A: Are you sure they're the enemy?

B: They shot at me./They were shooting at me.

  1. Are these interchangeable in every way?

  2. Are they equally natural in the context?

  3. If it was repeated firing, would the past continuous be more natural?

  • I would understand 'shot at' to refer to one shot, 'shooting at' to be repeated. Mar 7, 2021 at 11:31

1 Answer 1


To answer your question, we would require more context.

It's not clear whether the shooting refers to a single shot or a series of shots/volleys over a period of time.

If they just shot at you, the implication is either a single shot or several shots in quick succession. But this remains uncertain.

If they were shooting at you, the implication is of a more prolonged attack and the past continuous would fit the context better.

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