past continuous

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past continuous by Mind Map: past continuous

1. FORM [was/were + present participle]

1.1. Examples: You were studying when she called.

2. Use 1

2.1. Interrupted Action in the Past

2.1.1. Examples: I was watching TV when she called. When the phone rang, she was writing a letter.

3. USE 2 Specific Time as an Interruption

3.1. Described above, the Past Continuous is interrupted by a shorter action in the Simple Past.

4. USE 3 Parallel Actions

4.1. When you use the Past Continuous with two actions in the same sentence, it expresses the idea that both actions were happening at the same time.

4.1.1. -I was studying while he was making dinner.

5. USE 4 Atmosphere

5.1. In English, we often use a series of parallel actions to describe the atmosphere at a particular time in the past.

6. USE 5 Repetition and Irritation with "Always"

6.1. The Past Continuous with words such as "always" or "constantly" expresses the idea that something irritating or shocking often happened in the past.

6.1.1. -She was always coming to class late.

7. While vs. When

7.1. Clauses are groups of words which have meaning, but are often not complete sentences. Some clauses begin with the word "when" such as "when she called" or "when it bit me."

7.1.1. Other clauses begin with "while" such as "while she was sleeping" and "while he was surfing. -I was studying when she called.


8.1. -The salesman was helping the customer when the thief came into the store. (Active)

8.1.1. The customer was being helped by the salesman when the thief came into the store. (Passive)