Can the word "ongoing" refer to past process?

Can I say "the game was ongoing when I arrived"?

2 Answers 2


Sure, the adjective means "in progress". When you use it in a past tense narrative it means "in progress at the time of the narrative".

So you can say "The game was ongoing".

This is a little like the slightly confusing word "contemporary", which usually means "close in time to now" but can, in context, mean "close in time to then"


It doesn't sound like a structure that a native English speaker would use. Doing a bit of research on Google made me aware of the fact that one can use 'ongoing' in the past but as an adjective before the noun:

The ongoing game was at its peak when I arrived.

If you want to use it after the verb, I think English usage would tell you that it is better to put it after the present tense:

The elections are currently ongoing, so you still have a chance to vote.

If I put the last example in the past, I do not think it is grammatically incorrect, but I haven't come across on such a structure

The elections were ongoing at that moment, so you still had a chance to vote.

I wonder though if, when we use it before the noun, it has any negative connotation like 'It is ongoing, I wish it would stop' kind of thing...

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