Which of these sentences is true and what's the difference between I kept waiting and I was kept waiting?

  • I kept waiting for an hour last night &
  • I was kept waiting for an hour last night.

thanks ..


Both sentences are valid; however, they differ in meaning.

"I kept waiting for an hour last night" could be rephrased as, "I waited last night (for someone or something) and continued waiting for an hour." A person might similarly say, "I kept waiting for you last night, but you never showed up." In this first sentence, the speaker is taking an active role in waiting; it's their decision to wait.

The second sentence is written in the passive voice and means that an unnamed person made the speaker wait for an hour. It could be rephrased as, "Someone kept me waiting for an hour last night." In this second sentence, the speaker is being made to wait by another person; this suggests that their waiting is less voluntary and they have little or no choice but to wait.

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  • Thanks, that was helpful. Do you think that the second sentence show the meaning or is more complete than the first one? – user37421 Feb 16 '15 at 7:00
  • @user37421 That depends on what you're trying to convey. As I mentioned in my answer, there is a difference in meaning between the two sentences. If you made your own decision to wait (i.e. you didn't have to wait, you chose to wait), sentence one is better. If a person forced you to wait (i.e. you had little or no choice), the second sentence is more suitable. – pyobum Feb 16 '15 at 8:09
  • Thanks but I want to tell you that this sentence has no context at all and this is a question with multiple choices so what would you chose if you had to choose one? – user37421 Feb 16 '15 at 9:15
  • @user37421 (From a native speaker:) Both sentences are perfectly correct and say different things. If I had to choose one that is "more complete" I might choose "was kept waiting." If you are kept waiting by someone then that means you did keep waiting while the other person didn't show up. (This seems like a very poor question, though; I would never make such a distinction unless it was demanded of me.) Alternatively, you could say that the second sentence is "less complete" because it doesn't say who kept you waiting (e.g., I was kept waiting by my doctor). – apsillers Feb 16 '15 at 12:39
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    @user37421: if you have a particular multiple choice question you should probably state it, since the answer depends on it. If the question is "which of them is grammatically correct?" then the only correct answer is that they both are. If you've been asked an impossible question by someone who thinks that only one is grammatically correct, then you have a problem. If the question is "which of them is true?" then it depends what happened to you last night. – Steve Jessop Feb 16 '15 at 13:30

I kept waiting for an hour last night.

I was kept waiting for an hour last night.

Both the sentences are grammatically correct, with a difference in meaning.

The first sentence indicates that you continued waiting of your own free will for an hour last night. On the other hand, the second sentence indicates that someone made you have to wait for an hour last night. You should use the first sentence when you want to say that you waited without being asked or forced by someone. However, if someone asked or forced you to do so, you should use the second sentence.

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