The Past Continuous Tense - Affirmative sentences



In today's English grammar lesson, we continue looking at tenses. We find out how to form past continuous affirmative sentences. 

Past continuous tense word order

The past continuous tense uses the verb 'to be' as a helping verb and the base form of the verb + -ing as a main verb. The basic word order for affirmative sentences is: subject + helping verb 'to be' (was/were) + the main verb (the base form of the verb + -ing).


subject
helping verb
the base form
of the verb + ing
I
was
climbing.
You
were
talking.
We
were
sitting.
They
were
singing.
He
was
thinking.
She
was
dreaming.
It
was
growing.

  • Larry was doing an exercise on the adverbs of frequency. 
  • The children were playing on the street corner.
  • Sam was singing in the shower.
  • The sun was shining and the birds were chirping.

Spelling of verb + -ing forms

The spelling of verb + ing forms can be a little difficult. You can read my lesson on making present continuous affirmative sentences to study the basic spelling rules of these verb forms.  

Common mistakes with affirmative sentences

The most common mistake is using the incorrect verb 'to be':

My boys was climbing into the tree house. X
My boys were climbing into the tree house.

It were raining heavily. X
It was raining heavily.

The donkeys was walking extremely slowly. X
The donkeys were walking extremely slowly.

The wind were blowing through the trees. X
The wind was blowing through the trees.

Another common mistake is to use the base form of the verb instead of verb + -ing. Look at these examples:

I was play in the park. X
I was playing in the park. (past continuous tense)
I played in the park. (past simple tense)

Max and Mona were read a book about sports vocabulary. X
Max and Mona were reading a book about sports vocabulary. (past continuous tense)
Max and Mona read a book about sports vocabulary.  (past simple tense)

The receptionist was speak on the phone. X
The receptionist was speaking on the phone. (past continuous tense)
The receptionist spoke on the phone.  (past simple tense)

The avocado tree was grow slowly. X
The avocado tree was growing slowly. (past continuous tense)
The avocado tree grew slowly.  (past simple tense)

Please note: Sometimes we use the past continuous tense. Other times we use the past simple tense. We will talk about these different uses in a future lesson. 


Lesson Vocabulary

receptionist (noun) = a person who answers the phone, greets and help visitors, and sometimes does typing at a company

shower (noun)

tree house (noun)

avocado tree (noun)


Exercise


Your turn! Write down 5 past simple affirmative sentences. Write down the same sentences but in the past continuous tense. For example: (0) My parents dreamt about ghosts. / My parents were dreaming about ghosts.  Please leave your answers in the comments section and I will gladly give you some feedback. Good luck! 

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

1- My son had a quick shower / My sun was having a quick shower.
2- John mended his car / John was mending his car.
3- I picked the phone up on the first ring / I was picking the phone up on the first ring.
4- My neighbor built his house / My neighbor was building his house.
5- These men cheated their wives / These men were cheating their wives

Thank you
mt203948

Francois Oosthuizen said...

Dear mt203948

Congratulations on posting the first comment on this lesson! :-)

Please remember to use full stops(.) at the end of your sentences.

Here are my suggestions:

1a) My son had a quick shower X
My son has a quick shower.
1b) My sun was having a quick shower. X
My son was having a quick shower.
-'Son' and 'sun' have different meanings.
2a) John mended his car X
John mended his car.
2b) Great!
3a) I picked the phone up on the first ring X
I picked up the phone on the first ring.
3b)I was picking the phone up on the first ring. X
I was picking up the phone on the first ring.
- The phrasal verb 'pick up' is inseparable except when we use a pronoun.
Compare:
I was picking it up.
I was picking up it. X
I was picking up the phone.
I was picking the phone up. X
4a) My neighbor built his house X
My neigbour built his house.
4b) Good!
5a) These men cheated their wives X
These men cheated their wives.
5b)These men were cheating their wives X
These men were cheating their wives.

Greetings

Francois

Ирина said...

1 Mona walked home after the party last night./
Suzy was walking to the cinema when she met Mona.
2 The students sat on the benches under the avocado tree yesterday./The children were sitting on the grass and playing the ball.
3 Dany drove a car fastly./ I was driving to work yesterday morning.
4 Mona wrote me a letter a week ago./ I was writing the postcard in a bar on beach.
5 He sang folk songs in public last year./ She was singing at a friend's wedding in the restaurant.

kazuo nishi said...

(1) I bought this camera./I was buying this camera.
(2) He played the piano./He was playing the piano.
(3) I wrote some letters./I was writing some letters.
(4) They song some traditional songs./They were singing some traditional songs.
(5)Tom attended some useful workshops./Tom was attending some useful workshops.

