Past Progressive Tense
a. It shows an action that began earlier and was in progress when another action occurred.
I was walking down the street when it began to rain.
While I was walking down the street, it began to rain.
In both sentences the action walking was in progress when it began to rain.
b. It may also show a point in time, with expressing an action which began before that point and probably continued after that.
At eight he was having his breakfast.
We can guess that he started his breakfast before eight.
c. We use the continuous tenses in descriptions. Simple past is also used to show what happened that time.
A wood fire was burning on the hearth and a cat was sleeping in front of it.
A girl was playing piano and singing softly to herself. Suddenly there was knock at the door. The girl stopped playing. The cat woke up.
d. Just as the present continuous can be used to express a definite future arrangement as:
I am leaving for Lahore tonight.
In the same way the past progressive can express this sort of future in the past.
· We were reading our lesson.
· He was playing tennis yesterday.
· She was going to school.
· The horses were neighing.
· The sparrow was making a nest.
· The dogs were barking.
· He was preparing for the examination.
· The teacher was marking the papers.
· He was not weeping.
· The cat was not mewing.
· The farmer was not ploughing.
· She was not singing a song.
· A cool breeze was not blowing.
· The children were not playing with toys.
· The boy was not dozing.
· The fountains were not playing.
· Was the train moving at full speed?
· Was Zahid shivering with cold?
· Were they laughing at the traveler?
· Was the beggar begging?
· Was the horse running fast?
· Was it drizzling?
· Was Zahid sleeping by now?
· Was this man quarrelling with his brother?