Grammar Exercises: Past Progressive

The Past Progressive

The Past Progressive describes actions or events in a time before now, which began in the past and is still going on at the time of speaking.

In other words, it expresses an unfinished or incomplete action in the past.

Uses of the past Progressive

We use the past progressive to talk about actions were in progress at special time in the past

  • Peter was reading a book yesterday evening.
  • She was listening to the radio.

We also use the past continuous to describe two actions that were happening at the same time

  • Anne was writing a letter while Steve was reading the New York Times.
  • James was running from the police while Mike was hiding the drugs

When one event is more important than another in the past, we can use the past continuous for the background event

  • I was comig from the supermarket when I saw an accident
  • I was playing soccer with my friends when an stranger stole my bike

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, … 

The Past Continuous is with verbs which show change or growth:

  • The children were growing up quickly.
  • Her English was improving.

Temporary habits or habits that happen more often than we expect in the past.

  • He was always playing guitar in the middle of the night
  • She was always doing exercises very early in the morning

Past Progressive: Affirmative and Negative Sentences

These are some examples about how the past progressive is used to make affirmative and negative statements

AffirmativeNegative
I was studyingI wasn’t studying
You were playingYou weren’t playing
He was playingHe wasn’t playing
She was runningHe was running
It was workingIt wasn’t working
We were workingWe weren’t working
Thye were watching TVThey weren’t watching TV

Past Progressive and the Simple Past

The past progressive indicates a limited duration of time and is thus a convenient way to indicate that something took place while something else was happening:

Examples

  1. Carlos lost his watch while he was running.
  2. I was sleeping when someone knocked on my door.
  3. He was playing soccer when he broke his leg
  4. While we were sitting at the breakfast table, the telephone rang.
  5. When I was having breakfast, Somebody stole my  car.
  6. They were waiting for the bus when he dropped his phone.
  7. Jessica was running when she broke her leg.
  8. While we were sitting at the breakfast table, the telephone rang.

Past Progressive: Two Actions at the Same Time

We use the past progressive to indicate that two actions were happening at the same time

Examples

  1. I was eating dinner while he was drinking a beer.
  2. While she was preparing dinner, he was washing the dishes.
  3. Anne was writing a letter while Steve was reading the New York Times.

Questions in the Past Progressive

These are some questions about how the past progressive is used to make questions

Was I cooking?Were you cooking dinner?
Was he cooking?Were you playing soccer
Was she cooking?Were we sleeping in that time?
Was It working?Were  they running with you?

Examples of questions using the past Progressive:

  1. What were you doing last night?
  2. What was she cooking when her mom called?
  3. Was she playing soccer when she broke her leg?
  4. Were you fixing your car when you saw a man breaking into your house?
  5. What were you cooking last night? Were you preparing dinner for your wife?
Past Progressive

Lesson Plan –  Past Progressive

Schema Activation (10 Mins)

  1. Teacher  gives pieces of paper with the lyrics of the song «Call me maybe»
  2. Students have to listen to the song and  find the person with the part of the lyrics that follows
  3. Student identify the sentences using the simple past and the past progressive

Pre-task

Task #1 (20 Mins)

  1. Teacher introduces how to make positive statements
  2. Student make pairs, one student is student A and another student is student B
  3. Student A is  given 2 questions strips and make those questions to students B 
  4. They make those questions to as many students as they can

Task #2 (30 Mins)

  1. Students make groups
  2. Teacher assigns a number from 1 to 4  to every member of the group
  3. Teacher send 4 different pictures  to students about people doing different things. Picture 1 for student 1, picture 2 for student 2  and so on
  4. They have to make sentences using the past progressive tense
  5. After they finish, all students 1, 2, 3 and 4 get together with other students 1, 2, 3, and 4

Task #3 (30 Mins)

  1.  Students are sent a video about music video short story
  2. They have to watch the videos  and make false and true sentences using the simple past and present progressive
  3. They are going to ask those question to a specific group when they finish

Main Task (40 Mins)

  1. students make groups of 3
  2. Students have to prepare a collage  made up of 9 pictures
  3. They have to make questions

Post-Task

  1. Review grammar and pronunciation problem that were made during some of the stages.
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Time for Practice

Past Continuous Online Exercises

These are some test to help you determine that you understand the past continuous correctly

  1. Exercise on Past Progressive (Was or were)
  2. Exercises on Past Progressive (Positive Sentences)
  3. Exercises on Past Progressive (Negative Sentences)
  4. Exercises on Past Progressive (Questions)
  5. Past Continuos Exercise
  6. Past Continuous Questions
  7. Simple Past or Past Progressive
  8. Past Simple and Past Continuous

Past Continuous PDF

These are some PDF ‘s with additional information to help you understand the past continuous correctly

  1. Past Continuous Affirmative
  2. Past Continuous Exercises
  3. Past Continuous Affirmative, Negative and Questions
  4. Past Continuous Exercises
  5. Past Progressive Worksheet PDF
  6. Past Simple and Past Continuous – Cambridge University Press