# What is the difference between the past continuous tense and the simple p..?

8 replies
I can differe between the present continuous tense and the simple present tense.

The diference is :

- Th simple present tense is used for a repeated or habitual action that happen always or often or usually.

- Th present cotinuous tense is used for an action that is still contiuing now.

but I can't differe between the past continuous tense and the simple past tens.

When we use the past cotinuous tense, we use it as these sentences:

1- The teacher was giving us a lesson.

2- A year, ago I was working in London.

And we use the simple past tense as these sentences:

1- The thief picked his pocket.

2- I passed the river yesterday.

.................

We can also use the simple past tense with the past cotinuous tense as these sentences:

1- The teacher was giving us a lesson when a little dog walked into the room.

2 - While we were having supper,all the lights went out.

3- All the lights went out while we were having supper.

4 - Hrry did his homework while the other boys were playing football.

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Ok , what is the problem If I say :

1- The teacher gave us a lesson when a little dog walked into the room.

2- While we had supper,all the lights went out.

3- All the lights went out while we had supper.

4 - Hrry did his homework while the other boys played football.

..................

When to use the simple past tense and when to use the present cotinuous tense?
New Member24
Personally, I think your definition of Continuous as something going on at a certain moment is embarrassing.

To see how it works you can take a string of elastic and mark a point on it. Then stretch the string so that the point became a line. Continuous is a point of action stretched to become a process, e.g. When I came in (a point), the phone was ringing (a process).

Hence, what you need in order to define whether Continuous should be used, is (1) to see if the point is set in the context; and (2) to see whether you need to stretch this point.

1. The teacher was giving us a lesson. (When? Is the point given?) (wrong)

2. A year ago I was working in London. (Is a year a point, or viewed as a point?)(wrong)

3. All the lights went out while we were having supper. (Is 'the lights went off' a point or a process? Is we were having supper a process?)(correct)

4. Harry did his homework while the other boys were playing football. (Is the first sentence a point or a process?) (wrong: you have two processes, two points stretched)

is a process

is a point

1- The teacher gave us a lesson when a little dog walked into the room. - (was giving)

2- While we had supper,all the lights went out.- (were having)

3- All the lights went out while we had supper. - (were having)

4 - Harry did his homework while the other boys played football. - (was doing, were playing)

The way I see it,

Slava
Full Member243
Voltaire101I can differe make the difference between the present continuous tense and the simple present tense.

The difference is :

- The simple present tense is used for a repeated or habitual action that happens always or often or usually. In these cases you'll have an adverb or a complement that tells you you have to use it. Or you use it to express truths that cannot be changed (water boils at 100°)

- The present continuous tense is used for an action that is still continuing now. Rather "an action that is happening right now. No continuing for the present continuous tense.

but I can't differe make the difference between the past continuous tense and the simple past tense.

When we use the past continuous tense, we use it as these sentences:

1- The teacher was giving us a lesson.

2- A year, ago I was working in London.

And we use the simple past tense as these sentences:

1- The thief picked his pocket.

2- I passed the river yesterday.

There is no context to all of these sentences, and context gives you the hint for the tense you have to use.

.................

We can also use the simple past tense with the past continuous tense as these sentences:

1- The teacher was giving us a lesson when a little dog walked into the room.

2 - While we were having supper,all the lights went out.

3- All the lights went out while we were having supper.

4 - Harry did his homework while the other boys were playing football.

ـــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــ

Ok , what is the problem If I say :

1- The teacher gave us a lesson when a little dog walked into the room. Looks as if the teacher gave you a lesson during the very short time it took the little dog to walk into the room; 10 seconds?

2- While we had supper,all the lights went out.

3- All the lights went out while we had supper.

4 - Hrry did his homework while the other boys played football.

..................

When to use the simple past tense and when to use the present cotinuous tense?
Veteran Member7,461
2- While we had supper,all the lights went out.

3- All the lights went out while we had supper.

