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Once Upon a Time: An Introduction to the Past Continuous Tense Posted by on Jan 7, 2015 in Grammar

Γεια σας! This is the first post of 2015 and it’s about grammar.

by TORLEY under a CC license on Flickr

by TORLEY under a CC license on Flickr

Παρατατικός (paratatikos, Past Continuous) is the tense of narrations and descriptions. It is used in order to describe an action that was being repeated in the past or that had a duration.


Έπινα γάλα κάθε μέρα. (Epeena gala kathe mera). I used to drink milk every day.

Βλέπαμε τηλεόραση όλο το απόγευμα. (Vlepame tileorasi olo to apogevma). We were watching television all afternoon.

Πριν από τρία χρόνια, ο Κώστας πήγαινε στη δουλειά με το ποδήλατο. (Prin apo tria hronia, o Kostas pigaine sti doulia me to podilato). Three years ago Kostas was going to work by bike.


The Past Continuous of the verbs έχω (eho, to have) and είμαι (eemai, to be)

είχα (eeha)                                    ήμουν (eemoun)

είχες (eehes)                                 ήσουν (eesoun)

είχε (eehe)                                     ήταν (eetan)

είχαμε (eehame)                          ήμασταν (eemastan)

είχατε (eehate)                             ήσασταν (eesastan)

είχαν (eehan)                                ήταν (eetan)


Active Voice, 1st conjugation (verbs ending in –ω).

The Past Continuous is formed by the stem of the Present and the endings of the Past Simple, so if you are already familiar with the Present tense it’s very easy to form the Past Continuous:

Πηγαίνω (peeyeno)= to go

πήγαινα (peeyena)= I was going / I used to go

πήγαινες (peeyenes)

πήγαινε (peeyene)

πηγαίναμε (peeyename)

πηγαίνατε (peeyenate)

πήγαιναν (peeyenan)



1) The accent is over the ante-penultimate syllable (the third syllable counting from right to left).

2) The prefix εor –η is added to two-syllable verbs in order to form the singular and the third plural person.

Κάνω (kano)= to do

έκανα (ekana)= I was doing / I used to do

έκανες (ekanes)

έκανε (ekane)

κάναμε (kaname)

κάνατε (kanate)

έκαναν (ekanan)


3) Words and expressions showing repetition:

πάντα (panda)= always

συχνά (seehna)= often

μερικές φορές (merikes fores)= sometimes

κάθε φορά (που) (kathe fora pou)= every time (that)

κάθε μέρα (kathe mera)= every day

κάθε μεσημέρι (kathe mesimeri)= every noon, afternoon etc.

κάθε απόγευμα (kathe apogevma)= every afternoon

κάθε βράδυ (kathe vradee)= every evening

κάθε εβδομάδα (kathe evdomada)= every week

κάθε μήνα (kathe meena)= every month

κάθε χρόνο (kathe hrono)= every year


4) Words and expressions showing duration:

ενώ (eno)= while

καθώς (kathos)= while, as

όλη μέρα (olee mera)= all day

όλο το πρωί (olo to proee)= all morning

όλο το μεσημέρι (olo to mesimeri)= all (early) afternoon

όλο το απόγευμα (olo to apogevma)= all (late) afternoon

όλο το βράδυ (olo to vradee)= all evening

όλη τη νύχτα (olee tee nihta)= all night

όλη την εβδομάδα (olee tin evdomada)= all week


Time to practice! Fill in the blanks of the following sentences putting the verbs in brackets in the Past Continuous.

1. Ο Πέτρος …………………. πυρετό όλο το βράδυ. (έχω)

2. Η Ρένα και η Αθηνά …………………. τους φίλους τους κάθε Σάββατο. (βλέπω)

3. Κάθε Χριστούγεννα (εμείς) …………………. δώρα στα παιδιά μας. (αγοράζω)

4. Όταν (εγώ) …………………. δέκα χρονών …………………. πιάνο και γαλλικά. (είμαι, μαθαίνω)

5. Πότε …………………. στο νοσοκομείο, κυρία Δήμου; (δουλεύω)

6. Η Στέλλα …………………. τα πιάτα από τις 9 ως τις 10. (πλένω)

7. Σοφία, πότε …………………. στη Θεσσαλονίκη; (μένω)

8. Παλιά, η γυναίκα μου κι εγώ …………………. πολύ συχνά. (ταξιδεύω)

You can find the right answers here: paratatikos

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About the Author: Ourania

Ourania lives in Athens. She holds a degree in French Literature and a Master’s degree in Special Education for Children. Since 2008, she has been teaching Greek to foreigners.