Past Continuous Tense

Past progressive or past continuous tense is a verb phrase that shows an action happening in the past. 

What is past progressive tense?

Past progressive tense is a combination of past tense of "be verb" (was/ were) and continuous aspect of the "main verb". 

  1. It was raining last afternoon. 
  2. We were waiting for the bus. 
  3. Some passers-by were walking on the street. 

FORM: [was/were + present participle]

Use of Past Continuous

1. Events in progress 

We use past continuous for events in progress around a particular time in the past. 

  1. I was studying at 5 pm yesterday. 
  2. They were playing cricket. 

2. Past interrupted action

When one shorter action comes in the middle of another longer action, we use the shorter action in past simple and the longer action in past continuous. The longer action functions as the background of the short action. 

  • The accident happened when we were going to school. 
  • While I was swimming in the river, a shark attacked me. 
  • As it was raining outside, we stayed in the room. 

3. While with the past continuous

We sometimes use while with the past continuous.

  • Yesterday at 7 o'clock, I was walking to school while my friends were riding in a rickshaw.
  • Yesterday at 8 o'clock, my friends and I were sitting in our classroom while Ms. Kona was teaching.

Past Continuous Tense Worksheet

1. Underline the past continuous tense in the following sentences. 

  1. I was studying for my final exams all night.
  2. She was dancing gracefully on the stage.
  3. While they were at the beach, it was raining heavily.
  4. We were cooking dinner when the guests arrived.
  5. He was playing basketball with his friends yesterday.
  6. They were talking about their upcoming vacation plans.
  7. The workers were building a new bridge across the river.
  8. While I was walking in the park, I saw a beautiful rainbow.
  9. She was practicing the piano for hours every day.
  10. The children were laughing and having a great time at the amusement park.
  11. The baby was sleeping peacefully in the crib.
  12. My dad was fixing the car's engine in the garage.
  13. While I was reading, my sister was watching her favorite TV show.
  14. They were hiking up the mountain when they saw a rare bird.
  15. The teacher was explaining the new lesson to the students.

2. Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the verbs in parentheses to complete the sentences using the past continuous tense.

  1. While I ---------- (watch) TV, my phone ---------- (ring).
  2. She ---------- (read) a book while her brother ---------- (play) outside.
  3. They ---------- (have) dinner when the power ---------- (go) out.
  4. The kids ---------- (laugh) and ---------- (run) around in the park.
  5. While we ---------- (study) for the exam, our classmates ---------- (listen) to music.
  6. He ---------- (work) late at the office when the storm ---------- (begin).
  7. While Jenny ---------- (cook) dinner, her husband ---------- (set) the table.
  8. The students ---------- (do) their homework while the teacher ---------- (explain) the new lesson.
  9. I ---------- (wait) for the bus when I saw my friend coming towards me.
  10. The cat ---------- (chase) a butterfly around the garden.

3. Rewrite the following sentences using the past continuous tense.

  1. She opened the door and entered the room.
  2. They ate lunch at the cafeteria.
  3. He played the piano while I was reading.
  4. The sun rose in the morning sky.
  5. We cleaned the house for the party.

4. Fill in the blanks with the appropriate form of the verbs given in parentheses using either the past continuous or past simple tense.

It (1. ---------- be) a sunny day yesterday. The birds (2. ---------- sing) in the trees, and the sky (3. ---------- be) clear and blue. While I (4. ---------- walk) in the park, I (5. ---------- see) my friend Sarah. She (6. ---------- sit) on a bench and (7. ---------- read) a book.

As we (8. ---------- talk), a sudden rain shower (9. ---------- start). We (10. ---------- run) to find shelter under a tree. The rain (11. ---------- fall) heavily, and we (12. ---------- laugh) as we got wet. While we (13. ---------- wait) for the rain to stop, Sarah (14. ---------- tell) me a funny story. I (15. ---------- enjoy) her story so much that I almost forgot about the rain.

After about fifteen minutes, the rain (16. ---------- finally stop). We (17. ---------- decide) to continue our walk despite being a little wet. The sun (18. ---------- come out) again, and we (19. ---------- feel) refreshed by the rain. We (20. ---------- see) a rainbow in the sky, and it (21. ---------- make) the whole experience even more beautiful.

When we (22. ---------- return) home, we (23. ---------- be) tired but happy. We (24. ---------- have) a great time despite the unexpected rain. As I (25. ---------- reflect) on the day, I realized that sometimes even unexpected events can turn into memorable moments.