1

Some grammar books say that the past progressive is possible to use for repeated or habitual actions.

For example:

  1. I was practising every day, three times a day.
  2. she was meeting him twice a week.

My question is, If I rewrite the above two sentences by using the past simple(like 3 and 4), what is the difference between them?

  1. I practised every day, three times a day.
  2. she met him twice a week.
1

If you wish to express the idea that you used to do something "back then", or "when I was a kid", or that something used to happen or used to be the case, you can use the past progressive:

People were going to bed much earlier in the days before the electric light.

Before I realized that I could predict the future, I was earning a regular salary. Now I play the stock market.

As a heroin addict, he was living in a bad dream. But now he's clean.

In preparation for the bar exam, she was studying late into the night.

If you want to express the simpler idea that something happened at a point in time in the past, you can use the simple past:

It was New Year's Eve, so she stayed up past her normal bedtime.

The farmer mowed his field of hay.

He talked at length about particle physics.

Those same sentences can be recast into the past progressive. In doing so, the action is presented as an ongoing action.

It was New Year's Eve, so she was staying up past her normal bedtime.

The farmer was mowing his field of hay.

He was talking at length about particle physics.

0

The difference is that when you use the past progressive it's implied that you changed that habit at some point in the past, whereas using the past simple implies that you had an habit for a period of time but you don't have it anymore.

Some examples:

I was studying 8 hours a day, but then I started having headaches and had to stop.

You had an habit but had to stop doing it. Something interrupted it.

I studied 8 hours a day, but still failed the exam.

You had an habit por a definite period of time, but you don't have it anymore.

0

The OP is right that the past continuous can be used as an alternative to the past simple to indicate a routine, repeated or habitual action, with a subtle difference in meaning.

I practiced every day, three times a day.

She met him twice a week.

As these sentences are indicative of routine/habitual actions in the past, they can be rephrased in the past continuous, with the subtle difference that the sentences in the past simple imply more literally what is stated, whereas the sentences in the past continuous are less literal statements.

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