Past Continuous Tense (Past Progressive Tense)

Definizione di Past Continuous Tense (Past Progressive Tense)

Il Past Continuous Tense si usa per parlare di un'azione che stava accadendo, che era dunque in corso in un momento preciso del passato.

Per vedere come si forma il Past Continuous si prenda come esempio la tabella 1, che mostra la forma affermativa, negativa e interrogativa del verbo to sleep.

Tabella 1: forma affermativa, negativa e interrogativa del Past Continuous Tense del verbo to sleep.
Forma affermativaForma negativaForma interrogativa
Forma completaForma contratta
I was sleepingI was not sleepingI wasn't sleepingWas I sleeping?
You were sleepingYou were not sleepingYou weren't sleepingWere you sleeping?
He was sleepingHe was not sleepingHe wasn't sleepingWas he sleeping?
She was sleepingShe was not sleepingShe wasn't sleepingWas she sleeping?
It was sleepingIt was not sleepingIt wasn't sleepingWas it sleeping?
We were sleepingWe were not sleepingWe weren't sleepingWere we sleeping?
You were sleepingYou were not sleepingYou weren't sleepingWere you sleeping?
They were sleepingThey were not sleepingThey weren't sleepingWere they sleeping?

Exercise n 65. Costruisci delle negazioni e delle domande partendo dalle seguenti frasi affermative.

Per esempio:

  • It was raining all day yesterday. – It wasn’t raining all day yesterday. Was it raining all day yesterday?
  1. Mr. Thomson was mowing the grass at 11 o’clock yesterday. 
  2. We were working on the project when you came. 
  3. Henry was sailing at this time yesterday. 
  4. I was waiting for you while you were flirting with your friends. 
  5. Somebody was playing the violin at 2 o’clock yesterday. 
  6. I was training hard all day yesterday. 
  7. The neighbours were making noise all day yesterday. 
  8. I was still sleeping at 7 am yesterday. 
  9. We were talking at this time yesterday. 
  10. I was going to the dentist when you called me.

Exercise n 66 . Trasforma le seguenti affermazioni in frasi interrogative seguendo il modello.

Per esempio:

  • We were swimming in the pool at this time yesterday (sea). – Were you swimming in the pool or in the sea yesterday? 
  1. They were jogging at this time yesterday (walking). 
  2. The mechanic was trying to fix the fridge all evening yesterday (oven). 
  3. We were baking a pie at 5 pm yesterday(cookies). 
  4. The hamster was sleeping all day (night). 
  5. Jim and Jack were fishing in the lake yesterday (in the pond). 
  6. I was riding a horse at this time yesterday (a camel). 
  7. Mike was singing in the shower at 7 am yesterday (7 pm). 
  8. Nicol was calling you all morning yesterday (Melinda). 
  9. Kelly was watching TV when a fuse blew (working on PC)
  10. Relaxing music was playing all day yesterday (energetic).

Exercise n 67. Ricava delle domande speciali (Wh-questions) dalle frasi seguenti.

Per esempio:

  • The children were playing in the garden (Where). – Where were the children playing?

Fai attenzione alle domanda rivolte al soggetto: il verbo ausiliare in questo caso sarà sempre was. Per esempio:

  • The birds were singing in the garden. – Who was singing in the garden?
  1. They were skiing yesterday (Who). 
  2. We were drinking coffee together yesterday morning (When). 
  3. The secretary was complaining all day today (What). 
  4. People were dancing in the street yesterday (Where). 
  5. Henriet was studying at this time yesterday(What). 
  6. We were leaving when he came (When).
  7. It was pouring all day yesterday (When). 
  8. Melany was preparing for her performance all day (Who). 
  9. The boys were playing football when the stranger started talking to them (Who). 
  10. The lawyer was studying the case all day (What).

Exercise n 68. Trasforma le seguenti frasi affermative in frasi interrogative contenenti le tag questions.

Per esempio: 

  • You were watching the sunset when I called you, weren’t you? 
  1. They were shooting a movie in the city center yesterday. 
  2. The baker was working all morning. 
  3. Ginger was running after me when I fell down. 
  4. The teacher was checking the test all night. 
  5. The plane was flying too low. 
  6. We were laughing all day. 
  7. Your friends were looking for you at 8 pm yesterday. 
  8. She was shopping the whole day. 
  9. Natalia was planning to quit her job. 
  10. The light was shining right into my face.

Quando si usa il Past Continuous (Past Progressive)

  1. Per parlare di azioni che accadevano in un certo momento nel passato.
    • I was waiting for you at 6 pm yesterday.
  2. Per parlare di due azioni che accadevano contemporaneamente. In questo caso si usa la congiunzione while, che significa “mentre”.
    • I was dreaming about a relaxing evening home, while he was talking me to the crowded pizzeria. 
  3. Per parlare di azioni prolungate che sono state interrotte. Usiamo il Past Simple per indicare l’azione momentanea che interrompe quella prolungata. Per esempio:
    • We were having dinner when suddenly a doorbell rang.
  4. All’inizio di un racconto per introdurre la scena.
    • One evening we were sitting by the fire-place where the flames were happily dancing. As usual, Grandad started telling a story. 

