I want to tell something that I did in the past, while doing something else, and it (the second activity) is still ongoing. Suppose I want to text my friend and at this time I'm still eating.

'Check this out. I __(watch) this video while I __ (eat). Glad I didn't throw up'.

I repeat, when I text my friend and have done watching the video, I'm still eating. Could you tell me which tenses I should use? I was thinking that I'd say:

'Check this out. I watched this video while I am eating. Glad I didn't throw up'.

Then, I was also considering present perfect progressive, because I started eating in the past, and this event has a connection in the present since the event is ongoing. I.e.

'Check this out. I watched this video while I have been eating. Glad I didn't throw up'.

  • 1
    Note that whilst you could quite naturally say I watched this video while I was eating, you don't actually need to include the two highlighted words there. It's a relatively unusual case where that longer version is more likely in casual colloquial contexts - the shorter I watched this video while eating is a bit more "literary / formal". But syntactically they're both fine. Nov 16, 2021 at 15:02

1 Answer 1


It is still "... while I was eating..." and, yes, that does create an ambiguity on whether you have finished eating or not.

The while phrase gives the time of the event "I watched this video". That time is in the past and so a past tense is needed for "while I was watching". The fact that you are still eating is not relevant, only that you were eating at the time.

There doesn't seem to be a convenient and simple way to say that the activity of eating was ongoing at the time when I watched the vidio and is still ongoing now. However the "while I was eating" form doesn't imply that you've finished eating. The tense in the while clause is limited to defining the time of the main clause.

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