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I’ve got two questions that have been puzzling me for the last two days

He was working as a doctor when I met him He worked as a doctor when I met him

I lived there when the war happened I was living there while the war was happening

Are these structures correct ? If yes, what are the differences between them?

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  • Note that when the war happened normally refers to a single date (when war broke out, started). But while the war was happening (not particularly idiomatic by comparison with during the war) refers to the entire period from then until the ending of hostilities. Oct 11, 2019 at 16:31

2 Answers 2

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He worked as a doctor when I met him.

The first action seems to be completed and hence sounds wrong and unnatural to me.

The above sentence seems wrong to me.

He was working as a doctor when I met him.

You met him when he was working as a doctor.He worked as a doctor later too.

I lived there when the war happened.

You might not be there when the war continued.

I was living there while the war was happening.

Two activities were happening at the same time.

You were there during the entire war period

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I have been having difficulties with this as well, but this I know for sure: "I was living there when the war was happening" means that during the war you were living there. It doesn't say anything about the time before or after the war. It could be a temporary thing. "I was working as a doctor when I met her" could mean that working as a doctor was temporary.

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