I was writing this article when…
This is an example of the past continuous tense, often referred to as the past progressive tense. The past continuous refers to an action that happened in the past, and we use it to talk about something we were doing during a particular moment in the past.
We use the past continuous in the following situations.
The past continuous comes with its own specific rules. It’s formed using the past tense of the verb ‘to be; and the present participle of a base verb + -ing in its most basic form.
Subject + was/ were + present participle verb + -ing + extra information
The past continuous or past progressive is often used in conjunction with the past simple. This is because the past continuous leads itself to the question of when the action took place and what else was happening.
The past continuous is "was sitting," and the past simple is "began."
The simple past in this clause interrupts the flow of the past continuous tense, showing that something happened in between the action.
You can use conjunctions to connect the two clauses.
The past continuous can be formed into an affirmative statement. We’ve already given some examples, but let’s look at the affirmative past continuous sentence structure in conjunction with the past simple.
Subject + was / were + present participle verb + -ing + extra information
Past continuous can also be made into negative statements, where the past participle verbs, ‘was and were’ are negative.
To form a past continuous negative statement, we use the following structure:
Subject + was / were + -not + present participle verb + -ing + extra information
Note: You can use contractions, especially in informal language or everyday speech. ‘Was not becomes wasn’t and were not becomes weren’t.’
Affirmative interrogative statements ask questions. In the past, it’s used to gain more information about what someone or something was doing.
To form a past continuous affirmative interrogative question, we use the following structure:
Was / were + present participle verb + -ing + extra information + ?
Note: You can also add ‘what’ at the beginning of the question, but it’s not always necessary.
Negative interrogative statements also ask questions, but it’s assumed that the answer to the question is ‘no,’ or it could be a rhetorical question to which you already know the answer. Rhetorical questions are used for style and effect.
To form a past continuous negative interrogative question, we use the following structure:
Was / were + -not + present participle verb + -ing + extra information + ?
Note: Often, the negative interrogative in the past continuous is considered very formal and is used in fictional writing to add to a story or for rhetorical questions.
To round it all up, we’ve got 10 examples of past continuous sentences.
If you’ve enjoyed learning about the past continuous form, why not look at our other verb tense-related material?