In this English lesson we’ll take a look at how we use the past continuous tense when talking about things that we were doing in the past.

What Were You Doing When?

The past continuous tense is written with the past tense of the auxiliary verb be (was/were) and with the ing (present participle) form of the main verb.

We can use past continuous tense to talk about an action or event in the past that was interrupted by something. The past continuous describes an unfinished or incomplete action in the past.

past continuous example

Note: We use the past simple tense to talk about the shorter action that interrupted what we were doing.

We usually use when or while to connect the two actions in our sentences.

  • I was walking to school when it started to rain.
  • While they were sleeping last night somebody stole their radio.
  • The computer shut down while I was writing a lesson plan.
  • My car broke down while I was driving to Paris.
My car broke down while I was driving to Paris.

My car broke down while I was driving to Paris.

Your turn:

Have a go at completing these sentences below. Remember to complete the sentences using the past continuous tense. You can write answers using your experience or just use your imagination. Have some fun with these sentences! We just want to see you using the correct tense. Please post your sentences below.

  • Example – The man knocked on the door while I was taking a shower.
  1. The phone rang while I _______________.
  2. We _______________ when the thunderstorm started.
  3. While I _______________ the dog ran away.
  4. They _______________ when the music began.
  5. Somebody stole my money while _______________.
  6. I received your email while _______________.
  7. I _______________ when the fire alarm started.
  8. You _______________ when I came to see you.
  9. He spoke to me while _______________.
  10. I ________________ when I heard a loud noise.
We were playing rugby when it started to rain.

We were playing rugby when it started to rain.

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

Confucius