Past Continuous

This is a practical oversimplification which will be right most of the time. For more detailed information see Mastery of the Tenses!
Main Uses for the Past Continuous
"was doing" / "were doing"

For unfinished past actions
  • I was working on my thesis when I met you.
  • I saw you waiting at the bus stop.
  • I wanted to know what they were doing.
For past activities at a specific time in the past
  • When you arrived I was cooking.
  • I was working at 11am.
  • The sun was shining and the birds were singing.
For actions that were interrupted by another
  • The phone rang while I was cooking.
  • The cat ran across me as I was driving.