Past Continuous Tense in English – Structure, Rules & Examples

In the previous unit, we have discussed the Past Indefinite Tense in detail. We assume that you have learned the forms of verbs and their meanings in this unit and are also aware of What is Tense. if not, please click these links and learn them first.

Before going ahead, we would like to remind you that Past Continuous Tense is also known as Past Progressive Tense. This tense tells about the action (e.g. eating, walking, dancing, sleeping, etc) which was happening continuously in the past. e.g. you were browsing the internet before landing on this article. So this action was in Past Continuous Tense.

In Hindi and Urdu, Past Continuous Tense ends with raha tha, rahi thi, rahe the. 

e.g. mein tenses parh raha tha, mein apna phone chala raha tha etc.

We use was/were and the Present Participle Form or the -ing form of Verb (e.g running, walking, reading, eating, talking, etc).

Rule 1

In Past Continuous Tense, we use “was” with “I, He, She, It and Name” and “present participle form” (-ing form) of the verb. e.g.

Here are some more examples to help you understand this.

  1. Ranu Mondal was singing a song. (Ranu Mondal gana ga rahi thi)
  2. He was downloading the movie. (Wo movies download kr raha tha)
  3. She was buying a new phone. (Wo naya phone khareed rahi thi)
  4. It was raining here. (Yaha barish ho rahi thi)
  5. Dhinchak Pooja was singing a rap. (Dhinchak Pooja rap ga rahi thi)
  6. was watching Sacred Games 2. (mein sacred games dekh raha tha)
  7. He was buying a mature bag. (Wo mature bag khareed raha tha)
  8. She was making a Tiktok video. (Wo Tiktok video bana rahi thi)
  9. It was working then. (ye tab kaam kar raha tha)
  10. He was listening to songs on Coke Studio. (Wo Coke Studio par gaane sun raha haitha)
  11. She was making monkey faces on Snapchat. (Wo Snapchat par bandariya ki shakal bana rehi thi)
  12. was talking to my future husband. (mein apne hone vale pati se baat kr rahi thi)

Rule 2

We use “were” with We, You and They and Present Participle Form (-ing form) of the Verb. e.g.

Here are some more examples to help you understand this.

  1. We were creating a new group on WhatsApp. (Hum WhatsApp par naya group bana rahe the)
  2. You were telling lies. (Ap jhoot bol rahe the)
  3. They were playing PUBG. (Wo PUBG Khel Rahe the)
  4. We were selling Pakodas. (Hum pakodey bech rahe the)
  5. You were cooking rice. (Ap khana bana rahe the)
  6. They were asking questions. (Wo sawaal pooch rahe the)
  7. We were running(Hum bhaag rahe the)
  8. They were sitting(We beth rahe the)
  9. You were crying(Ap ro rahe the)
  10. We were dancing(Hum naach rahe the)

Rule 3

While forming questions in Past Continuous Tense, we bring was and were before I/We/You/They/He/She/It/Name. e.g.

Here are some more examples to help you understand this.

  1. Was Ranu Mondal singing a song? (Kya Ranu Mondal gana ga rahi thi?
  2. Was he downloading the movie? (Kya Wo movies download kr raha tha?)
  3. Was she buying a new phone? (kya wo naya phone khareed rahi thi?)
  4. Was it raining here? (Kya yaha barish ho rahi thi?)
  5. Were we creating a new group on WhatsApp? (Kya hum WhatsApp par naya group bana rahe the?)
  6. Were you telling lies? (Kya ap jhoot bol rahe the?)
  7. Were they playing PUBG? (Kya wo PUBG Khel Rahe the?)


So, let us just memorize what we have learned.

  1. In Past Continuous Tense, we use the Present Participle Form (-ing form) of Verb.
  2. We use was and were.
  3. was is used with I, He, She, It and Name of a person. (e.g. I was, He was ____, She was ____, It was ____, Sumaiyah was ______).
  4. were is used with You, We and They. (You were ____, We were ____, They were ____).

Play Quiz

Play Quiz on Past Continuous Tense