Is the sentence

"He repaired his car the whole day"

grammatical or not?

Can Past Simple (He repaired) be used with the whole day instead of Past Continuous (He was repairing)? And if both constructions are correct, what is the difference between

He repaired his car the whole day


He was repairing his car the whole day?

  • Where's past continuous there?
    – Maulik V
    Jan 23, 2018 at 9:08
  • One of my students wrote the sentence He repaired his car the whole day , and the teacher said that this sentence was not correct,and the only acceptable variant was in Past Continuous, that is He was repairing the car the whole day.
    – Fatimahon
    Jan 23, 2018 at 9:52
  • One of the difficulties with this sentence is that the verb "repair" combined with the simple past makes it seem like you're describing the moment when the repair was complete; that is, "repaired" sounds like a synonym for "finished working on." But then, when you add the phrase, "the whole day," this conflicts with that perceived meaning of "finished working on," and that's why this sentence sounds wrong to a native speaker. Jan 23, 2018 at 15:02
  • And if instead of "fix a car" there were some other verb, for example do homework, would it be natural to use past simple with the whole day, that is to say He did homework the whole day.
    – Fatimahon
    Jan 25, 2018 at 0:44

1 Answer 1


You wouldn't say "He repaired his car the whole day" because as one of the commenters said, simple past is used to express that an action was completed.

If you say "He repaired his car yesterday" that means he completed the action and his car is now fixed.

If you want to express that he was engaged in the activity of repairing his car for the entire day (and may or may not have successfully completed the repair), the most natural way to say that would be:

He spent the whole day repairing his car.

"He was repairing his car the whole day" is perfectly fine, and I think would be a natural answer to a question like "Why wasn't John at the softball game yesterday?" In response you might say, "He couldn't make it. He was repairing his car the whole day."

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