I'm learning about joining Past Continuous and Simple Past tenses. It's easy to understand when we use while and when. However, for other conjunctions, I don't know which sentences should be Simple Past or Past continuous. If I write a sentence with so as below, are the tenses OK?

Several years ago, I was having problems with math, so I found a tutor to help me.

2 Answers 2


That sentence is fine. You were having problems over an extended period, you found a tutor at a specific time.

  • @ Peter Flom. Thank you again for your help. It's so useful and helpful. I understand more about past simple and continuous.
    – nkm
    Sep 5, 2013 at 2:37
  • @nkm Please accept answer if it helped. Mar 20, 2017 at 8:50

When you combine simple past tense with past continuous, you are showing something that occurred in past and continued for a while in present .

Examples : 1) I was sleeping from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.

Combination of simple past with past continuous is used to show one thing happened in the middle of the other.

1) I was cooking and the door bell rang.

I was cooking food from 12:30 to 1:00 pm when the doorbell rang at 12:55 pm.

Words used to combine simple past with past continuous :When, while and as.

So, is not used for combining these sentences.

You can join the sentence like this :

Several years ago, as I was having problems with math,I found a tutor to help me.

Or I found a tutor to help me several years ago when I was having problem with math.

If you use when, while or as in the beginning of a sentence, then you need to put a comma after a phrase for e.g. : When I was talking bath, the telephone rang.

I think this has answered your query.


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