Why is the past simple and not the present perfect used in the following context?

One day, Jack told Anne about John’s life in Canada. She wrote articles for her school Internet magazine. And she was always looking for new stories.

Why did the author choose to use past simple in (She wrote articles) instead of the present perfect simple or even the past continuous like he did in (And she was always looking), as 'Anne' was still writing articles, in general, at the time of speaking.

Thanks in Advance.


3 Answers 3


It's used to more clearly differentiate between the two meanings of writing for a magazine. It can be both the physical act of writing (pen on paper, on a computer etc.) or it can also mean the act of being employed by the magazine submitting articles sometimes.

By writing it this way, it's shown that we're talking about her being employed by the magazine, and not that she is writing physically while jack is talking. (presumably taking notes about jacks story)


It's perfectly good to write "She was writing articles for her magazine" which can mean one of two things:

  1. At the moment When Jack spoke to her she was actually in the act of writing
  2. or, On the day when Jack spoke to her she was habitually writing

The context which follows ("was always looking") makes it clear that it means 2: it describes a habitual action.

"One day, Jack [did something]" is a typical phrase to introduce an instant, at some unspecified time in the past, which is only notable because of what Jack did that day.

  • It can also mean 3. She used to write. On the day in question, she might have already stopped writing those articles habitually. It's not directly linked to the previous sentence (on the day in question she [still] wrote) but is simply stated in a separate sentence. In the habitual sense, it's not likely that it means she'd stopped writing, but it could. May 1, 2019 at 17:47
  • Thank you for your answer.
    – Laith Leo
    May 2, 2019 at 6:28

One of the uses of the past simple is to indicate activities that the person habitually engaged in. The past continuous is used to indicate an activity that the person was, at that time, engaged in. So by using the simple past, the writer is indicating that she habitually wrote articles, not that she necessarily was at that moment writing. The past perfect is used to indicate an action that is completed. Since the writer wants to discuss ongoing conduct, the past perfect is not appropriate.

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