Which one is correct?

  1. She is not as friendly as I thought.

  2. She is not as friendly as I was thinking.

Both the past simple and the past continuous tense refer to an action made in the past. Which tense should I use in the examples above and why?

  • She's not as friendly as I thought.
    – Khan
    Nov 5, 2016 at 7:02
  • 2
    I think both are correct, but we tend to use 'simple past' tense rather than than 'past continueous tense to talk about our thinking in the past to comare to the present(she is friendly)
    – yubraj
    Nov 5, 2016 at 9:03

2 Answers 2


Two examples:

She isn't as friendly as I thought.

She isn't as friendly as I was thinking.

I think both of these examples are gramatically correct depending on the context. In your first example, "I thought" refers to your thinking which existed in the past but doesn't exist in the present moment. In the same way, In your second example, 'I was thinking' also refers to your past-thinking but It's in continueous form. It means you were thinking in the past that she was friendly.

Both of examples could be understood as follows:

She isn't as friendly as I thought she was friendly.

She isn't as friendly as I was thinking she was friendly.

What I think the difference between these two examples is- In the first example, 'I thought' refers to simple past Tense and in the second example 'I was thinking' refers to past continueous Tense.

  • 2
    The verb "think" has basically two main meanings, the first describes what we do in our minds when faced with a problem, "Be quiet, I'm thinking here (I'm contemplating / figuring out something)" The second meaning is "opinion" A: Who do think will win the election in November? B: I don't know, I think that both candidates are pretty awful, and anyone could win. Usually, the activity, (contemplate / ponder) can be an act in progress, while "think" = to have an opinion is not usually an action in progress.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 5, 2016 at 11:37
  • 1
    Although the two sentences in the OP are grammatical, only one is idiomatic.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 5, 2016 at 11:38
  • Can we consider the first "think" in the example means an " opinion" or a fact ? that the speaker took it for granted that she was friendly, he did not contemplating in her, and in the second one as the speaker was actually contemplating for some time in her in the past ? Nov 5, 2016 at 13:04
  • @GamalThomas No, then it ought to be "she is not as friendly as I have been thinking" which either implies that I've been actively contemplating it or at least that this opinion has come up multiple times and I'm only now changing it to think that she isn't so friendly. Simple past still seems a more natural option, though.
    – Emmabee
    Nov 7, 2016 at 3:37

"as I was thinking" implies that the change in thinking occurred very recently, perhaps in the momentary past because of something that happened in the momentary past. E.g., "when I went to pay, I found I hadn't brought as much money as I was thinking I had": right up until I looked in my wallet (the disconfirming event), I was [still] thinking that I'd brought enough money for my purposes.

"as I thought" implies that the thought process had completed and some time had passed before the event occurred that made her seem not so friendly after all. E.g., "I thought [when I left the house, that] I had brought enough money with me. But it's not in my wallet -- where did it go?!?"

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