The past continuous is formed from the past tense of be with the -ing form of the verb:
We use the past continuous to talk about the past:
For something which continued before and after another action:
- The children were doing their homework when I got home.
- I got home. The children did their homework.
- The children did their homework when I got home.
As I was watching television the telephone rang.
This use of the past continuous is very common at the beginning of a story:
- The other day I was waiting for a bus when …
- Last week as I was driving to work …
For something that happened before and after a particular time:
- It was eight o’clock. I was writing a letter.
- At eight o’clock I wrote some letters.
- In July she was working in McDonald’s.
To show that something continued for some time:
- My head was aching.
- Everyone was shouting.
For something that was happening again and again:
- I was practising every day, three times a day.
- They were meeting secretly after school.
- They were always quarrelling.
With verbs which show change or growth:
- The children were growing up quickly.
- Her English was improving.
- My hair was going grey.
- The town was changing quickly.