The Past Continuous with Question Words

You will study The Past Continuous with Question Words.


The Past Continuous with Question Words

The Cold War

Instructions: Read the text about the Cold War. Look at the words in bold.

What was happening during the Cold War?

During the Cold War a clash of very different beliefs and ideology – capitalism versus communism- each held with almost religious conviction, formed the basis of an international power struggle with both sides vying for dominance, exploiting every opportunity for expansion anywhere in the world. Many major crises occured: the Berlin Crisis, the Vietnam war, The Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Arab-Israeli conflict being just some. For many, the growth in weapons of mass destruction was the most worrying issue.


Getting started: Anticommunist Vs. Pro-Communist

Instructions: Read the text again to do the suggested activities.

The Cold War is a term used to describe the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (1945 to 1990). Neither side ever fought the other – the consequences would be too appalling –but they did fight for their beliefs using client states who fought for their beliefs on their behalf; e.g. South Vietnam was anticommunist and was supplied by America during the war while North Vietnam was pro-Communist and fought the south (and the U.S.) using weapons from communist Russia or communist China. In Afghanistan, the Americans supplied the rebel Afghans after the Soviet Union invaded in 1979 while they never physically involved themselves thus avoiding a direct clash with the Soviet Union. This lack of mutually understanding an allien culture, would lead the world down a very dangerous path – it led to the development of weapons of awesome destructive capability and the creation of some intriguing policies such as MAD –Mutually Assured Destruction.

The US vs. The USSR

Instructions: Drag and drop a question for each answer.

Who was South Vietnam fighting for?
Why was the world suffering?
How long were the U.S. and the Soviet Union fighting?
How were they fighting?

They were facing the Cold War for 45 years.

They were using other states that fought for their beliefs.

South Vietnam was fighting for Americans.

The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were creating weapons of massive destruction.

The Past Continuous with Question Words

Let’s learn how to use the Past Continuous with Question Words.

Instructions: Read about the Past Continuous with Question Words.

The Past Continuous is used to indicate that:

  1. A long action in the past was interrupted by a shorter action (usually expressed in the Simple past).

    Examples: When the murder took place, where was she hiding?

    Notice that, in these cases, the time connector when is used with the simple past and the connector while is used with the past continuous.

  2. A long action in the past was taking place or interrupted at a specific time.

    Examples: Where was she hiding at the time of the murder?

    Last night at 6 pm, where were you eating dinner?

  1. Several actions are taking place at the same time in the past (“parallel actions”).

    Examples: Who was detective Hercule Poirot questioning while Superintendent

    Sugden was observing the crime scene?

    While Ellen was reading, what was Tim watching?

  2. Parallel actions in the past continuous are often used to describe the atmosphere of a particular time in the past.

    Examples: Where were the passengers waiting for Hercule Poirot?

    What were the two men doing, while a woman was whispering something to her husband, and the maid was crying in a corner?

Look at the word order in the interrogative form with question words:

Question word Where What When Why
Auxiliary To Be (Past Tense) were was were were
Subject you she you they
Verb + ING watching reading playing writing
Complement? TV when the lights turned off? when her father called? when it started to rain? when the principal got into the classroom?
Answers In my bedroom. She was reading a novel. Yesterday afternoon. They were doing an exam.


What’s the pronoun?

Instructions: Match the pronoun to the noun:

How long

1. were they cooking when the boss arrived?

2. was she studying yesterday night?

3. was playing the piano while I spoke?

4. were you watching the movie?

5. was he trying to call me?

6. was she coming from school?

7. were the students playing in the yard?


The Conflicts

Evaluation: Mexican immigrant population

Instructions: Chose the best option for each question.

  1. Who / Which countries were fighting in the Cold war?
  2. Where / what were they fighting?
  3. Whose / who was directing the North Korean war?
  4. Which / Why were the South and the North Vietnam fighting?
  5. What / When was the U.S. winning the war?
  6. How / How long were they fighting?
  7. What / Which kind of weapons were they using?

Evaluation: The fight

Personal pronouns

Instructions: Rewrite the sentences, so it has no mistakes.

  1. Whose was the U.S. doing during the Cold War?
  2. Why countries were supporting the Soviet Union?
  3. How long was they fighting?
  4. Which were they fighting?
  5. Why was they fighting?
  6. When were the U.S. winning the war?
  7. What were happening in 1990?
  8. doneCheck