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Example: He has a car but yesterday he ______ by cab

  1. Was leaving
  2. Left

Could I use both options? And which one sounds better?

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  • Hi, this question is a little off-topic at the moment. You haven't shown any research into the difference or said why you don't understand the difference. You've also asked "which one sounds better", which is opinion-based. Can you add some more detail to avoid it being closed? – Astralbee Nov 6 '20 at 12:16
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It depends what you wish to convey. That is, there is context required to decide.

Consider this graphic.

enter image description here

The phrase "was leaving" indicates a process that took place over time. So if you say "yesterday he was leaving by cab" then that's like the first version. The "leaving" is the yellow bar that covers some finite time.

If you say "yesterday he left by cab" then that's like the second one. It's a single event that happens at a moment. Or, for purposes of writing a sentence, a very short duration that you don't want to divide into smaller parts.

Think of it another way. If you say "he was leaving" then he might have been interrupted during his leaving. He might have paused. Or changed his mind. Or you might intend to say that his leaving involved many other sub-events such as saying goodbye to each person, putting on a lot of clothes, checking his tickets, etc.

But if you want to refer to the specific event you would just say "he left."

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