Past Continuous Passive

Past Continuous Passive is used to talk about actions that were ongoing at a particular moment in the past. The emphasis is on the process.

  • When Jack arrived to the workshop his car  was still being repaired.
  • The students were being taught grammar all day long.
  • The dancers were being watched by a jury of experts.

Past Continuous Passive structure

To remember the structure of the Passive Voice in Past Continuous, let’s compare it with the Active Voice structure.

[subject] + was/were + -ing verb

To make statements with the Past Continuous Passive, use:

was/were + being + the Past Participle form of the verb

Singular Plural
I was being listened
You were being listened
He/she/it was being listened
We were being listened
You were being listened
They were being listened
  • The new operator was being shown how to use the processing machine.
  • A novel was being written by her.

When to use Past Continuous Passive

We use Past Continuous Passive to describe actions or events happening at a definite moment in the past when we want to focus attention on the person or thing affected by the action, when the subject is unknown, unclear or irrelevant or when we talk about general truths.

  • When John was ill, he was being taught at home.
  • The man was always being told what to do.
  • All I can tell you is that a ship was being scheduled to land.

Here’s a good video from Ustazy that illustrates the difference between Past Continuous active and passive voice:

Negative forms of Past Continuous Passive

To make a negative form of Past Continuous Passive, insert ‘not‘ between ‘was/were’ and ‘being’ (you can also use ‘wasn’t’ or ‘weren’t).

  • The streets were not being cleaned throughout the whole last week.
  • The interview wasn’t being held in the office.

Questions in Past Continuous Passive

The structure for asking questions in Past Continuous Passive is:

was/were + [subject] + being + Past Participle

  • What music was being played when we came to the park?
  • Were you being helped by Jamie?

See also:

Past Continuous: Statements

Present Continuous Passive

Passive Voice: Overview

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