I was advised to ask this question here, which was originally posted here: [https://english.stackexchange.com/q/580212/381160]
I came across this sentence in one of my workbooks:
- We were in a difficult position. We didn't know what to do, so we did nothing / were doing nothing.
The key suggests that this should make use of the past simple, although I can't see any reason why the past continuous is not possible here (apart from the sentence at the beginning, which may suggest that this is some kind of narrative – a sequence of events).
Could you tell me your views about this sentence?
I can imagine two situations:
- We didn't know what to do, so we did nothing. – Because we couldn't figure out the solution, we simply put aside the problem.
- We didn't know what to do, so we were doing nothing. – At that moment of the story, we were not occupied with anything (we were doing nothing).
Can the two tenses be used here, or is there something that would make the sentence incorrect if the past continuous was used?