The past continuous:
The past continuous (also called past progressive) is a verb tense which is used to show that an ongoing past action was happening at a specific moment of interruption, or that two ongoing actions were happening at the same time. Read on for detailed descriptions, examples, and past continuous exercises.
Past Continuous Forms
The past continuous is formed using was/were + present participle. Questions are indicated by inverting the subject and was/were. Negatives are made with not.
Statement: You were studying when she called.
Question: Were you studying when she called?
Negative: You were not studying when she called.
The trick is this: Even if there is not actual "when" or "while" or "as" in the sentence, these are always implied.
This is always the idea of something that defines the moment in time when the was/verbING is being used.
So, "He was saying that he is going to leave soon." would imply either:
- as he was getting ready to leave.
- when we arrived at the house.
Those are examples of implied time limiters.
The he said/he says examples are obvious.
One is present; one is past.
The present continuous can be used with a simple past tense.
- He said we have a good chance of winning the game.
He said it in the past, but the game has not yet been played.
If the game had been played, he would have said:
- He said we had a good chance of winning the game. [the game has been played]