Verb tenses: past continuous


While I was having a shower, the telephone rang. - Enquanto eu estava tomando banho, o telefone tocou.

The past continuous is mainly used in the following situations:

Use Example Exemplo
For actions in progress during a period in the past John was doing his homework last night. John estava fazendo os trabalhos de casa ontem à noite.
For something happening around a specific time in the past. I was having a bath when the telephone rang. Eu estava tomando banho quando o telefone tocou.
For actions happening at the same time in the past While Mary was watching television, John was reading a book. Enquanto Mary estava vendo televis√£o, John estava lendo um livro.
For actions that repeatedly happened in the past He was always asking for more money. Ele estava sempre pedindo mais dinheiro.
Further learning
Description Author Language
A collection of examples using past continuous. simonfilm
How to construct the past continuous, some examples and a tip with 'when' and 'while'. MrTeacherPaulo
Some high energy examples using past continuous. Mairo Vergara
When to use the past continuous.
A summary of when to use past continuous (note: requires advanced listening skills). Let's Talk English
Illustration of how to differentiate between the past continous and past simple. Smrt English
Fun song providing examples of the past continuous. Rockin' English Lessons


This grammar section includes materials sourced from the following: Grammarnet,