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Past Continuous Tense: Past Continuous #1

Dennis Oliver
The Past Continuous Tense #1

There are several continuous tenses in English, and all
of them are similar in form: they use a form of BE + the
-ing form of another verb. The uses of all the continuous
tenses are similar but not exactly the same--and of course
they are used for different times.

To understand past continuous tense better, let's take
a look at its form.

Past Continuous Tense: Form

The present continuous tense always has two parts:

1. BE in past (waswere);
2. verb ending in -ing.


He was studying.
They were arguing.
It was raining.
You were reading the newspaper.
was using my computer.


Special Notes:


Although contractions with amis, and are are
commonly used, there are no contractions for
affirmative was or were:

I am ---> I'm
I was ---> no contraction

she is ---> she's
she was ---> no contraction

they are ---> they're
they were ---> no contraction


Although there are no affirmative contractions for
was or were, negative contractions for these forms
of BE are very common:

I was not listening. --->
wasn't listening.

She was not paying attention. --->
wasn't paying attention.

They were not concentrating. --->
weren't concentrating.


Contractions with amis, and are are commonly
used when the subject is a noun--especially when
the subject means he, she, or it, but there are no
contractions when was or were is used in this way:

Bob is sleeping. ---> Bob's sleeping.
Bob was sleeping. ---> no contraction

María is watching TV. ---> Maria's watching TV.
María was watching TV. ---> no contraction

The bell is ringing. ---> The bell's ringing.
The bell was ringing. ---> no contraction


Some people use the term past progressive
tense instead of past continuous tense.


It is actually more accurate to say that sentences
like "I was using my computer to make these
examples" are in past tense and show the
progressive aspect.


Next: uses of the past continuous tense
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