The past continuous at CEFR Level A2. The past continuous (also known as the past progressive) is used to talk about something that was happening in the past. Here are some examples:
- He was washing his hands when the phone rang.
- We were singing and they were dancing all night.
The past continuous is formed by using was / were + [base verb] (without ‘to’) + ing.
In Level A2, we will look at 2 different uses of the past continuous (we will look at more uses of the past continuous in Level B1):
- To talk about something happening at a given time in the past
- To talk about two actions happening at the same time in the past
Past continuous use #1: To talk about an activity in progress at a particular time in the past
- This time last week, I was relaxing on the beach.
The particular time is ‘this time last week’, and we are referring to an ongoing activity (relaxing).
Compare the past simple and the past continuous:
- I left the house at 8am (talking about a time you did/finished something).
- At 8.15 I was walking down the main road (talking about an action that was happening at the time – not finished)
Past continuous use #2:
To talk about two actions happening at the same time in the past
- Last night I was cooking dinner while my friends were watching television.
Using was cooking and were watching tells the listener that both actions were happening at the same time.
Now test your understanding of the past continuous at CEFR Level A2 by taking this test. Click the link in the table below.