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.
    Examples:
    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.
    Examples:
    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.
    Examples:

    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.
    Examples:
    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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