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Past progressive tense

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The past progressive, is mainly used to describe an action in the past. This action is at a certain time or between two fixed points of time – a period.

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Past progressive formation

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was / were + Infinitive + “-ing“

Just like the “present progressive”, the “past progressive” is formed with the help of a “to be” form and a verb + “-ing”. However, you do not need the am, is or are, as “to be” forms, but was or were. You should also note that you are keeping the word order (subject, predicate, object).


was / were + not + Infinitive + “-ing“

Also, the negation is not really difficult, as the formation of a “normal” sentence. That means you just have to put a “not” behind the “to be” form (was/were).



Basically there is no irregularity, except that you must always watch what you write, since there are two different forms of “to be”. “was” and “were”.

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What is to be observed in the progressive form of the simple past tense!

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Irregular verbs “was” or “were”?

Besides the normal irregular verbs, there is also the special case of “to be”. In this case, there are two forms, one being “was” and the other “were”. In fact, this is very easy to distinguish, since “was” is used in the singular, except for “you” and “were” in the plural. In addition, “were” is still used in the singular in “you”.


Spelling rules to “-ing” formation:

Particularly, making verbs with ing at the end is very simple. However, there are few points to consider:


 1. For verbs ending in “-e”:

The “-e” goes away:

  • give becomes giving


2. Verbs ending in “-er”, “-ur”, “-ir”:

The final consonant is doubled:

  • occurs to occurring


3. Monosyllabic verbs ending on a stressed consonant:

As with the second rule, the last consonant is doubled here:

  • get becomes getting
  • swim becomes swimming
  • fit becomes fitting


4. Verbs ending in “-ie”:

For this purpose, the “-ie” is replaced by a “-y” in the formation:

  • lie becomes lying


Don’t get it twisted:

Although “was not” or “were not”, are synonymous with “wasn’t” or “weren’t”.

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Past progressive examples

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Normal sentence:

I was learning.


Negative sentence:

I was not learning.  /  I wasn’t learning.



Was I learning?

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Past Progressive signal words

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As with most other progressive times, unfortunately, there are no direct signal words. However, each sentence needs a time specification.

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How the progressive form of the preterit (past tense) is used in English!

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  • As a result, the “past progressive” is used to describe an action of the past. In any case, this action was at a specific point in time or was between two points in time (period) of the past.
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About me

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Hey, formerly I thought that learning languages was an innate one. Either you can speak English perfectly or not and no matter how much you learn – “I do not write a good grade in English anyway.” But I quickly learned that you do not know everything in your mother tongue.


After a while, I gave myself one last chance to learn English. Only this time I limited myself to the essential points.

That means for me verbs: the form – examples – signal words & the usage

This method enabled me to learn English faster than ever before.


Since then I know that learning to talk is not innate. And through that realization, my vision has become to offer other students the opportunity to learn English, just like I did back then. Now I ask you to help me by sharing this article with your friends! Thanks a lot!


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Past Progressive Tense
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