The Past Continuous Tense: Understanding a Key Grammatical Concept


Introduction on past continuous tense:

Good morning, class! As a teacher, it’s always exciting to start a new lesson and help my students learn something new. And this morning is no exception! Today, we will be focusing on the past continuous tense, a key grammatical concept that is often used in everyday conversation and writing.

To kick off the lesson, I’ll give you a real-life example of the past continuous tense in action. I wrote the following sentence on the board: “”This morning, I was brushing my teeth when my cell phone rang.””

I then asked the class: “”Which tense is this sentence in? Can anyone help me figure it out?”” After a few moments of reflection, someone usually answers correctly that it’s the past continuous tense.

Explanation on past continuous tense:

The past continuous tense is characterized by the use of “”was”” or “”were”” with the verb in its -ing form. This combination of helping verb and verb-ing form tells us that the action was already happening in the past when another action took place. For example, “”I was brushing my teeth”” tells us that I was in the middle of brushing my teeth when the phone rang.

We also see the use of “”when”” to join the two actions together, as in “”I was brushing my teeth when my cell phone rang.”” This word is important to remember because it helps us identify the past continuous tense.

Next, I wrote the structure of the past continuous form on the board: “”Past continuous tense: Subject + was/were + verb-ing.”” I explained to the class that this is the formula for writing sentences in the past continuous tense.

To further solidify this concept, I asked the class to give me examples of sentences in the past continuous form, such as “”We were jumping,”” “”He was talking,”” or “”She was baking.”” The students usually respond with a variety of answers, and I write some of their responses on the board.

After that, I added “”when”” to the structure on the board and gave the class a few examples, such as “”Aliya was cooking when her mother called.”” I then asked the students to give me a few more ideas for sentences using “”when.””

Finally, I wrapped up the lesson by giving the students a fun exercise. I asked them to work in pairs and complete some sentences in the past continuous form. They had 10 minutes to do this, and I walked around the room to clarify any misunderstandings and answer any questions.


Conclusion on past continuous tense:

Overall, the past continuous tense is a simple yet powerful grammatical concept that is essential for clear communication. I hope my students now have a solid understanding of this important aspect of the English language.

Sualeha Anjum
Author: Sualeha Anjum

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