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  1. Tom Cruise was thinking of a career in the church before finding job in the movies.

  2. Tom Cruise wasn't thinking of a career in the church after finding job in the movies.

Please tell me, why is Past Continuous used here? I was tought that a normal variant of this sentence is:

  1. Tom Cruise thought of a career in the church before finding job in the movies.

Or that is because of the gerund "finding"? I mean if for example I wrote the sentence like this:

  1. Tom Cruise thought of a career in the church before he found job in the movies.
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    As a side note, you should be using an indefinite article in all of those sentences: a job. Also, the indefinite article aside, all of those sentences are grammatical and normal. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Mar 15 at 14:42
  • @Jason Bassford, thanks for correcting! But what is the difference between them? I guess that Continuous is used for emphasizing. Isn't it? Or it changes the senses? – user79871 Mar 15 at 15:21
  • @Jason Bassford I start thinking that #3 is not correct. Because of the gerund after "before". Maybe there is some rule that tells us something like "-ing with -ing" and "simple past with simple past"? – user79871 Mar 16 at 14:34
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“Was thinking of” vs “thought of”- when you think about something, there is no definite start and end point, so either the past continuous (progressive) or the simple past is fine. In other words, “to think of (or about)” in this context is something that takes time, so the simple past can be thought of as having this sense of happening over time built into it.

Either “before he found” or “before finding” works here, and they are interchangeable. It doesn’t matter what version of “to think” you use. You could also say

Tom Cruise was thinking about a career in the church before he found a job in the movies.

  • Thanks, now after all I got it! But what does it mean " happening over time built into it"? Time built into what? – user79871 Mar 17 at 14:41
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    @user79871 Maybe I didn’t phrase that well. I just meant that when you think about something, it takes time. I was trying to say that the term “thought of” implies “thought about for a period of time.” So it’s not very different from “was thinking of,” which you know is over a period of time, since it’s the past progressive tense. – Mixolydian Mar 17 at 16:08

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