Il Past Continuous viene spesso usato con i seguenti avverbi o formule:  while, when, as, all day/night/morning, all day yesterday, etc.

Attenzione: non dimenticare che ci sono dei verbi in inglese che non esprimono un’azione ma uno stato, un’attitudine oppure le relazioni tra gli oggetti o persone, per cui non possono essere usati con il Past Continuous. Puoi trovare più informazioni su questi verbi qui

Esercizi di verifica sul Past Continuous (Past Progressive)

Esercizio n 69. Coniuga i verbi tra parentesi utilizzando il Past Continuous, spiegando anche per quale motivo il suo utilizzo è corretto.

  1. Your wife called while you … (give) a presentation. 
  2. They ... (do) yoga at 7 am yesterday morning. 
  3. He … (read) books while other guys of his age (play) football.  
  4. The monkey … (stealing) bananas when I entered the room. 
  5. He ... (think) about it all day yesterday. 
  6. What … you (do) when the fire-alarm went off? 
  7. David … (ride) his bike when he saw this girl. 
  8. I … (swim) when I touched the jelly-fish.
  9. He ... (play) the guitar while his daughter … (sing) a song. 
  10. The driver … (talk) over the phone when the police stopped him.

Exercise n 70. Coniuga i verbi tra parentesi utilizzando il tempo verbale più corretto, scegliendo tra Past Continuous o Past Simple.

Per esempio:

  • She … (smile) when I … (look) at her. – She was smiling when I looked at her. 
  1. The mobile phone ... (ring) while I ... (drive). I couldn’t answer.
  2. We … (see) a dolphin while we … (sail). 
  3. Nigel … (read) a book when the officer … (ask) him to show his ticket.
  4. The old man … (sleep) when the fish finally … (pull) his rod.
  5. The student … (copy) the answers from the cheat sheet when the teacher … (come) up to him. 
  6. I had a strange feeling because he … (not look) at me while talking to me. 
  7. The girl … (try) her mother’s clothes on when her parents … (come) in.
  8. The mother … (watch) the kids play in the water while the father … peacefully … (sleep) on his sunbed. 
  9. We … (laugh) loudly when the baby … (wake) up. 
  10. Brigit … (cut) her finger while she … (wash) the dishes.

Exercise n 71.  Traduci queste frasi dall’italiano all’inglese utilizzando il Past Continuous o il Past Simple.

  1. Abbiamo dormito tutto il pomeriggio. 
  2. Stavi parlando mentre io stavo studiando.
  3. Rodger stava fumando quando è arrivata mamma. 
  4. Hai lavorato tutta la notte ieri?
  5. Cosa stavi facendo quando ho bussato?
  6. Ann stava parlando con se stessa quando l’ho vista per la prima volta. 
  7. Stavo finendo il mio piatto quando è arrivato il dolce. 
  8. Ti stavo pensando quando mi hai chiamato. 
  9. Non stavo lavorando quando è arrivato il capo. 
  10. Miranda stava nuotando quando ha visto lo squalo. 

Exercise n 72. Coniuga i verbi tra parentesi utilizzando il tempo verbale più corretto tra Past Continuous o Past Simple.

When Michael Colton 1 ………… (get) home from work last Wednesday he found a dog that 2 …………... (sit) on his front porch. The yellow lab-border collie 3 …………. (wait) for Michael to arrive, he told CBS News via email on Tuesday. 

The dog wasn't his — but it seemed like she felt at home. That's because in a way, she was. The dog, later identified as Cleo, had previously lived at the house in Lawson, Missouri, with her owners nearly two years ago.

"We were very surprised when we 4 ………… (see) the dog," Michael told CBS News. "We 5 ………… (think) she was a neighbor's dog or some simple explanation like that. "

Cleo's family now lives in Kansas. So, to get back to their old house in Missouri, she had to travel 57 miles, "which is something like a 15-20 hour walk," Michael said.

While the dog 6 …………... (travel) to her old house, her family 7 … ………….(look for) her everywhere, publishing announcements in facebook and twitter. Thankfully, the dog has a chip and Michael could identify her owners. 

Michael immediately contacted them. 

 The dog seemed to be confused about people living in her old house. "You could see in her eyes that she 8 …………. (not recognize) or trust us, but as soon as the owners' car pulled up her ears perked up, and when she saw the young men, even though they 9 …………. (wear) masks (because of COVID-19), she changed her behaviour," Michael said.

Cleo's journey remains a mystery, but she is now back with her owners. "We love our home so I can see how she would want to come back to it," Michael 10 ……….(say).*

* Fonte =

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Yulia Gurikova

Professional Language Coach

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Laureata con lode presso l’Università Federale del Sud di Russia con qualifica professionale di linguista e insegnante, ha proseguito lo studio post-universario ottenendo il dottorato di ricerca (PhD) con stage in USA e in Inghilterra. Ha esperienza di oltre 10 mila ore di insegnamento e language coaching per aiutare i privati e le aziende a raggiungere i loro obiettivi linguistici e professionali.


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