When you say that the boy was kicking a ball. You mean he kicked the ball again and again. When you say that the bus was stopping. You mean the bus started decreasing the speed to cease to move. Then when you say that he was telling a lie. What do you mean.

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    He was telling a lie means he was telling the same lie repeatedly, just like kicking a ball implies the same ball. If he was telling multiple lies, most likely it would be stated as, "He was lying." That leaves the number of lies indefinite, but possibly multiple different lies. – anongoodnurse Oct 2 '15 at 6:07

This form (imperfect tense) implies that the action is still in progress when described - so if you say "at 10:45 he was telling a lie" then it's one lie, in progress when described. Equally, the boy kicking the ball may have been kicking it when he broke his toe.... he didn't necessarily do it again!

If you said it as "all day last Tuesday he was telling a lie" then it would suggest a big lie (!) or one repeated all day, as @anongoodnurse suggested - plural lies would be used for the untruthful day if he came out with a load of them!

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    One thing to add: The reason that "he was kicking the ball" implies multiple kicks (but always one ball) is because it's a verbal shortcut. The action of "kicking" is finished pretty quickly, but as an activity, it usually involves kicking the ball many times. We even say "having a kick" (singular!) to describe this many-kicks activity. – Tim Pederick Oct 2 '15 at 8:06
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    lie is countable noun. For a single noun, you can use "tell a lie", and for a multiple lies, you can use " tell lies". – Khan Oct 2 '15 at 10:10

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