They were playing(play) football yesterday from 13:00 to 15:00.
They played(play) football yesterday from 13:00 to 15:00.

At 8.30am today I was driving(drive) to work.
At 8.30am today I drove(drive) to work.

We were sleeping(sleep) at 11pm. when he came back home.
We slept(sleep) at 11pm. when he came back home.

I was studying(study) English at that time.
I studied(study) English at that time.

Should I use past or past continuous if I mention exact time period?

  • You can use the past continuous to describe an event that was in progress at a specific time in the past: At 7:30 this morning, I was waiting for the bus. If we're not stating the progress of the action in the past and we mean a finished action, you use the past simple.
    – Schwale
    Mar 3, 2016 at 13:48

1 Answer 1


Tip: Be sure to use "past continuous," not "past continues."

Mentioning an exact time period in a sentence does not determine which verb form you should use. It's the meaning you want your sentence to have that makes the difference.

The following site http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastcontinuous.html uses these example...

Last night at 6 PM, I ate dinner.

Last night at 6 PM, I was eating dinner.

The first sentence means, I started eating dinner at 6 pm. The second sentence means that I started eating earlier than 6 pm, but at 6 pm I was still in the process of eating.

Take a look at the website I gave above. It is very helpful and easy to understand.

I hope this helps!

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