Using the Past Continuous with the Simple Past Tense The past continuous tense uses:
was/were + (verb) + ing
was eating or were going
It is used to show something that happened in the past and continued for a while. For example:
From 8:00 to 8:30 I was taking a bath.
We use the past continuous tense with the simple past tense when we want to show that one thing happened in the middle of another thing.
I was taking a bath and the telephone rang.
During a period of time (8:00-8:30) I was taking a bath. At one time (let’s say 8:17) someone called on the telephone.
We can also connect the past continuous and simple past together by using the words when, while, and as.
When I was taking a bath, the telephone rang.
The telephone rang when I was taking a bath.
While I was taking a bath, the telephone rang.
The telephone rang while I was taking a bath.
As I was taking a bath, the telephone rang.
The telephone rang as I was taking a bath.
Notice if you use when, while, or as at the beginning of the sentence, you need to put a comma (,) after the phrase.
Check Your UnderstandingMake a sentence using the words given. Use the past continuous for things that happened over a period of time and the simple past for things that happened a one time. The first one has been done for you.
walk down the street (5:00-5:10)
see an old man (5:04)
While I was walking down the street, I saw an old man.
I saw an old man while I was walking down the street.
bake a cake (3:45-4:45)
drop a spoon (3:51)
Check your answers Susan was baking a cake when she dropped a spoon. When Susan was baking a cake, she dropped a spoon.
a burglar comes in the house (3:00)
Check your answers We were sleeping as a burglar came into the house. As a burglar came into the house, we were sleeping.
3. George and Tammy
play golf (4:30-6:30)
see a movie star on the golf course (6:01)
Check your answers George and Tammy were playing golf and saw a movie star.
4. The cat
scratch its ear (12:01-12:02)
a mouse runs by (12:01)
Check your answers While the cat was scratching its ear, a mouse ran by. A mouse ran by while the cat was scratching its ear.