Past Continuous: Negative & Questions

We use the Past Continuous to talk about actions or events happening at a particular moment in the past – focusing on the activity in progress.

Questions in Past Continuous

To make questions in the Past Continuous, put ‘was’/’were‘ before the subject and add the ‘-ing’ form of the verb:

  • What were you doing when you broke your leg?
  • was snowboarding.

Yes/No questions

To create a question that will be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, use ‘was‘ / ‘were‘ (or ‘wasn’t‘ / ‘weren’t‘ for a negative question) + -ing verb.

Was I singing?
Were you singing?
Was he/she/it singing?
Were we singing?
Were you singing?
Were they singing?
  • Was it snowing yesterday at 5 o’clock?
  • Were you still skating in the park when Jemma called you?
  • Were the boys working in the garden when their uncle came round for a coffee?  
Note: In short positive answers to the Past Continuous questions we use only full forms of ‘was’/’were’. In short negative answers we can also use short forms of was/were.
  • Was he playing football at that moment?
  • – Yes, he was (No, he wasn’t).
  • Were they staying with their parents?
  • – Yes, they were (No, they weren’t).

Special questions

Special questions (also known as wh-questions) are questions that require more information in their answers. They are made using wh- words such as what, where, when, why, which, who, how, how many, how much.

To make a special question, use the same word order as with yes-no questions but put a wh-word before the verb ‘was’ or ‘were’. The structure is:

wh-word + was/were + [subject] + -ing verb

  • What was she thinking about last night? She looked worried.
  • What music were they listening to?
  • Why were they drinking champagne yesterday?

Negative forms of Past Continuous

To make negative statements in the Past Continuous, we use:

was/were + not + the “-ing” form of the verb

I was not (wasn’t) talking
You were not talking
He/she/it was not talking
We were not (weren’t) talking
You (weren’t) talking
They (weren’t) talking
  • Peter wasn’t doing his homework when his father came in.
  • Rebecca was angry with her children because they weren’tsleeping when she arrived.

Check out this video from Ustazy to summarize different forms of Past Continuous tense:

See also:

Past Continuous: Statements

Past Continuous Passive

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