I was writing.
She was writing.
You were writing.
I was not writing.
She was not writing.
You were not writing.
Was I writing?
Was she writing?
Were you writing?
Uses of past continuous tense
To talk about past events in progress
The past continuous/progressive is used to talk about events that were in progress around a particular past time.
- ‘What were you doing yesterday evening?’
- ‘I was watching TV.’
- At 7 am this morning, I was doing my homework.
The past continuous is also used to stress that an activity was in progress at every moment during a period of time.
- I was resting all day yesterday.
Past continuous and simple past
We often use the past continuous together with a simple past tense. The past progressive refers to a longer background action or situation; the simple past refers to a shorter action or event that happened in the middle of the longer action.
- I was having a bath when the telephone rang.
- As I was driving down the street, I saw Peter.
- They were sleeping when the thieves broke in.
Past progressive and simple past: differences
The past progressive is used to talk about temporary actions or situations. For longer, more permanent situations we use the simple past.
- It happened while I was living in Mumbai last year.
- I lived in Chennai for ten years while I was a child.
We do not normally use the past progressive to talk about repeated or habitual past actions. The simple past is used with this meaning.
- I phoned him four times. (NOT I was phoning four times.)
- I rang the bell seven times. (NOT I was ringing the bell seven times.)
However, the past progressive can be used with always, continually and similar words to talk about things that happened repeatedly and unexpectedly.
- He was always bringing us nice gifts.
- I didn’t like him – he was continually making troubles.