Past Progressive / Continuous


Past progressive tense is used to indicate that an action was in progress when another action occurred in the past.

Past progressive (was/were + Ving) refers to the action in progress, and simple past tense refers to the "interrupting" action.

    While I was eating dinner, the telephone rang.

    The telephone rang while I was eating dinner.

    When the telephone rang, I was eating dinner.

    I was eating dinner when the telephone rang.

Past continuous can also be used to indicate only one action which occurred in the past:

    What was John doing yesterday?

    He was working at the factory.

    What were they doing yesterday afternoon?

    They were playing soccer.

    What were you doing last night?

    I was studying English.