167. The copulas part 2: past continuous

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Lesson 167: The copulas part 2: past continuous

When we talk about events that happened in the past, sometimes we want to specify that one of the things we were doing, like reading a book, lasted for somewhile. We do this by using the past continuous:

'I was reading a book when the phone rang.'

The italic parts convey the meaning that the action happened in the past, and it lasted a while, or it was incomplete (the book is not finished yet).

In Turkish, to convey this meaning, we combine the continuous marker -(İ)yor and the past copula -(y)Dİ.

Telefon çaldığında kitap okuyordum. I was reading a book when the phone rang.

As usual, the personal suffixes come after -(y)Dİ. When making questions, we put the particle between -(İ)yor and -(y)Dİ. Example:

Sen küçükken annen sana sarılıyor muydu? When you were little, did your mother hug you?

Notice, however, the English version of this sentence make it seem like the hugging took place once. But of course the conveyed meaning is: regularly. As if to say: 'When you were little, was your mother hugging you?'

We use past continuous to contrast between two events, so it is a commonly used tense/aspect in narratives. In the following section we will see a short story that utilizes the past continuous and try to have a better understanding of it.

"Bir pazartesi akşamıydı. Yağmur yağıyordu. Ben matematik sınavım için çalışıyordum. Annem, mutfakta akşam yemeğini hazırlıyordu. Ablam salonda televizyon seyrediyordu. Kedimiz yatağında uyurken, köpeğimiz kemiğiyle oynuyordu. Hepimiz babamın eve gelmesini sabırsızlıkla bekliyorduk. "

"It was a monday evening. It was raining. I was studying for my math test. My mom was preparing dinner in the kitchen. My (elder) sister was watching TV in the living room. While our cat was sleeping in its bed, our dog was playing with its bone. We were all impatiently expecting my dad to come home. "

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