4 - Harry did his homework while the other boys played football. OK

"All the lights went out while we were having supper". When you have a marker that tells you you have to use the past tense, you have the choice between the simple and the continuous past tense.

You use the continuous form for the action that was going on at that time, and the simple form for the action that interrupted it - the shorter action.

2- While we had supper,all the lights went out.

3- All the lights went out while we had supper.

4 - Hrry did his homework while the other boys played football.

Schetin :

To see how it works you can take a string of elastic and mark a point on it. Then stretch the string so that the point became a line. Continuous is a point of action stretched to become a process, e.g. When I came in (a point), the phone was ringing (a process).

Hence, what you need in order to define whether Continuous should be used, is (1) to see if the point is set in the context; and (2) to see whether you need to stretch this point.

4 - Harry did his homework while the other boys played football. - (was doing, were playing)

The way I see it,

thank you very much.but I copied the senteces (4) from book (Brighter / Grammar 2) by M.Macauly D.K.S Swan. in page 52. Email Removed">http://www.pearsonedindia.com/bookimages/ Email Removed

I see the same way that you see, but may be the tow formes is right

Harry did his homework while the other boys played football. (right sentece according the book)

Harry was doing his homework while the other boys were playing. (I am not sure if it is right or not)

[G] or [g]

......................................................

pieanne:

In these cases you'll have an adverb or a complement that tells you you have to use it. Or you use it to express truths that cannot be changed (water boils at 100°)

You use the continuous form for the action that was going on at that time, and the simple form for the action that interrupted it - the shorter action.

thank you very much ... your last information is very usefull.
Voltaire101

...may be the two forms are correct:

Harry did his homework while the other boys played football. (right sentece according the book)

Harry was doing his homework while the other boys were playing. (I am not sure if it is right or not)

Of course they are. As I said, you choose whether there's a point and whether you need to stretch it. I did, you didn't. Void of a definite context both are possible. In other examples, the context is more or less definite.

Regards,

Slava

Schetin wrote

Of course they are. As I said, you choose whether there's a point and whether you need to stretch it. I did, you didn't. Void of a definite context both are possible. In other examples, the context is more or less definite.

Regards,

oh! I am sorry .. now I can understand it well.

Harry did his homework while the other boys were playing football. (right sentece according the book)

Harry was doing his homework while the other boys were playing. (I am not sure if it is right or not)
Anonymous:
It is very easy when actions happened in a sequence like first, second, third,... you need to use simple past: i arrived home, made a phone call and went out again. but when things happened at the same time you need a continous form: i was watching TV when he called.

also depends on what you want to convey, if there is emphasis on duration a past continous is prefered. yeasterday i was watching films for 6 hours! but if you just mean to mention what you did simple past will do. I watched TV yeaterday.
Anonymous:
Voltaire101I can differe between the present continuous tense and the simple present tense.
The diference is :
- Th simple present tense is used for a repeated or habitual action that happen always or often or usually.
- Th present cotinuous tense is used for an action that is still contiuing now.

but I can't differe between the past continuous tense and the simple past tens.
When we use the past cotinuous tense, we use it as these sentences:
1- The teacher was giving us a lesson.
2- A year, ago I was working in London.
And we use the simple past tense as these sentences:
1- The thief picked his pocket.
2- I passed the river yesterday.
.................
We can also use the simple past tense with the past cotinuous tense as these sentences:
1- The teacher was giving us a lesson when a little dog walked into the room.
2 - While we were having supper,all the lights went out.
3- All the lights went out while we were having supper.
4 - Hrry did his homework while the other boys were playing football.
ـــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــــ
Ok , what is the problem If I say :
1- The teacher gave us a lesson when a little dog walked into the room.
2- While we had supper,all the lights went out.
3- All the lights went out while we had supper.
4 - Hrry did his homework while the other boys played football.
..................
When to use the simple past tense and when to use the present cotinuous tense?
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