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  • Hi. Welcome to English Grammar in Use.

  • Short videos from Cambridge University Press

  • to help you improve your English.

  • My name is Anna

  • and today I'm going to be looking at the past continuous.

  • We use the past continuous

  • when we want to talk about an action

  • in the past

  • at a certain time.

  • An action that had started

  • but not finished.

  • Let's look at an example.

  • Yesterday, Karen and Jim

  • played tennis.

  • They started at ten o'clock

  • and finished at eleven thirty.

  • So,

  • at ten thirty

  • they were playing tennis.

  • They 'were playing'

  • means they were in the middle of playing.

  • They hadn't finished playing.

  • 'Was' or

  • 'were'

  • plus a verb with 'i n g'

  • is

  • the past continuous.

  • For example:

  • I was playing

  • she was doing

  • you were working

  • and so on.

  • I was doing something

  • means that I was in the middle of doing something at a certain time.

  • The action, or situation,

  • had already started

  • before this time

  • but hadn't finished.

  • For example:

  • This time last year

  • I was living in Brazil.

  • What were you doing at ten o'clock last night?

  • Let's compare

  • the past continuous

  • and the past simple.

  • Remember,

  • the past continuous is 'I was doing'

  • and the past simple is

  • 'I did'.

  • The past continuous is used when we want to talk about being in the middle

  • of an action.

  • For example:

  • I was walking home

  • when I met Dan.

  • This means

  • I was in the middle

  • of walking home.

  • The past simple is used when we want to talk about an action or situation

  • that has been completed.

  • For example:

  • I walked home after the party last night.

  • This means I walked all the way home,

  • so the action was completed.

  • We often use the past continuous and the past simple together

  • to say that something happened in the middle of something else.

  • For example:

  • It was raining when I got up.

  • Or, I hurt my back

  • while I was working in the garden.

  • But, we use the past simple to say that one thing happened after another.

  • For example:

  • I was walking along the road

  • when I saw Dan.

  • So I stopped and we had a chat.

  • Now let's compare two examples:

  • When Karen arrived,

  • we were having dinner.

  • This means

  • we had started having dinner

  • before she arrived.

  • When Karen arrived,

  • we had dinner.

  • This means

  • Karen arrived

  • and then

  • we had dinner.

  • It's important to remember that some verbs,

  • for example, know,

  • and

  • want

  • are not normally used in the continuous.

  • For example:

  • I was enjoying the party,

  • but Chris

  • wanted to go home.

  • We don't say, 'Chris was wanting to go home.'

  • That's all for today.

  • Now it's over to you.

  • Practise using the past continuous

  • by visiting englishgrammarinuse.cambridge.org

  • and registering for a free trial of English Grammar in Use Online.

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  • visit

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  • Bye for now.

  • See you next time.

Hi. Welcome to English Grammar in Use.

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A2 UK continuous karen english grammar action grammar arrived

English Grammar in Use: Past Continuous

  • 157 19
    Gordon posted on 2016/07/31
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