Francois Oosthuizen said...

Thank you for doing the exercise, Irina!

1) Great!
2a)Good!
2b)The children were sitting on the grass and playing the ball. X
The children were sitting on the grass and playing with the ball.
- play + with + object e.g.
The girl played the doll. X
The girl played with the doll.
3a)Dany drove a car fastly. X
Dany drove fast.
- 'fast' is both an adverb and an adjective e.g.
The fast car is very expensive. (adjective)
He always drives very fast. (adverb)
3b) Correct!
4a) Good!
4b) I was writing the postcard in a bar on beach. X
I was writing the postcard in a bar on the beach.
- You need the definite article(the) before the noun(beach).
5a) Great!
5b) She was singing at a friend's wedding in the restaurant. X
She was singing at a friend's wedding reception which took place in a restaurant.
- The 'wedding reception' is the party that takes place after the wedding ceremony.
- You need a relative clause ('which took place in a restaurant').

Francois Oosthuizen said...

Thanks for doing the exercise, Kazuo!

Here are some suggestions:

(1) Great
(2) Good!
(3) OK!
(4a) They song some traditional songs. X
They sang some traditional songs.
- 'Song' is a noun. It is spelled with an 'o'.
- 'Sang' is the past form of the verb 'sing'. It is spelled with an 'a'.
(4b)Correct!
(5)Great!

Thanh Tung said...

1. I watched a match on TV/ I was watching a match on TV.
2. My brother went at the zoo with his girlfriend/ My brother was going at the zoo with his girlfriend.
3. John and Sue read a comics in them class/ John and Sue were reading a comics in them class.
4. I went to the school and my friends went to the park/ I was going to the school and my friends were going to the park.
5. My family had a long vacation for the lunar new year/ My family were having a long vacation for the lunar new year.

Francois Oosthuizen said...

Thank you for dong the exercise, Thanh!

Here are my suggestions:

1a) I watched a match on TV X
I watched a match on TV.
- Please end your sentence with a full stop(.)
1b) Good!
2a) My brother went at the zoo with his girlfriend X
My brother went to the zoo with his girlfriend.
2b)My brother was going at the zoo with his girlfriend. X
My brother was going to the zoo with his girlfriend.
- go + to + a place e.g.
I went to the cinema yesterday.
I went at the cinema yesterday. X
I was at the cinema yesterday.
I was to the cinema yesterday.
3. John and Sue read a comics in them class X
John and Sue read a comic in their class.
John and Sue were reading a comics in them class. X
John and Sue were reading a comic in their class.
- If you use an indefinite article(a/an), the noun must be singular.
- You need to use the possessive adjective(their) and not the pronoun 'them' e.g.
I love them.
I love their. X
I love their paintings.
I love them paintings. X
4. I went to the school and my friends went to the park X
I went to the school, but my friends went to the park.
I was going to the school and my friends were going to the park. X
I was going to the school, but my friends were going to the park.
- You should use the conjunction 'but' instead of 'and' because the 2 ideas are in opposition.
5. My family had a long vacation for the lunar new year.
- Please remember your full stop(.)
5b)Great!

Ирина said...

Good day Francois! Than you very much.

Francois Oosthuizen said...

You're welcome, Irina!

Mohammed Ahmed said...

1) I played football yesterday.
1- I was playing basketball.
2) He ate some food.
2- He was eating piece of cake.
3) She wrote a letter.
3- She was speaking on phone.
4) It died last Monday.
4- It was running on the ground.
5) We asked my teacher about exams.
5- We were asking my teacher about exams.
6) You sent a fax.
6- You were sending a fax.
7) They drank some juice.
7- They were drinking a lot of juice.

Francois Oosthuizen said...

Thank you for doing the exercise, Mohammed!

These are good sentences!! They are all correct except for numbers 2b, 3b, and 5.

2b) He was eating piece of cake. X
He was eating a piece of cake.
- You need the indefinite article 'a' before the noun(piece) in this sentence.
3b) She was speaking on phone. X
She was speaking on the phone.
- You need the definite article(the) before the noun(phone) in this sentence.
5) We asked my teacher about exams. X
We asked our teacher about the exams.
We were asking my teacher about exams. X
We were asking our teacher about the exams.
- You need a definite article(the) before the noun(exams).
- You should use the plural possessive adjective 'our' because the subject pronoun is 'we'. Look at these sentences:
I asked MY teacher for help.
We asked OUR teacher for help.
You asked YOUR teacher for help.
They asked THEIR teacher for help.
She asked HER teacher for help.
He asked HIS teacher for help.

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