Past Continuous Tense : English Grammar for SBI IBPS Bank PO/ Clerk Exams


Let’s first see some examples of Past Continuous Tense.

Tom was writing a book.
He was singing a song.
She was sleeping.
It was raining.
You were dancing in the rain.
We were going to the zoo.

Sentence Structure

Type of SentenceStructureExample
AffermativeSubject + was/were + V-I(-ing) + Object
* If the subject is singular use ‘was’, if it is plural use ‘were’
He was going to market.
They were playing  football.
NegativeSubject + was/were + not + V-I(-ing) + ObjectHe was not going to market.
They were not playing football.
Interrogative Was/were + Subject + V-I(-ing) + Object?Was he going to market?
Were they playing football?
Interrogative-Negative Was/Were + Subject + Not + V-I(-ing) + Object? Was he not going to market?
Were they not playing football?

When we use Past Continuous Tense ?

  • Used to denote an action going on at some time in the past. The time of the action may or may not be indicated.
    We were listening to the radio all evening.
    We were listening to the radio.
    It was getting dark. 
  • Sometimes used without reference to the past. In such cases, the time may be clear by the context.
    I learned Marathi in Nagpur. [When I was in Nagpur which was in past]
    I didn’t sleep well. [I didn’t sleep well last night]
    Mahatma Gandhi led the Swadeshi Movement. [at the time of Independence]
  • For past habits.

    He studied 6 hours every day.
    She always carried an umbrella!
    He never went to church.
  • Sometimes Simple Past and Past Continuous are used together when a new action happens in the middle of a longer action. Simple Past is used for new action.
    When he arrived. his wife was washing cloths. [Here, washing clothes is longer action and his arrival was new action]
    When I saw him, he was playing chess. [Here, playing chess is longer action and seeing him was new action]

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