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We were cooking all morning because we had 15 people coming to lunch.

We were cooking all morning because there were 15 people coming to lunch.

What is the difference?

Many thanks.

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    The title asks about different tenses but the examples in the question use the same tense.
    – Lawrence
    Oct 26, 2021 at 9:49

1 Answer 1

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The second parts of the two statements have different meanings on their own. "We had 15 people coming to lunch" says that "we" were responsible for them; in some sense they were our 15 people. Often it is because we invited them, or because we have accepted the task of feeding them. "There were 15 people coming to lunch" says that the people were coming, but not that we were responsible for them.

In combination with the first clause ("We were cooking all morning because") it is clear that we had accepted the task and were preparing food for the 15 people. The two full statements effectively mean the same thing, that we were cooking all morning in order to feed the 15 people who would arrive for lunch.

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