The Past Continuous Tense — Progressive Action
(A) This tense is chiefly used for past action in progress.
For example: (i) It was still raining when I reached there. (Past action in progress) (ii) He was busy in packing last evening. (Past action in progress)
(B) It is also used for a definite arrangement for the future in the past.
For example: (i) He was leaving that night. (Definite arrangement for the future in the past) (ii) I asked her what she was doing next Sunday. (Definite arrangement for the future in the past)
(C) As mentioned in the case of the present continuous tense, certain verbs don’t admit progressive action. Please study such verbs carefully. Refer to such verbs under the Present Continuous tense section.
Such verbs are called Non-progressive (Stative verbs).
(i) Verbs of Perception See, taste, smell, hear, prefer, please.
(ii) Verbs of Thinking Process Think, know, mean, mind.
(iii) Verbs Showing Possession Own, have, belong, comprise, possess, contain.
(iv) Verbs Expressing Feelings or State of Mind Believe, like, love, want, wish, desire, hate.
(v) Verbs in General Look, seem, appear, affect, resemble, cost, require, stand, face, become.
(D) ‘While, still, at that moment, then’ may help the students to express progressive action in the past.