Past tense -- past progressive (2)



Forms:I was studing English.

We use the past progressive to say that something was in progress around a particular past time.
   What were you doing at eight o'clock yesterday evening? I was studing English.(Not What did you do…?~ I studied English.)

The past progressive is used for temporary actions and situations. When we talk about longer, more permanent situations we use the simple past.
    It happened while I was living in Canada last year.
    I lived in Canada for ten years while I was a child.

Compare with simple past :  we often use the past progressive together with a simple past tense. The past progressive refers to a longer 'background' action or situationl the simple past refers to a shorter action or event that happened in  the middle of the longer action, or that interrupted it.
   As I was walking down the road, I saw Jane.
   Mozart died while he was composing the Requiem.

Because we often use the past progressive to talk about something that is a 'background', not the main 'news', we can make something seem less important by using this tense.
   I had lunch with the President yesterday. (important piece of news)
   I was having lunch with the President yesterday, and she said …(as if there was nothing special for the speaker about lunching with the President)