Devon no longer has the book that the teacher had given him because he was leaving it in the library.

Which tense is correct about the last part: "was leaving"?

  • Welcome to ELL, Elena. We expect people to do a little research before asking a question: in this case, you could find out a little more about the differences between simple past and past continuous by reading an article like this: learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/quick-grammar/…. If that doesn't answer your question, please edit your question to explain what specifically you don't understand, and provide links to the research that you found confusing. – JavaLatte Apr 22 '17 at 11:10

I don't think the example sentence is perfectly idiomatic in its choice of tenses. It begins in the present tense, and so there's no real need for the past perfect, although it is not incorrect.

Devon no longer has the book (that) the teacher gave him.

Why does Devon not have the book any longer?

He left it in the library.

He has left it in the library.

Either of those tense would work, simple past or present perfect. The past refers to the act as something that happened. The present perfect refers to the event from the point of view of the present moment.

I forgot my car keys yesterday and I realize that I have forgotten them again today.

With respect to the continuous, you could say

Devon is developing a bad habit: he has been leaving things wherever he uses them last.

And once this developing habit is fully developed:

Devon leaves things wherever he uses them last.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.