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This question just suddenly somehow popped up in my mind.

Usually what I encountered in a sentence is in the pattern "past tense + past continuous"

E.g.:

I was doing homework when my mum came back.

I would like to know whether it is grammatically okay to use two past continuous tenses in one sentence?

E.g.:

I was laughing so hard when I was watching the video.

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    It's fine and commonly used. Compare "I was watching TV whilst I was eating my lunch". "I was doing my homework while I was listening to the radio". Consider also "Kim was skipping and laughing"; "Ed was moaning and groaning all day long".
    – BillJ
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 12:53

3 Answers 3

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It's correct to use the past continuous 2 times in a single sentence to give background information:

  1. It was pouring with rain and she was wondering what to do.
  2. You weren’t listening to me when I was explaining the rules!
  3. Who were they talking to when you were preparing the report?
  4. I was laughing so hard when I was watching the video.

But we use the past continuous only once when something happened in the middle of something else (e.g.I was doing homework when my mum came back).

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  • This may just be me, but "It was pouring with rain" sounds odd to me - not because of the progressive, but because I would expect "It was pouring rain" instead. Otherwise I think you've nailed this explanation though.
    – Sparksbet
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 15:56
  • @Sparksbet Perhaps, it's really just a matter of preference... "To pour with rain" is an idiom which means "to rain heavily" (idioms.thefreedictionary.com/pour+with+rain) and a "pouring rain" is a very heavy rain. So, both should be fine... Don't you think so?
    – Enguroo
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 2:43
  • "pour with rain" must be an idiom in a different dialect than the one I speak; I can't recall ever hearing it.
    – Sparksbet
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 15:27
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You can also use the past continuous for parallel actions: I was doing my homework when/while my mum was talking on the phone. These are two actions happening at the same time.

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In accordance to the "Timeline" (past,present,future), when you are speaking of a past action that happened during another event is in process, the rules are simple:

  1. When my mum came home, I was doing my homework (continues).
  2. I was doing my homework (continues) at the moment when my mum arrived.

I was laughing when i was watching (is not correct) except you want to imply that you have been laughing as long as you watched the video.

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