Past Continuous Explained – Formation, Usage and Grammar Practice (B1)

Past continous explained - formation, usage and grammar practice
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This is a free grammar lesson level (B1) available to ESL teachers to help them teach English Grammar easier. Below you will find detailed explanation on Past Continuous (Past Progressive) tense and see how to form, and when to use it. There are some exercises which will help you practice the current grammar lesson.
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Affirmative (Positive)

Subject To Be Verb + ing
I was babysitting my niece.
You were blogging.
He was cooking dinner.
She was ordering takeaway.
It was barking
We were arguing.
You were checking her homework.
They were smiling.
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Subject To Be Verb + ing
I was not (wasn’t) babysitting my niece.
You were not (weren’t) blogging.
He was not (wasn’t) cooking dinner.
She was not (wasn’t) ordering takeaway.
It was not (wasn’t) barking
We were not (weren’t) arguing.
You were not (weren’t) checking her homework.
They were not (weren’t) smiling.

Interrogative (Question)

To Be Subject Verb + ing
Was I babysitting my niece?
Were you blogging?
Was he cooking dinner?
Was she ordering takeaway?
Was it barking?
Were we arguing?
Were you checking her homework?
Were they smiling?

Negative Interrogative (Contracted Form)

To Be Subject Verb + ing
Wasn’t I babysitting my niece?
Weren’t you blogging?
Wasn’t he cooking dinner?
Wasn’t she ordering takeaway?
Wasn’t it barking?
Weren’t we arguing?
Weren’t you checking her homework?
Weren’t they smiling?

Negative Interrogative (Not Contracted)

Was I not babysitting my niece?
Were you not blogging?
Was he not cooking dinner?
Was she not ordering takeaway?
Was it not barking?
Were we not arguing?
Were you not checking her homework?
Were they not smiling?


We use past continuous:
[adrotate banner=”9″] 1. to talk about an action or a situation which lasted for some time in the past.
e.g. Last night my wife and I were watching TV.
2. When one action in progress was interrupted by another action.
e.g. Tom was reading a book when Jane knocked on the door.
3. to talk about many activities happening at the same time in the past.
e.g. Peter was washing the dishes while Sue was cleaning the floor.


How to form Present Participle (-ing form)?

Verb + ing Present participle
Usually go go + ing going
Verbs ending in – e take drop the -e, and + ing taking
one syllable verbs run double the last consonant and + ing running
For irregular forms there is no rule. These must be memorized.
Eg. lie – lying

Past Continuous Grammar Practice:

1. Write down the correct present participle.

e.g. stand → standing
  • sit →
  • play →
  • smoke →
  • breathe →
  • achieve →
  • marry →
  • control →
  • swim →
  • push →
  • win →

2. Underline the correct word.

  1.  I was/ were trying to make you laugh.
  2. He was/ were studying English when I called him.
  3. Vanessa and I was/ were travelling together.
  4. He was/ were running a catering business when we moved to town.
  5.  Kosara was/ were painting the walls, while we was/ were putting a new carpet.
  6.  My dog was/ were barking.

3. Put the words in order to make a sentence.

  1.  the wallpaper/ saw her/ changing/ when you/ yesterday?/ was Sally/
  2.  was/ a lot of/ drinking/ Shamik/ water/
  3. travelling/ was/ north/ family/ my/
  4. was fishing/ having/ Sunday/ we/ were/ a tea party/ on/ while/ John/
  5. looking/ were/ a new / car?/ you/ to buy/
  6. they/ were/ their/ homework?/ finishing/

4. Make a question.

e.g. They were watching a famous movie. → Were they watching a famous movie?
  1. Her heart was beating fast.
  2. We were celebrating our 30th anniversary.
  3. Their crew was filming that piece for quite some time.
  4. The detective was following a lead.
  5. Tobias was swimming quite well.
  6. My cat was hiding behind the door.
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