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I didn't understand the exact meaning of this paragraph, could you explain it? The interruption of an action in progress can be another action in progress

The interruption of an action in progress can be another action in progress.

      While I was trying to fall asleep in my apartment, the upstairs neighbor was making noise.
     She was checking the test results while I was working in the lab.

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    I have my doubts about the quality of your source. Nothing is being "interrupted" in either of those examples. They're just cases where when / while is used to join two continuous clauses - describing two actions taking place simultaneously. Though in fact, the second one might simply mean she was assigned to one task whereas I was assigned another task (but we might never be doing our tasks at the same time). Aug 4, 2023 at 16:00
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    She had a two-week holiday abroad in June, while I just had a couple of long weekends camping in July. Where while is simply being used to contrast two activities (that aren't happening at the same time). It would be very unusual to use when in that way, but I wouldn't like to rule it out. Aug 4, 2023 at 16:33

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Grammar books, explaining the Past Continuous, will often provide an example of an action that was in progress being interrupted (halted) by a short action. For example,

She was having dinner when the doorbell rang.

Someone rang the doorbell while she was having dinner. She could have either ignored it and continued eating or she could have stopped eating and found out who was at the door.

They were playing football when it started raining.

Probably the rain stopped them playing the football game.

They saw a bear while they were walking in the woods.

As they were walking, they came across a bear. What did they do next? Were they frozen in their tracks or did they ran away?

Sometimes there can be instances where two actions in progress occur at the same time.

He was doing his homework and listening to music.
She was driving and texting when the police stopped her.

And sometimes an action in progress can be interrupted by another action in progress. I would consider this situation to be quite rare, and as a result I'm finding it difficult to come up with a valid example.

While they were walking home at night, they sensed someone was following them..

Their walking home may or may not be interrupted by this sensation of being followed but it would have added an element of anxiety and tension.

The book's first example is, perhaps, clearer than mine

While I was trying to fall asleep in my apartment, the upstairs neighbor was making noise.

I would have said “making a noise” but noise is also a mass / uncountable noun. In this situation, the speaker is attempting to sleep but is unable because of the noise the neighbor (US spelling) is making

I am much less convinced by the book's second example

She was checking the test results while I was working in the lab.

We have two different people who were doing two different things at the same time, there's no reason why either of them has to interrupt (stop) their work.

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  • I totally agree. The second example is very questionable. I don't see any interruptions in it. We don’t know exactly when she began checking the test results – possibly before I started working (for a moment). Aug 4, 2023 at 17:37
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Do you understand what "an action in progress" means? If something is continuing over a period then something else can also continue over a period at the same time.

The word "interruption" is not very well used in this passage. It may be technically correct to a grammarian but normally implies that the continuing action was stopped or paused. That may be what is confusing you. Also the phrase "was making noise" at the end of the first example sounds very clumsy to me (I would assume a non-native speaker), but this is american so maybe ok there.

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    I don't think the examples are "American", nor do I think "interruption" is "technically correct to a grammarian". I suspect the examples are a bit "off" because they're made up by a non-native Anglophone. Aug 4, 2023 at 16:06
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    @FumbleFingers "apartment" (not flat), "emphasize", and "neighbor" (not emphasise and neighbour UK spellings) are typically written by Americans though. The author could be a non-native speaker, but how can you tell? Is it just a feeling? The examples aren't brilliant "While I was swimming in the pool, I felt sick" is a bit odd as an example, but it's not such an impossible scenario.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 4, 2023 at 16:21
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    Writing "Father" instead of Dad or dad is formal and old fashioned but not wrong.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 4, 2023 at 16:24
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    @Mari-LouA: Yeah, just a feeling. Primarily based on the meaningless inclusion of interrupted in the section "title", but also the phrase "was making noise" at the end of the first example sounds very clumsy to me as well as timchessish. Aug 4, 2023 at 16:25
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    @FumbleFingers good writing and what is grammatical, and that sentence is grammatical, don't always go hand in hand. By the way, timchessish forgot to capitalise American, (and OK for that matter) which is a mistake more typical of nonnative speakers than Anglophones. No offence, timchessish, typos happen to everyone! I'm sure there are a dozen faults in my own answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 4, 2023 at 16:33

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