Every week, I listen to a radio show called human pleasure , a DJ is playing records for nearly two hours, every four records played , he says "the tunes you were listening to "(that is what I understand) I don't understand why does he use the continuous form . Is it to say that the show is not finished yet? I would say "the tunes you listened to" because when he says that the songs of the 4 records are finished or "the tunes you have been listening to".


The continuous form indicates…continuity. Your listening to the tunes extended continuously for four records without a break. A break is the opposite of continuity.

It would make sense for the DJ to say either of these:

(1) The tunes you were listening to were performed by …

(2) The tunes you listened to were performed by …

But in English, we are often oriented by intervals of time. Intervals also play a role in perfect tenses. If there's an unbroken interval of time, we often refer to it if we can. (2) lacks the connection with the fact that you listened in an unbroken ("continuous") span of time. (2) would also be correct if you listened to the tunes over a long time, with many other things happening in between the tunes, like "when you were a child, the tunes you listened to were written by…" In that circumstance, (1) would not be correct. Since you did listen in a continuous span of time, it's a little more natural and clear to use the continuous tense.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.