Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|4. I was doing


Study this example situation:

Yesterday Karen and Jim played tennis. They began at 10 o’clock and finished at 11.30. So, at 10.30 they were playing tennis.

They were playing = they were in the middle of playing. They had not finished playing.

Was/were -ing is the past continuous:

I/he/she/it was

we/you/they were



working etc.

Read the rules

I was doing something = I was in the middle of doing something at a certain time. The action or situation had already started before this time, but had not finished:



1. This time last year I was living in Brazil.

2. What were you doing at 10 o’clock last night?

3. I waved to Helen, but she wasn’t looking.

Compare the past continuous (I was doing) and past simple (I did):

Past continuous (in the middle of an action)

1. I was walking home when I met Dave. (in the middle of an action)

2. Kate was watching television when we arrived.

Past simple (complete action)

1. I walked home after the party last night. (= all the way, completely)

2. Kate watched television a lot when she was ill last year.

Read the rules

We often use the past simple and the past continuous together to say that something happened in the middle of something else:

1. Matt phoned while we were having dinner.

2. It was raining when I got up.

3. I saw you in the park yesterday. You were sitting on the grass and reading a book.

4. I hurt my back while I was working in the garden.

But we use the past simple to say that one thing happened after another:

I was walking along the road when I saw Dave. So I stopped, and we had a chat.


1. When Karen arrived, we were having dinner. (= we had already started before she arrived)

2. When Karen arrived, we had dinner. (= Karen arrived, and then we had dinner)

Read the rules

Some verbs (for example, know and want) are not normally used in the continuous (see Lesson 4):

1. We were good friends. We knew each other well. (not We were knowing)

2. I was enjoying the party, but Chris wanted to go home. (not was wanting)

What were you doing at these times? Write sentences as in the examples. The past continuous is not always necessary (see the second example)



  • I was working.
  • I was in bed asleep.
  • I was getting ready to go out.
  • I was watching TV at home.

Use your own ideas to complete the sentences. Use the past continuous


  1. … was having a shower
  2. … were waiting for the bus
  3. … was reading the paper
  4. … was watching it

Put the verb into the correct form, past continuous or past simple

Put the verb into the correct form, past continuous or past simple

If you open the lesson plan you will be able to assign separate pages as homework or all the homework pages at once.

Урок Homework Курс
  • The example
  • I was doing something
  • It was raining when I got up
  • Know and want
  • I was having dinner
  • I saw Sue in town yesterday
  • Past Continuous or Past Simple?
  • Homework
  1. 1. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|1. I am doing and I do
  2. 2. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|2. I am doing and I do
  3. 3. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|3. I did
  4. 4. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|4. I was doing
  5. 5. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|5. I have done
  6. 6. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|6. I have done 2
  7. 7. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|7. I have been doing
  8. 8. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|8. I've been doing / I've done
  9. 9. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|9. How long have you (been)...?
  10. 10. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|10. For/since; When/How long?
  11. 11. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|11. I have done and I did
  12. 12. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|12. I have done and I did 2
  13. 13. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|13. I had done
  14. 14. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|14. I had been doing
  15. 15. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|15. The future: I am doing / I do
  16. 16. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|16. I will and I'm going to
  17. 17. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|17. Future: Continuous/Perfect
  18. 18. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|18. Conditional I
  19. 19. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|19. Can, could and (be) able to
  20. 20. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|20. Have to and must
  21. 21. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|21. If I do... and If I did...
  22. 22. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|22. If I knew... I wish I knew...
  23. 23. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|23. Conditional III
  24. 24. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|24. Wish
  25. 25. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|25. Is done / was done
  26. 26. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|26. Be/been/being + done
  27. 27. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|27. Passive 3
  28. 28. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|28. Passive: He is said to...
  29. 29. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|29. Have something done
  30. 30. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|30. He said that...
  31. 31. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|31. Say and Tell
  32. 32. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|32. Do you know where..?
  33. 33. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|33. Auxiliary verbs; so/neither
  34. 34. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|34. Do you? Isn't it? etc.
  35. 35. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|35. Gerund
  36. 36. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|36. Verb + to Infinitive
  37. 37. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|37. Verb + Object + to Infinitive
  38. 38. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|38. -ing or to: change in meaning
  39. 39. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|39. Try/Need/Help: -ing or to
  40. 40. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|40. Like / Would like: -ing or to
  41. 41. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|41. Some/any/no/none
  42. 42. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|42. Much/many/few/little
  43. 43. Adults|Grammar|Intermediate|43. Both/either/neither/all/every