Simple Past vs Past Continuous

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Hey guys, :)

I have a question about these tense. For example I say "He was eating dinner when she came in". What if I say "He ate dinner when she was coming in"? How should I know which one is simple past and which one is past continuous?



Hi Ali

Please mind the following poits:

1. We use Past Simple and Past Continuous to talk about past events that are done.

2. Past Simple is often used to mention past actions.

3. Past continuous is only used to emphasize the continuity of the action.

4. We often use Past Continuous and Past Simple together in a sentence. This way, Past Continuous describes a longer background action or situation and Past Simple talks about shorter completed action.

5. Often, the action described by Past Simple interrupts the situation described by Past Continuous

For example: He was eating dinner when she came in. 

This sentence sounds more logical and sensible than He ate dinner when she was coming in. Because the act of coming in interrupts the situation eating dinner.  

hi guys

Mehdi is completely right. In addition, it is worth mentioning here that the long and short action is something relative and the speaker decides on that. look at the followin to shed the lights:

while I was eating dinner the phone rang.

while the phone was ringing my father opened the door.

while my father was openning the door power failed.


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