Today’s class is by Angela. She has prepared a great lesson on the past continuous. Below, you will also find extra information on when to use this tense.
To practice pronouncing this sentence, go to Today’s Class:
The past continuous has the following structure:
was/were + present participle
1. Interrupted Action in the Past
We use the past continuous to indicate that a longer action in the past was interrupted. The interruption is a shorter action in the past simple.
For example: “Jenny was waiting for us when we got off the train” – The longer action (was waiting) is in past continuous and the shorter, interrupting action (got off) is in past simple.
2. Specific Time as an Interruption
You don’t only have to interrupt with the past simple, you can also interrupt the past continuous with a specific time.
For example: “This evening, Jenny was still eating her dinner at 8pm” – The time (8pm) interrupt the past continuous sentence.
3. Parallel Actions
When there are two actions taking place in the same sentence in the past continuous, this means they are both happening at the same time.
For example: “Were you listening while Jenny was talking?” – Jenny was talking at the same time you were supposed to be listening. The actions are parallel.
Using parallel actions in the past continuous, we are able to describe the atmosphere of a place in the past.
For example: “Jenny walked into the office, the employees were typing, the air conditioning was blasting cold air into the room, the phones were ringing and the customer service team were talking to clients” – All these actions happening at the same time give us an idea of what this office was like. It’s a very dynamic description.
5. Repetition and Irritation with “always”
When something or somebody annoys us, we can use the past continuous with “always” and “constantly” to make sentences that express the idea that something irritating is happening all the time.
For example: “Jenny is always complaining” – We imply that she is constatly making negative comments and this annoys us.
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Have a lovely day!
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