For actions that were happening at a time in the past

How to make the past continuous

was/were …ing

When to use the past continuous

1. Something in the past that was happening, when another action happened (combined with the past tense)
2. An action happening at a particular time in the past (combined with time phrase, for example ‘at 4pm yesterday’)
3. Two events happening at the same time in the past (with another past continuous)

– examples

1.
a) I was still sleeping when he woke up.
b) Sorry I didn’t get your call: I was working.
c) The bus was driving through heavy snow when it crashed.

2.
a) I was playing football at 4 o’clock yesterday.
b) I’m sleepy; my sister and her friends were talking all night.
c) “Where were you last night?”
We were watching a movie at the cinema.”

3.
a) They were shopping while we were eating lunch.
b) They were all laughing while I was playing. It made me want to cry.
c) I was cooking dinner; meanwhile she was on the sofa, watching TV.

Exercises

1.  Make 3 sentences using the past continuous and past tense together (example: she was chatting to a guy when her boyfriend walked in)
2.  What were you doing yesterday at:
(i) noon?
(ii) 4pm?
(iii) 8pm?
3.  Turn these present continuous sentences into past continuous:
(i) I am playing the computer, and she is listening to a new CD.
(ii) They are singing while we are playing.
(iii) The phone is ringing, but I am busy washing the cat.