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The past continuous tense


Прошедшее длительное время выражает прошедшее длительное действие, когда важно подчеркнуть сам процесс действия, его продолженность.


Для образования этой грамматической формы используется вспомогательный глагол to be в форме прошедшего времени (was для единственного числа и wereдля множественного) и причастие I (Participle I) смыслового глагола.

I, he, she, it was doing something

You, we, they were doing something


1. Для выражения действия, длившегося в определенный момент в прошлом, который обозначен обстоятельством времени, либо другим действием в прошлом:

I was writing a letter at five o’clock yesterday.

She was speaking by the phone when her husband came.

При этом ни начало, ни конец длительного действия не известны, а также не известно, как долго это действие длилось.

2. Для выражения длительного прошедшего действия, протекавшего в определенный период времени в прошлом. На этот момент указывают следующие обстоятельства времени:

from 6 to / till 7 Jane was cleaning the flat from 6 till 7 yesterday.

all day long We were walking in the forest all day long.

the whole day yesterday He was sleeping the whole day yesterday.

И в этом случае начало и конец длительного действия не известны, важно только, что оно длилось весь указанный период времени.

3. Для выражения одновременных длительных действий в прошлом, при этом придаточное предложение обычно вводится союзом while, а в главном предложении также можно использовать the Past Simple.

The children were playing in the garden while their mother was knitting.

As I was taking a shower, mother was cooking breakfast.

She watched TV while the children were playing in the garden.

While Nancy was cooking dinner her husband read the newspaper.

4. Для обозначения характеристики человека (чаще всего негативной) в эмоционально окрашенной речи.

This dealer was always talking about money!

Whenever I met Peter he was constantly talking about his car.

The Past Continuous не употребляется с глаголами, которые обозначают состояние. Список этих глаголов представлен в учебнике И.В.Змиевой «Practical English Grammar Handbook» на стр.24.


Exercise 122. Comment on the use of the Past Continuous, translate sentences into Russian / Ukrainian.

1. Around us people were talking German, Italian and English. 2. Robert was talking to some of the other guests on the terrace when Hardy came in. 3. Michael was continually looking at his watch. 4. – He wasn't staying in the house, was he? – No, but he was dining there that evening. 5. All night long the stars were glittering. 6. Lizzie was busily eating and didn't raise her head. 7. She was always saying that only Belinda knew how to treat men. 8. I saw Irene yesterday at the Stores; she and Mr Bosinney were having a nice little chat in the Gro­ceries. 9. A few minutes later Dixon was hurrying through the streets to his bus stop. 10. They moved across the room, which was starting to fill up, to a vacant corner. 11. She was trying to open her bag as she walked by Annabel's side along the corridor, talking. Her hands were trembling. 12. He drank some of the wine and ate several chunks of bread while he was waiting for his dinner to come up. 13. Now I'll be able to get my own back on you, you were always chipping me about the Grammar School. 14. The house was humming with activity. The fami­ly was preparing for a party. 15. "Size," said Mrs Stubbs. "Give me size." That was what my poor dear husband was always saying. He couldn't stand anything small.

Exercise 123. Open the brackets using the Past Continuous:

A. 1. On that special day Grandma was in her best clothes, she …… (wear) net gloves and a hat. 2. The child's eyes …… (shine) with excitement as he stared at the rows and rows of toys in this fantastic shop. 3. The scientists …… (work) around the clock; they …… (try) to raise funds for further research. 4. She looked out of the window and saw that the children …… (return) slowly from school. 5. When we …… (meet) for the first time, he …… (sell) newspapers on the streets. 6. At exactly this time yesterday they …… (have) a briefing. 7. What you …… (do) when I …… (call) you? You …… (sleep) or what? 8. We …… (have) a very lazy holiday. We …… (play) tennis, …… (visit) friends, the children …… (swim) and …… (sunbathe). 9. Gwenny still …… (leaf) through the magazines when I returned to the parlour. 10. The middle-aged couple next to me …… (discuss) their plans for Christmas – who to invite out. 11. The police who …… (investigate) the crime at the moment, …… (can) find no clues at all. 12. I know that you thought that I …… (be stubborn) the other day. 13. The train …… (speed) past hills full of cows and sheep.

