They were playing tennis yesterday morning.
"They were playing" means that they were in the middle of playing tennis. They had started playing, but they hadn't finished.
This is the past continous tense:
Here are some examples of past continous:
1. This time last year I was living in Brazil.
2. What were you doing at 10:00 yesterday?
More examples of Simple Past
The past continous does not tell us whether an action was finished or not. Perhaps it was finished, perhaps not. Compare:
Dan was cooking dinner. (past continous) = He was in the middle of cooking dinner. We don't know whether he finished.
Dan cooked dinner. (simple past) = He began and finished cooking.
We often use the past continous (I was doing) and simple past (I did) together to say that something happened in the middle of something else:
1. My friend was waiting for me, as I left from school.
2. Virat hurt his back while he was catching the ball.
More from Grade 5 English
Identify simple present tense in a sentence. See real world examples where simple present tense is used.
Identify present continuous tense in a sentence. See real world examples where present continuous tens
Identify simple past tense in a sentence. See real world examples where simple past tense is used.