CBSE Class 8 English Grammar Past Continuous Tense Past Perfect Continuous

Past Continuous Tense / Past Perfect Continuous


We use the past continuous when we are talking about—

¨   something which happened before and after (around) a given time in the past

It was just after ten. I was watching the news on TV.
We were playing in the afternoon.

¨   something happening before and after another action in the past:

He broke his leg when he was playing football.
She saw plane as it was landing.

Functions of the Past continuous

The past continuous describes actions or events in a time before now, which began in the past and is still going on at the time of speaking. In other words, it expresses an unfinished or incomplete action in the past.

It is used:

  • Often, to describe the background in a story written in the past tense, e.g. "The sun was shining and the birds were singing as the elephant came out of the jungle. The other animals were relaxing in the shade of the trees, but the elephant moved very quickly. She was looking for her baby, and she didn't notice the hunter who was watching her through his binoculars. When the shot rang out, she was running towards the river..."
  • to describe an unfinished action that was interrupted by another event or action, e.g. "I was having a beautiful dream when the alarm clock rang."
  • to express a change of mind: e.g. "I was going to spend the day at the beach but I've decided to get my homework done instead."
  • with 'wonder', to make a very polite request: e.g. "I was wondering if you could baby-sit for me tonight."


            They were waiting for the bus when the accident happened.

            Caroline was skiing when she broke her leg.

            When we arrived, he was having a bath.

            When the fire started, I was watching television.

Note: with verbs not normally used in the continuous form, the simple past is used.

Forming the Past continuous

The past continuous of any verb is composed of two parts : the past tense of the verb "to be" (was/were), and the base of the main verb +ing.



base + ing
















Interrogative negative









I was playing

I was not playing

Was I playing?

You were playing

You were not playing

Were you playing?

He was playing

He wasn't playing

Was he playing?

We were playing

We weren't playing

Were we playing?

They were playing

They weren't playing

Were they playing?



Put the verbs into the correct form (past progressive/continuous).

  1. We _________________ (take) breakfast at that time.
  2. The sun _____________ ( shine) brightly at noon
  3. When I phoned my friends, they (play)___________________monopoly.
  4. She ________________ (cross) the road when a scooter hit her.
  5. Yesterday at six I (prepare) ____________________________ dinner.
  6. The kids (play)_______________in the garden when it suddenly began to rain.
  7. I (practise)____________________the guitar when he came home.
  8. We (not / cycle)________________________all day.
  9. While Alan (work)______________________in his room, his friends (swim)______________in the pool.
  10. I tried to tell them the truth but they (not / listen)_______________________.
  11. What (you / do)_______________________yesterday?
  12. Most of the time we (sit)__________________________in the park.
  13. I (listen)_______________________________to the radio while my sister (watch) ____________________TV.
  14. When I visited Satish , he ______________ ( have) tea.
  15. He broke his leg as he ______________ (alight) the bus


Change the verb to the Past Continuous Tense form:

  1. Andy________________ (read) a book when the power went off.
  2. What___________________ (you do) yesterday night?
  3. Sally and Anna _______________(watch) a horror film when the door bell suddenly rang.
  4. My mother_____________ (listen) to the news on the radio .
  5. Maya___________ (sit) next to Paul.
  6. How many other students________________(you study) with?
  7. The telephone __________________(not ring).
  8. When I arrived, They (play)__________________________cards.
  9. we (study)__________________________English yesterday at 4:00 pm.
  10. The dog (bark)________________the whole night.


The Past Perfect or the past in the past:

My mom suddenly remembered she had left her purse at home.When we are looking back from a point in the past to something earlier in the past we use the past perfect:

When we had done all our shopping we caught the bus home.
Romit wanted to lift the trophy, but he had not trained himself well.
Romit would have lifted the trophy if he had trained himself well. 

Functions of the Past Perfect Continuous

The past perfect continuous corresponds to the present perfect continuous, but with reference to a time earlier than 'before now'. As with the present perfect continuous, we are more interested in the process.


  • Had you been waiting long before the taxi arrived?
  • We had been trying to open the door for five minutes when Jane found her key.
  • It had been raining hard for several hours and the streets were very wet.
  • Her friends had been thinking of calling the police when she walked in.

This form is also used in reported speech. It is the equivalent of the past continuous and the present perfect continuous in direct speech:

  • Jane said, "I have been gardening all afternoon." = Jane said she had been gardening all afternoon.
  • When the police questioned him, John said, "I was working late in the office that night." = When the police questioned him, John told them he had been working late in the office that night.

Forming the past perfect continuous

The past perfect continuous is composed of two elements - the past perfect of the verb to be (=had been) + the present participle (base+ing).


had been

verb + ing


had been




had been




hadn't been



Had you



Interrogative negative

Hadn't they








I had been buying

I hadn't been buying

Had I been buying?

You had been buying

You hadn't been buying

Had you been buying?

She had been buying

She hadn't been buying

Had she been buying?

We had been buying

We hadn't been buying

Had we been buying?

They had been buying

They hadn't been buying

Had they been buying?


 Put the verbs into the correct form: (Past Perfect Continuous)

  1. We (sleeping)_________________for 12 hours when he woke us up.
  2. They (waiting)___________________at the station for 90 minutes when the train finally arrived.
  3. We (look for)________________her ring for two hours and then we found it in the bathroom.
  4. I (not / walk)___________________for a long time, when it suddenly began to rain.
  5. How long (learn / she)____________________English before she went to London?
  6. Frank Sinatra caught the flu because he (sing)_________________in the rain too long.
  7. He (drive)________________________less than an hour when he ran out of petrol.
  8. They were very tired in the evening because they (help)____________________on the farm all day.
  9. I (not / work)___________________all day; so I wasn't tired and went to the disco at night.
  10. They (cycle)____________________all day so their legs were sore in the evening.


III. Fill in the blanks with Past continuous / past perfect to make meaningful sentences. 

1. We _________________ ( spend) all the money, so we had to walk back home.

2.  The dog was killed after it _______________ (bite) many people.

3.He _________________ (go) to say his prayers when he met with an accident.

4. Amba sprained her ankle  while she ____________________ . (run)

5.The waves destroyed the sand castle that we __________________ (build).

6. Grandfather ____________________ (walk ) in the park when he saw the injured puppy.

7. I ________________ (not/be) to Goa earlier, so I really enjoyed the trip.

8.Rohan __________________ (study) when I went to his house.

9. When Danish went out to play, he (finish / already) his home work.

10. The waiter brought a dish that I _______________ (not / order) so I returned it.

11.  If I ________________ (have) enough money, I would have given some in charity.

12. The sun _____________( rise) when I got up.



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