B. It …… (snow) again. It …… (be) gorgeous. Just like a fairyland. All white. And the snow …… (glisten) in the sun. But the snow flakes …… (be) light, and as I …… (glance) out the I …… (notice) that they …… (melt) the moment they …… (hit) pavement so it …… (can) not be the weather which …… (make) Andrew late getting home. "I think the traffic and the snow …… (hold) him up," Sarah said. "If it …… (snow) in Connecticut, it …… (can) (slow) Andrew down, and everyone else who …… (come) back to the city on Sunday night. There …… (be) probably a backup of cars. "That's true, yes," I …… (say), seizing on this possibility, wanting to ease my worry. But the fact …… (be), Andrew was never late, and that was what …… (trouble) me now. Sarah …… (know) it well as I …… (do), but neither of us …… (voice) this thought at the moment.

Exercise 124. Give full answers to the following questions.

1. What were you doing while I was washing up? 2. What were you reading while I was writing an essay? 3. What was Nick doing while Nelly was washing? 4. What was mother doing while Nick was taking his bath? 5. What was father doing while Nelly was laying the table? 6. What was the mother doing while the children were eating their breakfast? 7. What was Nelly doing while Nick was drinking tea? 8. What was Nick doing while Nelly was looking at herself in the mirror? 9. What was Nelly doing while father was putting on his coat? 10. What was mother doing while they were leaving home? 11. What were you doing while it was raining? 12. What were you doing while the children were sliding on the ice?

Exercise 125. Open the brackets using the Past Continuous.

1. We …… (wait) for you at five yesterday. 2. They …… (discuss) this question, when we came in. 3. What you …… (do) at three p.m. on Monday? 4. I …… (sleep) from six till seven the day before yesterday. 5. While Mary …… (study), Jack …… (try) to learn a poem by heart. 6. At this time yesterday we …… (not smoke), we …… (dye) our hair green. 7. – What Jim …… (do), when you …… (phone) him? – He …… (take) a shower. 8. – Where you …… (be) at four on Tuesday? – I …… (be) at home. I …… (have) dinner. 9. At that moment the doctor …… (feel) his patient’s pulse. 10. I …… (not come) home at six on Thursday, I …… (see) my friend off at the railway station. 11. Why they …… (listen) so attentively to what the lecturer …… (say)? 12. At that time I still …… (date) my future wife. 13. It all happened, when our family …… (travel) around the world. 14. So, he …… (not go) anywhere, was he?

Exercise 126. Translate into English.

1. Что вы делали, когда я вам позвонил? 2. Что она писала, когда мама вошла в комнату? 3. С кем она разговаривала, когда я видел ее? 4.Что вы искали, когда я открыл дверь? 5. Над чем они смеялись, когда я вошел? 6. Что именно вы слушали, когда магнитофон сломался? 7. Что они делали, когда начался дождь? 8. Что она делала, когда начался пожар? 9. Во что играли дети, когда я к вам зашел? 10. Что она готовила, когда Джон пришел домой?

Exercise 127. Think of the questions to which the following might be the answers.

1. At 7 o’clock he was just getting up. 2. At that time I was seeing my guest off. 3. At ten o’clock she was walking her dog. 4. When I saw him, he was opening the door of your house. 5. While Nelly was washing, Nick was taking his bath. 6. She was pouring out tea when I brought in the cake. 7. It was raining heavily from morning till night yesterday. 8. When the telephone rang they were dancing in the sitting-room. 9. While mother was greeting the guests Nelly was cutting bread and butter. 10. When the bell rang they were all sleeping. 11. In the kitchen she was hurriedly cooking dinner. 12. They were having a walk in the park.

Exercise 128. Answer the questions using the word-combinations from the brackets.

1. When did you cut finger? (cook dinner) 2. When did you switch off the light? (leave home) 3. When did the alarm-clock ring? (already get up) 4. When did you meet him? (walk in the park) 5. When did she leave? (dance) 6. When did it begin raining? (wash up after dinner) 7. When did he ring you up? (cook scones for my tea-party) 8. When did she arrive? (have dinner) 9. When did you last see him? (leave after our dancing-party) 10. When did you catch cold? (air the room) 11. When did you break the plate? (carry the dishes into the kitchen) 12. When did she break her arm? (slide on the frozen pond)

Exercise 129. Translate into English.

1. Что ты делала, пока я мыла посуду? 2. Он позвонил, когда мы обедали. 3. Вчера в это время я только подъезжала к Харькову. 4. Пока мама накрывала на стол, дети умывались. 5. С 10 до 5 я работал в своей лаборатории. 6. Она разговаривала с гостями и разливала чай. 7. Она накрывала на стол, а молодежь танцевала. 8. Пока ребенок спал, она готовила обед. 9. Когда ребенок проснулся, она как раз заканчивала мыть посуду. 10. Когда он позвонил, мы завтракали. 11. Она не выходила на улицу, потому что шел сильный дождь. 12. Таяло (to thaw), и дети не пошли на каток.

