Past Progressive

(a.k.a. Past Continuous)

How to form the Past Progressive

I, he, she, it was (not) + ing-form was (not) working
you, we, they were (not) + ing-form were (not) working
Key words: while (während), when (als)


Use of the Past Progressive

1. Shows that an action in the past lasted a long time.

2. If an action happened, while another action took place. We use the past simple for the short action and the past progressive for the long action.

3. Two long past actions happened at the same time. We use the past progressive for both actions.

What were they doing yesterday?
While I was repairing my bike, she was watering the flowers.
He was watching TV while she was reading a book.
Past Progressive Past Progressive
long action long action
When Tom was cooking, he burnt his hand.
Past Progressive Past Simple
long action short action


No Progressive Form


Past Progressive - Exercises