Past continuous (I was doing) в английском языке
Study this example situation:
Yesterday Dave and Jim played tennis. They began at 10:00 and finished at 11:00.
What were they doing at 10:30?
They were playing tennis (at 10:30).
"They were playing" means that they were in the middle of playing tennis. They had started playing, but they hadn't finished.
This is the past continuous tense:
|I/he/she was |
We use the past continuous to say that someone was in the middle of doing something at a certain time. The action or situation had already started before thus time but hadn't finished:
- This time last year I was living in Brazil.
- What were you doing at 10:00 last night?
The past continuous does not tell us whether an action was finished or not. Perhaps it was finished, perhaps not. Compare:
- Dan was cooking dinner, (past continuous) = He was in the middle of cooking dinner and we don't know whether he finished cooking it.
- Dan cooked dinner, (simple past) = He began and finished it.
We often use the past continuous (I was doing
) and the simple past (I did
) together to say that something happened in the middle of something else:
- Dan burned his hand while he was cooking dinner.
- I saw Jim in the park. He was sitting on the grass and reading a book.
- It was raining when I got up.
- While I was working in the garden, I hurt my back.
But to say that one thing happened after
another, use the simple past.
- Last night Sue was taking a bath when the phone rang. She got out of the bathtub and answered the phone.
- When Helen arrived, we were having dinner, (past continuous) = We had already started dinner before Helen arrived.
- When Helen arrived, we had dinner, (simple past) = Helen arrived and then we had dinner.
: There are some verbs (for example, know
) that are not normally used in continuous tenses. For a list of these verbs see this