the past continuous - definition and synonyms

noun [singular] linguistics  /ˌpɑːst kənˈtɪnjʊəs /
  1. the tense used to talk about actions or behaviour that were begun and ended at some time in the past. The past continuous consists of ‘was’ or ‘were’ and a present participle. For example, in the sentences ‘She was shaking with cold’ and ‘Were they telling the truth?’, the verb groups ‘was shaking’ and ‘were telling’ are past continuous.