Questions tagged [past-continuous]

Questions related to the past continuous or past progressive, which expresses an action that was ongoing in the past.

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21 views

Time clause "by the time" with different tenses

I've came across this this site in which the use of the time clause "by the time" is described. Can you explain why future/past continuous is used in the main clauses here: The sun will be ...
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4answers
2k views

I'm very tired because I travelled for several hours this morning

According to another thread, sentences 1, 3, and 4 are correct. But sentence 2 doesn't sound idiomatic. Would you please explain the reason? In the afternoon, I said, I'm very tired because I was ...
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34 views

was writing vs had been writing

If someone died before he finished writing a book, and he had spent two years on it, which tense should I use: He was writing the/a book for two years before he died. He had been writing the/a book ...
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1answer
44 views

I slept Vs. I was sleeping [duplicate]

She was so tired that she slept for several hours. She was so tired that she was sleeping for several hours. Do both are correct? My teacher says that the first is correct.
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1answer
38 views

We didn't know what to do, so we did nothing/ were doing nothing

I was advised to ask this question here, which was originally posted here: [https://english.stackexchange.com/q/580212/381160] I came across this sentence in one of my workbooks: We were in a ...
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27 views

Which tense is it the most natural to use when you describe something that happens in a recording?

Which tense is it the most natural to use when you describe something that happens in audio: the present simple, past simple, or past continuous. For example: We are going to listen to a recording, ...
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1answer
17 views

Which tense should be used for telling short event in the past while another ongoing event is happening?

I want to tell something that I did in the past, while doing something else, and it (the second activity) is still ongoing. Suppose I want to text my friend and at this time I'm still eating. 'Check ...
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1answer
34 views

Why is 'Pete wasn't studying very hard when he was at university.' incorrect?

Pete wasn't studying very hard when he was at university [1]. The instruction of the question on the exercise I was doing is determining which one sentence is incorrect. The key answer says the ...
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Using past continuous for future event, is it for formality?

There's a sentence taken from Hewing's book (the writer of Advanced Grammar in Use): Write v if the italicized parts are correct. If they are wrong, correct them. We are meeting at seven in the Globe ...
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1answer
25 views

sat or was sitting?

What's the difference between "sat" and "was sitting" in the following? Are they interchangeable? Mary sat on the bench, looking at George. Mary was sitting on the bench, looking ...
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1answer
43 views

"while" with Past Simple and Past Continuous (with 2 examples)

Could you explain, please, why "went" is only correct here (that says my grammar book)? Can't I use Past Continuious here, can I? Why in the first example is used "... while I went to ...
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1answer
44 views

Usage of past progressive "were being used" vs past perfect "had been used"?

In my English book, there's a text that talks about how rainforest plants being used as remedies. More specifically, it talks about how they become more and more common in modern medicine, while the ...
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42 views

Past Simple vs. Past Continuous

I'd appreciate your opinion on this grammar task item to elicit the correct use of the past simple/continuous. Last Halloween little Joe went missing. We ... (run) around the block looking for him ...
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1answer
41 views

We **were thinking/thought** a lot about where the best place for celebration is - Past Simple or Past Continuous?

Which tense is better here? We were thinking/thought a lot about where the best place for celebration is. In the beginning, we decided to rent a cafe, but it's really expensive nowadays. Later, we ...
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1answer
45 views

Continuous aspects with “for the third time” and “for three times”

Context: I walked a dog three times today. “I was walking a dog for the third times today.” “I was walking a dog for three times today.” Are both valid expressions?
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1answer
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First , we met at a rehearsal in the city. Our team (had) needed a singer, and she (had) agreed to help. - Past Simple or Perfect [duplicate]

Do we need to use Past Simple or Past Perfect in this case if 'needing' and 'agreeing' happened first? First, we met at a rehearsal in the city. Our team (had) needed a singer, and she (had) agreed ...
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"When I worked" and "when I was working" after "used to be" [duplicate]

I have a question about using "when I did ..." and "when I was doing ..." in a certain sentence. When you are talking about a currently busy store that you worked at several years ...
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2answers
44 views

Why is the progressive form used in “since we weren't playing...”

Why did the author choose a continuous form? Kim would always encourage me to wear baseball hats when we played because she said it made me look a heavy metal drummer, and since we weren't playing ...
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3answers
49 views

“I was eating two half hamburgers yesterday”

Yesterday, I was eating half of a hamburger at 3 o’clock, and I was eating half of another hamburger at 6 o’clock. Why does “I was eating two half hamburgers yesterday” seem weird unlike “I ate two ...
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1answer
57 views

Is the tense correct in “I was talking about you for 2 years.”?

Once I've watched a video when reporter said to sportsman who hadn't been participating for 2 years, "I was talking about you for 2 years". Does the reporter use the tense correctly? As far ...
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26 views

Past continuous passive or Past simple passive [duplicate]

I was recently doing passive voice exercises when I came upon this sentence in "English Grammar in Use Supplementary Exercises", and here is the aforementioned sentence and the content of ...
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1answer
49 views

Which past tense should I use in this sentence

What did you do at this time yesterday? What were you doing at this time yesterday? The simple past tense or the past continuous tense?
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Can I use Simple Past in a subordinate clause with "while" when the main clause is in the Past Progressive?

I was reading while she slept. Or should it necessarily be "I was reading while she was sleeping" or "I read while she slept"? Can I use the Simple Past in a subordinate clause ...
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2answers
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Is there a rule governing a switch from present perfect to simpler tenses?

— Where have you been? — I've been at a cafe. I was having lunch there. I wonder when one should switch from the present perfect to simpler tenses. Is it a correct example (i.e. shouldn't it be "...
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What is more natural for describing last night's actions, past simple or progressive?

