El pasado continuo

El pasado continuo

El pasado continuo es uno de los tiempos verbales más usados ​​que tenemos en inglés. En esta lección, aprendemos cuándo usar el tiempo pasado continuo, cómo usarlo y sus diferentes usos.

NOTA: el tiempo pasado continuo también se conoce comúnmente como el tiempo pasado progresivo.

When to use the Past Continuous tense?

Usamos el pasado continuo cuando queremos hablar de lo que estaba pasando en un momento particular del pasado. Imagina que acabas de llegar a casa de una fiesta y tu padre te confronta. Te dice que te ha estado esperando durante una hora y te pregunta: “¿Qué estabas haciendo cuando te llamé?”.

Ahora, vas a usar el tiempo pasado continuo para enmarcar la respuesta a la pregunta mientras pregunta qué estabas haciendo en ese momento.

Possible replies:

  • My phone was getting charged, and I was discussing something with Ron.
  • I was eating dinner.
  • I was driving the car.

Fíjate en todas estas oraciones, estamos usando el tiempo pasado continuo para hablar sobre lo que estaba sucediendo en un momento determinado del pasado. No hemos mencionado el marcador de tiempo pasado ya que él (padre) ya conoce la hora.

Structure: subject + was/were + V1+ing + past time marker

WAS: singular subjects (I, he, she, it & singular noun names)
WERE: plural subjects (We, they, you & plural noun names)

PAST TIME MARKERS: last night, yesterday, in the morning, two hours ago, 7 pm, when you called, some time back, last year, last month, etc.

Examples:-

  • I was partying with my friends last night.
  • He was sleeping when you called.
  • They were playing cricket in the morning.
  • She was calling me an hour ago.
  • My friends were talking about you last night.
  • Were you sleeping in the exam room?
  • Some kids were fighting in front of my house.

Nota: Es importante mencionar el tiempo de la acción en tiempo pasado continuo. Si no se menciona el tiempo de la acción, entiéndase que la entiende el oyente o el lector.

Ahora, veamos todos los usos del pasado continuo en inglés.

1. An ongoing action in the past

Este es el uso más común del tiempo pasado continuo para hablar sobre lo que continuaba/ocurría en un momento determinado del pasado.

Examples:

  • She was teaching digital marketing.
  • I was talking to your mother in the morning.
  • Yesterday at the time, I was writing an article.
  • They were drinking on the terrace last night.
  • He was talking to students one by one between 7 pm and 8 pm.
  • At 11 ‘0 clock, we were eating dinner.
  • What were you doing 10 minutes ago?

NOTA: puede usar otra acción pasada (tiempo pasado simple) para referirse al tiempo de la acción.

  • We were partying when you were in the office.
  • When she reached the station, I was watching my favorite series: FRIENDS.

2. Interrupted action

Comúnmente usamos el tiempo pasado continuo para hablar sobre acciones que estaban ocurriendo en el pasado y fueron interrumpidas por una acción corta (más corta que la acción progresiva) en el tiempo pasado simple.

Examples:

  • I was sleeping when you called.
    (The continuous action of sleeping got interrupted/stopped because of another action: you called.)
  • We were watching movies when my parents came back home.
  • She was eating dinner when the bell rang.
  • They were playing games on their phones when the boss entered into the meeting.

3. Multiple progressive actions (parallel actions)

También usamos este tiempo verbal para hablar de dos o más acciones que sucedieron simultáneamente en algún momento del pasado.

Examples:

  • While you were playing games on your phone, I was taking notes.
  • While all of you were enjoying the food, I was working hard on my project.
  • Last night, we were drinking on the terrace, making fun of each other, calling each other by funny names, and playing games.
  • Ron was doing his homework while Nancy was talking to her friends.

4. To paint a picture of a past scene

También podríamos usar el pasado continuo para hablar sobre la escena o la atmósfera de un evento en el pasado.

Examples:

  • When I entered the office, my manager was shouting at my team, the HR was explaining the company’s policy to a freshman, some employees were talking to their clients, and the others were sitting idle.
  • When the party started, everyone was having fun. Some people were dancing; some were having snacks; my friends were sitting in a circle and cracking jokes at each other; waiters were serving food at the tables, and a man was yelling at a woman who seemed like his wife.

5. Habitual action in the past

También podemos usar el tiempo pasado continuo para hablar de acciones que se repitieron en el pasado usando constantemente y siempre.

Examples:

  • As much as I can recall, he was always cracking jokes and making everybody laugh.
  • She was always coming late to the class and irritating the teacher.
  • My mother was constantly giving me lectures on the importance of food at the time of eating dinner.
  • Jenny was always changing her boyfriends.

POSITIVE SENTENCE
The past continuous tense positive sentence structure

Subject Auxiliary verb (was/were) Present participle (V1+ing) object/modifier
I was sleeping at this time yesterday.
We were partying last night.

NEGATIVE SENTENCE
The past continuous tense negative sentence structure

Subject was/were + not Present participle (V1+ing) object/modifier
I was not doing anything.
He was not working out in the morning.

INTERROGATIVE SENTENCE
The past continuous tense interrogative sentence structure

Was/were subject Present participle (V1+ing) object/modifier + ?
Were you partying last night?
Was he sleeping with you?

Nota: podemos usar palabras interrogativas (qué, dónde, cuándo, por qué, cómo) antes del verbo auxiliar.

  • What were you doing with my laptop the other day?
  • Why was he arguing with you?
  • When were you making this project?
  • Where were they partying last night?
  • How was she doing it?

The Past Continuous tense + the Simple past tense

Generalmente usamos el tiempo pasado simple con el tiempo pasado continuo en dos casos:

  1. Cuando el tiempo pasado simple se refiere a un momento específico en el que se estaba produciendo el tiempo continuo.
  2. Cuando el tiempo pasado simple interrumpe el tiempo continuo.

Examples:

  1. I was sleeping. (Past continuous)
  2. He woke up. (Simple past)

Podemos combinar estas oraciones y usar el tiempo pasado simple para referirnos a un momento específico en el que estaba ocurriendo la acción en curso. Usaremos la conjunción ‘cuando’ antes del tiempo pasado simple.

  1. I was sleeping when he woke up.
    OR
  2. When he woke up, I was sleeping.

Notice “when you woke up” is also referring to a past time, working as a past time marker.

  1. I was sleeping. (Past continuous)
  2. You rang the bell. (Simple past)

Let’s join them together.

  • I was sleeping when you rang the bell.
    OR
  • When you rang the bell, I was sleeping.

Notice “when you rang the bell” is referring to a past action that interrupts the continuous action. I was sleeping until something happened (you rang the bell).

WHILE vs WHEN

Tanto while como when se usan al comienzo de una cláusula. ‘When’ generalmente se usa antes de una cláusula en tiempo pasado simple y while se usa antes de una cláusula que muestra el tiempo pasado continuo. Mire los siguientes ejemplos para entender sus usos en tiempo pasado:

Examples:

  • While I was recording a lesson, a bike exploded outside my house.
  • I was recording a lesson when a bike exploded outside my house.

Ambas oraciones tienen el mismo significado pero se enfocan en diferentes partes. El primero enfatiza la acción más larga (tiempo pasado continuo), y el segundo se enfoca en la acción más corta (tiempo pasado simple).

Active/passive voice

  • I was writing a book last year. (active voice)
  • He was beating the kids. (active voice)
  • A book was being written by me last year. (passive voice)
  • The kids were being by him. (passive voice)

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