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Past Progressive (Past Continuous)

The past progressive puts emphasis on the course of an action in the past.


I / he / she / it I was speaking. I was not speaking. Was I speaking?
you / we / they You were speaking. You were not speaking. Were you speaking?

Exceptions in Spelling

Exceptions in spelling when adding ingExample
final e is dropped (but: ee is not changed) come – coming
(but: agree – agreeing)
after a short, stressed vowel, the final consonant is doubled sit – sitting
l as final consonant after a vowel is doubled (in British English) travel – travelling
final ie becomes y lie – lying

Use of Past Progressive

  • puts emphasis on the course of an action in the past

    Example: He was playing football.

  • two actions happening at the same time (in the past)

    Example: While she was preparing dinner, he was washing the dishes.

  • action going on at a certain time in the past

    Example: When I was having breakfast, the phone suddenly rang.

Signal Words of Past Progressive

  • while, as long as

Exercises on Past Progressive


Comparison with other Tenses