— What did you do last night? — I watched YouTube. And what about you? — I met up with a friend and we watched a movie. — And what did you do before the meeting? — I roller-skated. My textbook says ...
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2answers
44 views

Usage of "Had been" and "Used to"

Are this two tenses convenient to use for the same purpose, for the event in the past that began, lasted and finished? For example: I used to live in London I had been living in London Where is the ...
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1answer
148 views

I am reading or I was reading a book?

Suppose I am reading a book and a friend calls me and asks what I am doing. Can I answer:"I am reading a book" even though I have stopped reading for the moment to answer the phone, or ...
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42 views

worked vs was working [duplicate]

Are these examples interchangeable or it's better to use the second one if we say "he was living in Seattle", because there is emphasis of temporary action? Tom worked in a hotel when he ...
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239 views

didn't pay attention vs wasn't paying attention

As I understand, following sentences have the same meaning, haven't they? There is only a small difference that the first one says about the fact (I didn’t pay attention), but the second one says ...
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1answer
110 views

How can "start" be used in past continuous?

Another multiple-choice question: What were you doing when Lucy phoned you? I had just finished my work and _____ to read a book. The answer is "was starting." I think the answer is wrong ...
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1answer
49 views

That's the guy I talked to./That's the guy I was talking to

Person 1: His said his name was Heathcliff- Person 2: That's him. That's the guy I talked/was talking to. I know "I talked to" is fine, but would "I was talking to" also be natural ...
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1answer
26 views

Why is the perfect used instead of past continuous in "Every time I've visited her...she has been working hard"?

Every time I've visited her in the last month, she has been working hard. This is a sentence from a grammar textbook. I don't understand why we use Present Perfect Continuous instead of Past ...
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1answer
92 views

Used to and past continuous

The first few weeks or months I ___ that I was eating chocolate or cakes, and them I woke up in the morning and my body was crying for sugar. a) was dreaming b) used to dreaming c) used to dream d) ...
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past simple and past continuous in this context

which one is correct? "when I got the job offer I was still working in my old company, which I'd worked for 7 years" "when I got the job offer I still worked in my old company, which I'...
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4answers
217 views

Difference between Past Simple and Past Continuous in a sentence

I was running a test and made a mistake in the sentence "They lived in Germany when they were young." I used Past Continuous instead of Past Simple, that is "They were living in Germany ...
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Questions regarding the differences between simple and progressive past

I have a few sentences in which I don't know which tense to use. In the first sentence, I want to describe how a zoom meeting ended, but everybody stayed. So should I say: I saw that everybody was ...
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1answer
53 views

Is there any difference in meaning between the past simple and the past continuous when used before "till" or "until"?

Could you tell me if there is any difference in meaning between the past simple and the past continuous when used before till? For example: I worked till midnight and then went to bed. I was working ...
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1answer
65 views

Are the past continuous and and the past perfect continuous interchangeable in certain contexts?

Could you tell me if the past continuous and and the past perfect continuous are interchangeable in certain context? For example: Before I moved to the countryside I was living in the city for ...
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1answer
26 views

Did I use correct tenses in this sentence?

Regarding my competence in speaking about this topic, I could say that: I learned German at school, or I was learning German at School. I studied German, or I was studying German.
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1answer
285 views

“She waited for me for two hours” “She had been waiting for me for two hours”

She waited for me for two hours She had been waiting for me for two hours Which statement is more correct? And how do we know which statement we should use?
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2answers
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Can "before" be equal to "when" in certain contexts?

There are the following sentences: "I had been waiting for three months before they finally sent me an answer" "He had been waiting for the bus for 10 minutes before it arrived" ...
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2answers
44 views

Can the past perfect continuous be substituted with the past continuous?

If I want to emphasize both the process and duration of some action or event which was before another one, I should opt out for the past perfect continuous tense: "I had been studying for 3 hours ...
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1answer
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Is it correct here to say that "...more was to come"

The following is a paragraph of the NY Times news: It was not clear whether the action was the totality of the Iranian response to the killing of the scientist …, or whether more was to come. Is the ...
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1answer
42 views

Is the past perfect continuous really necessary?

I've come across the following sentences in one grammar book. I wonder if it's really necessary to use the past perfect continuous in them? The original sentences: It had been raining for several ...
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1answer
56 views

Is past perfect continuous mandatory when you mention the duration of an action in reported speech?

He said "I have been working in the garden for 8 hours" - direct speech. He said that he had been working in the garden for 8 hours. - indirect speech Is "He said that he was working in ...
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1answer
55 views

Can I use the conjunction "before" with the main clause in the past perfect continuous or the past continuous? And which is best?

My textbooks suggest that the only correct option is the one in the past perfect continuous because the past perfect continuous means an action ("planning") which lasted up to the later ...
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3answers
394 views

Is it gramatically correct to ask "what were you doing this summer?"

I was asked few times on my English classes "what were you doing this summer?". And now I'm wondering if it's correct to ask that question like that? As far as I know Past Continuous is used ...
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1answer
202 views

"If they came" versus "If they were coming" versus "If they would come"

I was wondering if there is a big difference in the meaning of these three questions? You asked me if they came or not? You asked me if they were coming or not? You asked me if they would come or ...
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1answer
46 views

How to say it correctly? "I was sailing [..]" or "I sailed [..]"

How to say the following correctly? Last Voyage I was sailing on board of container ship or Last voyage I sailed on board of the container ship and please explain why is your option right. For ...
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1answer
48 views

The Past Continuous vs. the Past Perfect Continuous in context

Could you tell me if there is any difference in meaning between the following sentences? When I got into the movie industry, I was waiting tables for seven years. When I got into the movie industry, ...

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