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Subject + was/were + gerund + object

The past continuous has no unique conjugations. It uses the past of to be plus the gerund and follows the spelling rules for gerund structures.

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We use the Past Continuous to:

  • talk about something happening at a particular moment in the past

I was walking to school yesterday

We were planning our holiday in March

A Past Continuous action is often used in combination with another action, as the Past Continuous is used to express the background action, what was happening when  something else happened. This is often called the long action.

Action A) I was walking to school


Action B) I saw the accident

Action A the "long action  or "background action" is interrupted or unfinished when the "short action", or specific moment in the past occurs.

Narrative tenses: The Past Continuous is often referred to as a narrative tense, these are the past structures we use to tell stories. 

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Related topics

Differences between Past Simple and Past Continuous here

Further Functions for the Past Continuous can be found here

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