Past Progressive Tense – 10 Minute English Grammar

The sentence formation follows:

  Singular Number Plural Number
1st Person I was eating We were eating = We’re eating
2nd Person You were eating = You’re eating You were eating = You’re eating
3rd Person He was eating = He’s eating  
  She was eating = She’s eating They were eating = They’re eating
  It was eating = It’s eating  

Uses of The Past Progressive (Continuous) Tense:

  1. The past progressive tense is mainly used for past actions which continued for some time, but we may not have an idea about their exact limits. In other words, it is not important to learn the fact how long it went on. Look at the below-mentioned diagram:

. . . . . . ———————-. . . . . .

  • It can be used without a time reference; indicates gradual development.: It was getting difficult.   The temperature was rising.
  • It can also be used with a time reference; denotes that an action which began prior to that time and probably continued then after, too.
    • At nine I was having breakfast says indirectly that I was in the middle of breakfast at nine, i.e. that I started it before nine.
    • I had breakfast at nine would indicate that I started it at nine.
  • With when and while time expression:
    • When I entered the room, my cat was whining.
  • It is used in the indirect narration; a past equivalent of the present progressive tense:
    • Direct speech: She said, ‘I am leaving this place’.

Indirect speech: She said she was leaving that place.

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