The Past Continuous

The Past Continuous

We use the past continuous to talk about an action that was in progress at a specific time in the past.
I was playing tennis at six o’clock. (I started playing tennis before six o’clock. I continued playing tennis after six o’clock.)
We weren’t sleeping at eleven.
Was your dad working at eigfrt?

Отвечает на вопрос Что был делающим?


1) Говорим о действии которое продолжалось в определенный момент в прошлом (при выяснении того, чем занимался человек в определенный промежуток времени)

 What were you doing between 8 and 9 last Sunday?
I was eating breakfast.
I was swimming in the pool at 4 о ‘clock this morning. I couldn ‘t sleep.  
We were waiting in the blistering cold when he finally arrived.  
What were yon doing at 7:30 on Thursday evening?
I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was reading an encyclopedia.
I was killing mosquitoes at 2 о ‘clock in the morning.  
This time yesterday we were playing pool in my mansion.  

2) Говорим о фоновом действии, когда в предложении есть два одновременных действия в прошлом, одно из
которых процесс, а другое действие вторгается в этот процесс. 

The telephone rang  when we were watching TV.  
While we were driving from Rome to Milan, our bus broke down.  
I saw my school teacher when he was standing in the rain as a sandwich-man.  
He stepped on his glasses as he was looking for them.  

3) Употребляется в художественном тексте описательного характера

I was driving now through the narrow dirty streets of the eastern suburbs of Cairo. I didn’t know precisely where I was going.  

We use the past continuous to say that someone was in the middle of doing something at a certain time. 
The action or situation had already started before this time but hadn’t finished:

—  This time last year I was living in Brazil.
—  What were you doing at 10 o’clock last night?
The past continuous does not tell us whether an action was finished or not. 
Perhaps it was finished, perhaps not. Compare:

—  Tom was cooking the dinner. (past continuous) = He was in the middle of cooking the dinner and we don’t know whether he finished cooking it.
—  Tom cooked the dinner. (past simple) = He began and finished it.
We often use the past continuous (I was doing) and the past simple (I did) together to say that something happened in the middle of something else:
—  Tom burnt his hand when he was cooking the dinner.
—  I saw Jim in the park. He was sitting on the grass and reading a book.
—  It was raining when I got up.
—  While I was working in the garden, I hurt my back. 
But to say that one thing happened after another, use the past simple:
—  Yesterday evening Tom was having a bath when the phone rang. He got out of the bath and answered the phone.
—  When Tom arrived, we were having dinner. (past continuous) = We had already started dinner before Tom arrived.
—  When Tom arrived, we had dinner. (past simple) = Tom arrived and then we had dinner.
• We often use the past simple and past continuous together, to talk about something that happened while another action was in progress.
• We use the past continuous for the long action, the action that was in progress. We use the past simple for the shorter action.
They were going home when we saw them.
It was snowing when I got up this morning.
• We often use when before the shorter action.
They were aping home when we saw them.
When we saw them, they were going home
• We can also use while before the past continuous when we talk about something that happened while another action was in progress.
While we were watching TV, the phone rang.
• Be careful! We use:
when + past simple:
When the phone rang, we were watching TV.
while + past continuous:
While we were watching TV, the phone rang.

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