We use Past Continuous to talk about an event that was in progress at a particular time in the past. We often use it with a time expression (e.g. at six o’clock, yesterday morning, last night).
Example: We were having dinner at eight o’clock.
We can use Past Continuous to say what different people were doing at the same time.
In 2009 Max was studying in Edinburgh, his sister was working in Manchester and his parents were living in London.
We often use Past Continuous to describe the situation at the start of a story.
It was Friday night and it was raining hard. Most people were walking fast to escape the rain, but Carla was standing at the bus stop. She wasn’t wearing a coat and she was getting very wet. Suddenly, a car drove past very quickly and splashed her with water.
Past Continuous or Past Simple?
We use Past Simple to talk about an event that finished at a point in the past. We often use it to talk about a sequence of events.
She got up, had breakfast and went to work. In the morning, Robert went shopping in town. Then he met his friends at the park and they played football. After that, he went home and did his homework.
We use Past Continuous to talk about an event that was in progress at a time in the past, or when another event happened.
«I called you at 7 o’clock. Where were you?» «I was playing basketball.»
She was having breakfast when her friend arrived.
We can use Past Simple and Past Continuous in the same sentence. We often use when and while in these sentences.
He was walking to school when it started to rain.
While he was walking to school, it started to rain.
We can use when or while with Past Continuous.
We cannot use while with Past Simple.
I saw Ben when/while I was waiting for the bus.
I was waiting for the bus when I saw Ben.
There are some verbs that we don’t normally use in the continuous form: e.g., hear, know, like, love, understand, see, want.
I wasn’t understanding the homework.
I didn’t understand the homework.
A young artist
Complete the text, then listen and check
Alex and Richard
Look at the information about Richard and Alex and write sentences
August 1999 — becomes a footballer
1999-2002 — plays professional football
June 2002 — breaks his leg and gives up football
January 2005 — starts to learn Chinese
2006-2009 — studies Chinese at university
August 2008 — goes to the Beijing Olympics
2009-2011 — works as a football coach in China
1998-2000 — studies at school
October 2000 — visits South America
2001-2004 — studies Spanish at university
2005-2007 — works for a company in England
May 2006 — finds a job in Mexico
2006-2011 — lives in Mexico
July 2010 — gets married
⇒ August 1999:
Alex became a footballer while Richard was studying at school.
Look at the pictures and write a story
Tom was walking to school. It was snowing. He was wearing a hat, a scarf and gloves.
He got on the bus and he…