In read below news and I came across below sentence. I want to know exact meaning of this sentence.


"A 22-year-old cab driver who robbed people after offering them shared rides, and got his girlfriend to sit in the taxi as a decoy passenger, was arrested on Thursday with two more accomplices."

a) Can It mean Simple past.

Driver robbed people by offering them shared rides hence arrested by police.

b) can it mean repetative action in past.

Its a regular activity of driver to rob people by offering them shares rides hence police arrested him

How to differentiate Simple past or repetitive/regular activity in the past?

1 Answer 1


This sentence is ambiguous. It could mean either your (a) or (b). We don't know whether this cab driver committed only one robbery in this fashion, or made a habit of it. Without more information, I would tend to assume (b) just because (a) would be less likely to make the news, and indeed if you keep reading the article it becomes clear that he did make a habit of it.

You are perhaps more familiar with a language that insists on a grammatical distinction between "simple past" and "past progressive" or "past habitual" or something like that? English does not insist on that distinction. Ambiguous sentences like this one are common. Usually it will be possible to figure out which is meant from context, but I can imagine a work of fiction that deliberately kept it ambiguous all the way through, or right up until the surprise ending.


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