Continuous Past Tense

 Affirmative sentence

The sentence of continuous past tense tells that action was not completed in past time. In this tense, we use forms of ‘to be’ in past tense but which are those? ‘Was’ and ‘were’ are the forms of ‘to be’ in past tense. So, we use form of ‘to be’ in past with present participle in the formation of continuous past tense.

Formation of Continuous Past Tense

While forming this sentence, we should keep in mind that-

  • In this sentence, we use auxiliary verb according to the subject,
  • First person, singular number that is, for ‘I’ we use ‘was’.
  • Third person and singular number that is for he, she it: we use ‘was’.
  • For second person singular as well as plural we use ‘were’.
  • If subject is plural number, we should use ‘were’ that is for we, you, they or any plural number.

So, the formation is as;

Subject + auxiliary verb (was/were) + present participle of main verb + remaining words


Now we shall see some examples. In these examples you will have base form of main verb in parenthesis. Forms of ‘to be’ are according to the subject.

You can get examples of continuous past tense-

  • Negative sentences
  • Interrogative sentences
  • Negative interrogative sentences
  • Wh-questions

All of the following sentences are affirmative.

Have a look-

Verb- cook

In these sentences we have taken a verb ‘cook’. Now read the following sentences with three persons and see the use of forms of ‘to be’ in each sentence.

  • I was cooking for my kids. (first person, singular)
  • We were cooking for my kids. (first person, plural)
  • You were cooking for my kids. (second person, singular/plural)
  • He/She/It was cooking for my kids. (third person, singular)
  • They were cooking for my kids. (third person, plural)

More Examples of Continuous Past Tense

In following sentences, verb used in sentence is in parenthesis.

  • I was drinking lemonade. (drink)
  • We were solving a problem.(solve)
  • She was reading a book. (read)
  • He was sleeping on the plank. (sleep)
  • It was playing with the ball. (play)
  • They were playing cricket in the ground. (play)
  • You were eating an apple. (eat)
  • All of you were watching the movie. (watch)
  • They were cleaning their premises. (clean)
  • I was washing clothes in washing machine. (wash)
  • She was working on her project. (work)
  • They were discussing about the mishap on the highway. (discuss)

You may also like the related links-

Uses of Past Tense

simple Past Tense

Hi, I am Madhuri Kherde, an educationist, ex-principal of a secondary school in Mumbai, and founder of I have been teaching English and Mathematics for the last thirty-four years. I like to share my knowledge and experience with others. So I hope you enjoy my posts on this website.