The past progressive (also called the past continuous) is formed by using the auxiliary verb to be and the gerund (-ing):
Subject Auxiliary Gerund Predicate
John was watching his brother play soccer…
Sophie and I were standing at the bus stop…
You were having coffee…
I was wearing my favorite shirt…
How to Use:
We use the past continuous to talk about an action that was in progress (happening) when something else occurred in the past: (I was watching television when my mother called me.) It is not common to use the past continuous alone in a sentence: (
I was watching television.)
Instead, we use the past progressive with some form of a time indicator:
- an interrupting action (the past simple) – We were taking our dog for a walk in the park when we saw your cousin, Carl.
- a time phrase – At 9:30 last night, Damien and Letisha were driving home from New York.
- a concurrent action (also in the past progressive) – Bob was smoking a cigarette while Liliana was finishing her breakfast.