Robin Hood was a character who ________ from the rich and ____ to the poor. a. stole/ gave b. was stealing/ was giving What is the write answer and why?

  • The usual formulation is robbed / gave.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 17:18
  • @Robusto: I don't much like robbed from - to my ear the preposition is actually "awkward", rather than just "unnecessary". See this NGram..., Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 17:42
  • ...which shows that until fairly recently the front-runner was robbed the rich, but in recent decades that's been overtaken by stole from the rich, which has the advantage of "paralleling" the (non-optional) preposition in the contrastive clause ...and gave to the poor. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 17:45
  • @FumbleFingers: I'm old-school. I always heard it as robbed from the rich. Somehow it seems right that Robin was robbin' ...
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 17:56
  • @Robusto: Before I go googling to see if I can find anything about it, I just want to say that the little voice in my head is telling me that 50 years ago when I watched a weekly Robin Hood "soap opera" on TV, the song in the introduction was He steals from the rich, and gives to the poor. But I should also admit that I'm getting to the point where I don't necessarily trust my own recollections, having been proved spectacularly wrong on many occasions since having the benefit of Google to check more easily. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 18:05

3 Answers 3


Robin Hood "stole" from the rich and "gave" to the poor. When talking about regularly occurring activities, use the present tense. For example:

I watch TV every Tuesday afternoon.

She plays the violin whenever she gets bored.

The President formulates the yearly budget, which the Congress then ratifies.

For events that occurred regularly in the past, just use the past simple.

I watched TV every Tuesday when I was younger.

Before she became a professional musician, she played the violin whenever she got bored.

In the past, the President formulated the budget, which the Congress then ratified. Nowadays, the process is much more complicated and interconnected.


One of the uses of the simple past is when something happened again and again in the past but one is interested in the action itself.

ex: I went to school when I was little.
This means I went many times or once but the emphasis is on the action.

Past continuous is usually used to highlight the duration of the action and outside of the classroom it almost always comes in contrast with the simple past.

ex: She was swimming when it began to rain.

So her swimming is shown as an action that took a duration from before the rain and probably until after the rain. the swimming is thus highlithed.

In your example the intuitive answer is A

Robin Hood was a character who _stole_____ from the rich and __gave to the poor.

Because the emphasis is on the action and the moral lesson rather than how many hours it took him to steal and give.

for more info you see the examples in these pages: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/verbs/past-tense/past-simple https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/verbs/past-tense/past-continuous

Do not forget to tick the answer that you find useful.


I guess it should be past simple! Because it was happening from day to day and was a regular thing. It was his sort of hobby.

  • Thnx for answer,.but it is still little bit unclear for me :/ Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 16:38

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