Could you tell me if there is any difference in meaning between the following sentences?

When I got into the movie industry, I was waiting tables for seven years.

When I got into the movie industry, I had been waiting tables for seven years.

I would've thought that the first sentence isn't grammatically correct, but I hear native English speakers say it. I wander if both are perfectly natural and correct. If so, is there a nuance of meaning between them?

  • Again, there is no evidence of research. Please explain what confuses you on the meaning of these two sentences and the usage of past continuous and past perfect continuous tense.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 10:51
  • The thing is I couldn't see the difference. If you go on the internet and try to find the difference in the context I provided, you will find nothing. Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 10:58
  • The thing is you seem to be posting a lot of questions about the difference in meaning between two sentences and then accepting the first (and very often the only) answer. You've correctly identified the name of the tenses, which I can see in the tags, so why don't you study when these tenses are used? Explain why you think the first is ungrammatical. Are these sentences invented by you, or did you see them in the wild?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 11:03
  • First, I accept answers when they make sense and helpful to me. Second, before I ask something I always do research. I have grammar books. Third, I couldn't explain why my first sentence was incorrect. It just didn't feel right to me, but native English speakers say it. That's the reason why I asked the question: to see the difference. And fourth, English is a nuanced langage. Grammar books on English don't solve all the problems, so, naturally, I ask a lot of questions. I guess this is what this platform is for: to ask questions. Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 12:11

1 Answer 1


The second one clearly indicates that 'getting into the movie industry' marked the end of that seven-year period.

The first sentence could imply that the subject had to spend seven years moonlighting as a waiter before their film career got established.

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