Past Continuous Tense (Formula, Usage, Examples)

Past continuous tense expresses the actions or task that were ongoing in the past. We cannot determine when the action started or finished. For example, When I was walking yesterday, it started raining.

Signal Words

  • when
  • as long as
  • while
  • yesterday.

Structure / Formula

Subject + was/were + Present participle (-ing) form

He was drawing a sketch.
Subject Auxiliary verb Present Participle(ing) object

Positive Sentences

To make the positive sentences, see the following formula.

Subject + was/were + Present participle (-ing) form

Examples of positive sentences

  • He was traveling to Venice.
  • She was eating a burger.

Negative Sentences

We add ‘not’ after auxiliary verb to make the sentence negative.

Subject + was/were + not + Present participle (-ing) form

Examples of negative sentences.

  • He was not traveling to Venice.
  • She was not eating a burger.

Question Sentences

To make the question, auxiliary verb come at the start of the sentence and question mark at the end.

Was/were + Subject + Present participle (-ing) form + ?

Examples of question sentences.

  • Was he traveling to Venice?
  • Was she eating a burger?


To express actions that were ongoing in pastHe was playing tennis yesterday.
Two or more ongoing past actions at the same time.He was watching movie while he was was eating chips.
Time expressionHe was driving car at 05:00 pm yesterday.

Example Sentences

1. He was drawing the old man out of the ditch.
2. He was writing an interesting story.
3. Was he living in this house?
4. I was not reciting the national anthem.
5. John was traveling to Venice.
6. She was driving the car.
7. They were eating mangoes.
8. The naughty boy was not teasing the old man.
9. Was the hero fighting with cannibals?
10. They were not signing the agreement.

See also: Simple Present Tense( Formula, Examples, Exercise)

Past continuous tense formula, usage and example sentences
Past continuous tense

Passive Voice

Usually, passive voice of past continuous tense is made when the subject is not known. For example,

  • Mangoes were being eaten. (affirmative)
  • Mangoes were not being eaten. (negative)
  • Were mangoes being eaten? (question)

Structure of passive voice sentences,

Object + was/were + being + Verb(v3)