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A fill in the blank from a school's worksheet. What bothers me is the word 'all.' Does it matter in deciding the verbs in this blank?

I ______ (work) on the project all night.

The confusion:

Without any context, it could be had been, have been, or simple past tense. Say:

I had been working on the project all night.
I have been working on the project all night.
I worked on the project all night.

Who knows which night? Last night, the night last week, or the night last year? So with almost all the blanks there!

Does the answer lie in the word 'all'?

What am I missing? What could be the answer?

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, user5267, Nathan Tuggy, Varun Nair, kiamlaluno Sep 11 '17 at 11:47

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  • 1
    The presence or absence of an adverbial clause all [day, night, etc.] has no real bearing on whether to use a Perfect and/or Continuous form. Apart from the fact that when in doubt you should always choose the simpler verb form, your choices are primarily governed by the normal principles: (1) Use a Perfect form if the action is relevant to the narrative reference time, (2) Use the Past Perfect if that reference time is earlier than time of utterance, and (3) Use a continuous form to emphasise the process (rather than the "completion" of an action). – FumbleFingers Sep 10 '17 at 12:55
  • @FumbleFingers if the action is relevant...if that reference time.... No ifs and buts! What could be the answers for the given blanks? There is nothing specified. I mean the time of utterance and so on. Why would I ask if sufficient information is given? – Maulik V Sep 11 '17 at 2:21

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