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Past Continuous Review

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How long has it been since you reviewed the past continuous? Do you remember when to use it and how it is formed? Here's a reminder of this tense and some exercises to help you check your understanding. Good luck!

When do we use the past continuous?

The past continuous is used in a number of situations.

1. To describe a longer situation that is interrupted by another action. The long situation is in past continuous and the action that interrupts it is in past simple:
"I was watching TV when you rang."

2. To describe action at a particular moment in the past.
"In 2010 I was studying for my masters'."

3. To describe two parallel actions that are happening at the same time.
"I was cleaning the kitchen while he was washing the dishes."

There are other uses but these are the most common.

How is it formed?

To form the past continuous use was/were + verb + ing
For example: "Caroline was studying for hours."

Lesson by Caroline

Complete the following sentences using the past continuous:

  • 1. I (live) in Cape Town then.
  • 2. I (swim) peacefully when I saw a massive shark that was swimming next to me!
  • 3. At that time they (work) in a local shop.
  • 4. You can't have been at home, I (knock) on the door for ages.
  • 5. I had to cut back, I (spend) over £200 a month on clothes!
  • 6. I think he (try) to be funny.
  • 7. I (start) to fall asleep when I heard a scream.
  • 8. She (cry) for hours, it was horrible.
  • 9. I think she (talk) about her house in Paris...I wasn't really listening.
  • 10. He (study) in New York but I don't know what he's doing now.
  • 11. They (drive) so they couldn't pick up the phone.
  • 12. You (snore) really loudly!
  • 13. They (wait) anxiously for their exam results.
  • 14. I (cook) dinner when his parents arrived.
  • 15. I thought you (take) out the rubbish.