Past continuous: I was doing …

  • Auteur/autrice de la publication :
  • Post category:grammar

Past continuous: I was doing …

Past Continuous is about an action, an activity in the past.
Past Simple is about a past event as a simple fact !
Past Continuous is about the past events, BUT with a continuing process of an activity.
I was just making some coffee.
I was thinking about you last night.
While I was driving home, my wife was trying to contact me.

Past Continuous is used to describe an action in the past when something else happened.
I was playing the piano when I heard the phone.
We were walking in the street when he suddenly fell over.
We were talking about you before you arrived.

to be past form (was/were) + infinitive + -ing


I was doing
you were doing
he, she, it was doing
we were doing
you were doing
they were doing 
I wasn’t doing
you weren’t doing
he wasn’t doing
we weren’t doing
you weren’t doing
they weren’t doing

Situation in the past:
Yesterday, i worked. I arrived at the office at 9.00 am, and finished at 6.00 pm.
So, yesterday, at 11.00 am, I was working.
9.00 ———> 11.00———> 18.00 ———-> Today
Past —–—-> Past———–> Past ———-> Now

I was doing sth at 11.00
I started / I finished doing sth
Past Continuous: I was doing something:
That means at a certain period, I was in the middle of an action.
The situation started before this time, in the past, and had not finished.
USE: we use the Past Continuous when the action is not finished.
I was doing something when Peter called me.

Past simple: (-ed) : Action is in the past , but finished!
Past continuous: (was/were + Infinitive + ing) : Action is in the past, but not finished.
I was walking when somebody asked me the time.
I was taking a bath when the phone rang. (ring, rang, rung)
I was watching the soccer on TV when my wife arrived.
We were eating when our grand parents rang us.

I walked home after the party last night. (the activity is finished!)
I watched TV everyday when I was at the hospital. (the activity is finished!)
Non-continuous Verbs:
Non-continuous Verbs are not used with the Past Continuous.
These verbs are « stative », about state, and not real action or activity.
So, they can’t express a continuous or progressive form.

Here, we present you the most common non-continuous verbs:

Feeling:have, like, love, hate,
prefer, want, desire, wish
Senses:appear, feel, hear, see, seem,
smell, sound, taste,
Communication:agree / disagree, deny, mean,
promise, satisfy, surprise,
Thinking:believe, doubt, imagine, forget,
know, mean, 
notice, realize,
recognize, remember, understand,
Others state:be, belong, concern, depend,
involve, matter, 
need, owe, own, possess.

Notice: with SEE & HEAR, we often use CAN:
I can see you.
I can’t hear you.

We don’t use the continuous form with these verbs, because ther’s not a real action.
Look differences:

= receive sound in your ears
= we don’t do any action.
= continuous form IMPOSSIBLE.

= we try to hear
= we’re doing an action (we try)
= continuous form POSSIBLE.