Exercise 130. Match the sentences joining them with when, while, and.

1. John was listening to the radio A. they drove away.

2. Peter was swimming B. the batteries ran out.

3. He fell over C. his sister was sunbathing.

4. The robbers stole the car D. her pen broke.

5. Helen was writing a letter E. he was crossing the road.

Exercise 131. Complete the following sentences.

1. I realized at once ……. 2. When I looked in ……. 3. I noticed her for the first time ……. 4. The girl was still there ……. 5. I was taking my second cup of coffee ……. 6. I was getting ready to get off the bus ……. 7. We were approaching the post-office ……. 8. He was writing the last lines of the composition ……. 9. The guide was taking a small group of tourists round the place ……. 10. She was wearing her hair long …….

Exercise 132. Translate into English.

1. Спектакль длился несколько часов. Когда мы вы­ходили из театра, мы увидели нескольких знакомых. 2. Он думал неделю и затем принял решение. 3. Он смотрел на огонь в камине и о чем-то думал. 4. В про­шлом семестре мы часто посещали студенческие ве­чера. 5. Когда дети пришли домой, тети не было дома. Она навещала родственников. 6. Когда ты мне позво­нил, я как раз думал о тебе. 7. – Сколько времени ты набирал этот текст на компьютере? – Я работал два часа. 8. В воскресенье мы долго гуляли по лесу. 9. – Как долго ты училась в школе управления? – Три года. 10. Они были партнерами, но затем расстались, так как больше не доверяли друг другу. 11. Она полистала журнал минут пятнадцать и пошла готовить ужин. 12. – Как долго ты был в армии? – Я три года служил на флоте. 13. Она написала этот ро­ман неделю. 14. Александр был очень занят. Он писал статью для журнала.

Exercise 133. Put the verbs in brackets in the correct tense, the Past Simple or the Past Continuous.

Last year I …… (go) to Greece for my holidays. I …… (decide) to fly because it is much quicker than going overland. On the morning I left London, it …… (rain), but when I …… (step) off the plane in Greece, it …… (be) a beautiful day. The sun …… (shine), and a cool wind …… (blow) from the sea. I …… (take) a taxi to my hotel. As I …… (sign) a register, someone …… (tap) me on the shoulder. I …… (turn) round. It was a friend I hadn’t seen for ten years. He …… (stay) at the same hotel. That evening we …… (go) for a walk. The town was still very busy. Street traders …… (sell) souvenirs, and the foreign tourists …… (try) to bring down the price with the aid of a Greek phrase book. We …… (listen) to their chatter for a while, then returned to our hotel.

Exercise 134. Put in the correct form of the verb – the Past Continuous or the Past Simple.

Rita: I hear the lights …… (go) out in your flats last night.

Emma: Yes, I …… (watch) a documentary on TV when suddenly we …… (lose) all the power. But it ……(come) on again after about ten minutes.

Vicky: Rachel …… (come) down the stairs when the lights …… (go) out. She almost …… (fall) over.

Daniel: Matthew and I …… (play) table tennis at the time.

Andrew: I ……(work) on the computer. I …… (lose) a whole hour's work. But this morning I …… (get) up early and …… (do) it again.

Exercise 135. Translate into English.

1. У него алиби, инспектор. В прошлую субботу в 9 часов вечера он сидел в пивной. Многие люди могут подтвердить это. 2. Извините, но я не мог присоеди­ниться к вам, потому что смотрел свой любимый фильм. 3. – Чем сейчас занимается твой сын? – Го­товится к вступительным экзаменам в университет. 4. Вечером мы поехали в центр города. Множество людей смотрели концерт на Красной площади, неко­торые пели, другие танцевали. 5. Они уже опаздыва­ли, но не могли выйти, потому что шел сильный дождь. 6. Кто-то стучал в дверь, но мы никого не ждали. 7. Никто не мог понять, что происходило. 8. Когда мы пришли в офис, все обсуждали последние события. 9. В доме было спокойно: тикали часы, кошка играла с мячиком, собака спала у камина, дети собирали но­вую игру. 10. Все были очень заняты – они готови­лись к отъезду. 11. Вчера он целый день лежал на диване: читал, спал, смотрел телевизор. 12. Мы виде­ли, что он пытался помочь своим друзьям. 13. Идея осенила Норриса, когда он наслаждался сигарой.