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It's a good thing you did, when you taught me how to play guitar. I learned a lot.

It's a good thing you did teaching me how to play guitar. I learned a lot.

It's a good thing you did, teaching me how to play guitar. I learned a lot.

Do all the above sentences mean the same thing? Are all of them correct?

  • Are you saying it's a good thing because it is useful for you or because it was a good deed by your friend? Your woringd sounds more like deed. – Peter Feb 27 '16 at 22:18
  • I meant it was useful. – lekon chekon Feb 29 '16 at 18:44
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All of your sentences are understandable meaning the deed that someone did by teaching you how to play the guitar was generous.

It's a good thing you did, when you taught me how to play guitar. I learned a lot.

has the meaning that the gesture was good at the time that they taught you.

It's a good thing you did teaching me how to play guitar. I learned a lot.
It's a good thing that you did, teaching me how to play guitar. I learned a lot.

describe it in a more smooth way and also means the "goodness" of it continues to the present.

You did a good thing by teaching me how to play guitar. I learned a lot.

is closer to how a native would say it.

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All of the above mean the same thing and are more or less correct. The first option is a little awkward, possibly just because of usage: the other two options are more commonplace, so the first one looks odd. It would work better if phrased more directly:

You did a good thing when you taught me how to play guitar.

That sounds natural, but also reads as a bit strong. The other two are more indirect and casual, and I would say the final sentence, It's a good thing you did, teaching me how to play guitar, is the best, as the comma separates the two phrases.

Good to be aware: the sentence structure there comes off as pretty informal. It would sound natural if spoken aloud or written in a text message—something you'd say to thank a friend or peer. But it might be too casual for formal writing. In that case, I would go with the "You did a good thing when..." sentence. It is the clearest and most direct, which is typically the standard for formal English style.


A deeper investigation of usage:

Breaking down the sentence, you have three parts:

(It is a good thing) ([that] you did) (teaching me to play guitar)

As I mentioned before, those first two parts can be worded You did a good thing to be more direct—at the possible cost of putting more stress and attention on the person you're speaking to.

The final part of the sentence is a gerund phrase that has also been moved out of place. Its 'proper' location is actually being taken up by the pronoun it of it's a good thing you did, meaning that a simpler version of the sentence would read:

Teaching me to play guitar is a good thing you did.

That, however, sounds extremely stilted. Typically, the 'point' of a sentence goes at its end, and the sentence above looks less like someone thanking another for a guitar lesson and more like the analysis of a good-thing-identifying robot.

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