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Hi everybody!!

I'm reading a book and there is a sentence which I don't understand (about verb time)

it will be easer if I write the sentence and then I will explain you my problem;

"I'm afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go, as we sat down together to our breakfast one morning". (said Holmes)

so, I don't understand why he says " we sat down" and not "we were sitting down"?

Can you explain me the reason?

I'm learning english and I have some problems about verb times , it's very different from french !!Emotion: smile

Bye bye
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Are you sure the sentence is correctly quoted?

Does it actually go like this?--

"I'm afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go," said Holmes, as we sat down together to our breakfast one morning.

If the phrase had been written, "as we sat together for our breakfast one morning", one could just as well write, "as we were sitting together." But 'as we sat down' is a momentary action, and does not translate well in this case into its present particple version, "as we were sitting down", unless it means, "as we were about to sit down."
Davkett Are you sure the sentence is correctly quoted?
Does it actually go like this?--
"I'm afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go," said Holmes, as we sat down together to our breakfast one morning.
yes, see e.g.
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"I am afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go," said Holmes, as we sat
down together to our breakfast one morning.

http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/lit/detective/MemoirsofSherlockHolmes/Chap1.html

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Thanks for that link, MH.
When quoting something that also includes a quoted section, we use both single and double quotations to indicate the difference.

AmE: "'I am afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go,' said Holmes, as we sat down together to our breakfast one morning."

BrE (I think): '"I am afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go", said Holmes, as we sat down together to our breakfast one morning'.
Davkett"I'm afraid, Watson, that I shall have to go," said Holmes, as we sat down together to our breakfast one morning.
'as we sat down' is a momentary action, and does not translate well in this case into its present participle version
Very interesting issue. Would you or others here have other examples of such momentary actions? I'm sure you're right, but let's try to find some general patterns here.
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Verbs of body posture or assuming such a posture.

To place oneself in a sitting, lying, kneeling, standing position:

to sit down, to lie down, to kneel down, to stand up. (usually)

To be in a sitting, lying, kneeling, standing position.

to be sitting, to be lying, to be kneeling, to be standing. (usually)

The verbs of placing oneself in a certain position usually take the adverbial particle (down, up) and are not used in the progressive form (-ing).

The verbs of being in a certain position do not usually take the adverbial particle and are used in the -ing form.

a We stood up when the king entered the room.
b We were standing when the king entered the room.

To complicate matters, the reverse patterns (including/excluding the particle) are possible, but not the most used.

c We stood when the king entered the room. (Same meaning as a.)
d We were standing up when the king entered the room. (Same meaning as b.)

b and d have the normal reading of We were (already) in the standing position when ... and an alternate reading of We were just in the act of (en train de) placing ourselves in the standing position when ...
(a and c do not have a similar set of alternate readings. They only mean that when we saw the king enter, as a consequence, we placed ourselves in the standing position.)

(The same observations apply to all the verbs of this general category.)

CJ
Others not related to body positions:

...said Holmes--
as a shot rang out (not 'as a shot was ringing out')
as the train came to a stop (not 'as the train was coming to a stop')
as the clock struck 'one' ( not 'as the clock was striking "one"')
as I sneezed (not 'as I was sneezing')
as we bolted out the door (not 'as we were bolting out the door')
as we exploded into thin air (not 'as we were exploding into thin air')
as the falcon swooped down, lifting him up (not 'as the falcon was swooping down, lifting him up')
DavkettOthers not related to body positions:

as the train came to a stop (not 'as the train was coming to a stop')

I had my doubts about this one, as I felt it as a somewhat protracted action (not instanteneous), but searching at Yahoo has confirmed your point,

'as the train was coming to a stop'

is 10 times less frequent, i.e. pretty much non-standard.

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