What has already happened is part of the past . If we place ourselves in a chronological line, the past is what remained behind the current time (the I presented ), while the events that have not yet materialized will take place in the future .
Continuous , on the other hand, is that which remains or develops without suffering interruptions. It is something incessant, lacking breaks or cuts.
These two concepts (past and continuous) come together in a verbal tense of the language English : he past continuous or past continuous at language original. At this time, the action mentioned began to develop in the past (regarding the situation of the speaker) and then extended over time.
For example: "She was reading a book" It is a phrase that can be translated as "She was reading a book". The continuous past indicates that the woman in question, one day ago, read a work; this activity did not necessarily end at that time, but could continue.
Something similar happens with the following expression : “Manuel was talking when his father arrived” ("Manuel was talking when his father arrived"). In this case, the tense indicates that, when your father arrives, Manuel He had already begun to speak: the action, therefore, began before his father arrived.
The past continuous can also be used when we have two past actions, of which one has already ended and the other continues while the first one is completed. The action that ended at the time is expressed in simple past (simple past ), while the other must appear in the past continuous: “When he shouted, I was talking to Sarah” ("When he yelled, I was talking to Sarah").
Although at first glance the simple past and the continuous past seem very easy to distinguish if their definitions are carefully studied, it is worth mentioning that many foreigners use the second instead of the first, probably because of certain idiomatic differences that prevent them from perceiving the application correct of each. For example, to express that "the Romans used shields and spears" the most precise sentence conjugates the verb wear in past simple ("Romans used shields and spears"), and not in past continuous ("Romans were using shields and spears").
As with the present simple and the continuous, the past simple may indicate an action that took place many times over an extended period of time. weather , something that was true in a bygone era ("I went to school by bus", "I went to school by bus"); however, unlike the present simple, it also serves to report an event that occurred only once, at a well-defined moment ("That day I finally understood my father's words", "That day I finally understood my father's words").
The past continuous cannot fulfill any of these functions , but you can give us a context to locate the last example: "That day, while I was reading your book , I finally understood my father's words", "That day, while reading your book, I finally understood my father's words"The action of reading the interlocutor's book may indicate, for example, that thanks to its content the issuer was able to process and understand the message that his father had given him in a previous instance; therefore, said construction is secondary, could be omitted without altering the main meaning of the sentence.
It is important to remember that the English language does not use the term weather to group the possible conjugations of the verbs, but uses the word tense; although in Spanish we translate it as weather, the need to resort to another concept arises because of not having enough conjugations to express all tenses. In English, therefore, many of the tenses denote more than one time, according to the context .