
Was she calling you yesterday? (Did he call you yesterday?)

Use of Past Continuous Tense

1. Events that started, are ongoing, and finished in the past.

She was watching tv at 14.00 (She was watching tv at 14.00)
They were playing football after school

2. An event that was taking place in the past, and was still happening until now when the second event occurred.

I was eating when he called me
They were studying when I came

3. Shows two events that happened simultaneously in the past.

I was eating while my brother was studying
Diane was watching tv while Andy was sleeping (Diane was watching tv while Andy was sleeping)

Time Description Past Continuous Tense

  • While : While

Adverb of time used to show activities that are carried out simultaneously at one time.
example: I was eating while my brother was studying (I was eating while my brother was studying)

  • When : When

Description of time used to indicate activities with specific time.
example: They were studying when i came

Examples of Past Continuous Tense Questions

1. We didn’t go out because it . . . .
A. is raining

B. rains

C. was raining

D. raining

Discussion:
This sentence uses two types of tenses, namely past tense and past continuous. The writer and the others did not go out because it was raining. So, the correct verb is ‘was raining’.

2. Last night I . . . TV when suddenly I heard a scream.
A. watch

B. watching

C. am watching

D. was watching

Discussion:
This sentence also contains two types of tenses, namely past tense and past continuous. The writer was watching TV when suddenly he heard a scream. So, the correct verb is ‘was watching’.

3. My sister was watering flower … you came.

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A. When

B. While

C. But

d. And

Discussion: In this sentence there are two activities, namely my sister who was watering when you came. The conjunction that means when in English is when.

4. From the sounds it was clear that Mary _______(practice the piano)

A. was practicing

B. were practicing

C. was practicing

D. were practicing

Discussion: If there are two activities that appear to be at the same time, but you can tell which one happened first, then the activity that happened before uses the past continuous tense. Meanwhile, the activity that happened recently is the simple past tense. As an example of this sentence, no sound can be heard if Mary is not practicing the piano, so “Mary is practicing the piano” is the activity that occurs first.

5. Dicky : I called you last night but there was no answer. Where were you?

Vera: Sorry. I … when you called me last night.

A. Sleep

B. Sleep

C. Am sleeping

D. Was sleeping

Discussion:

Dicky asked Vira where Vira was when Dicky called the grave. When she was called, Vira was doing sesyaty > past continuous tense (declaring an action that had started and was still going on when another action followed in the past), so S+was/were+V-ing was used. Because the subject is I, the to be used is was.

In conclusion, the past continuous tense is used to talk about something that “was happening or was going on” in the past. In addition, the Past continuous tense is often used together with the past tense in one sentence to express an event/event that occurred in the middle of an event/other event.