I often come across the sentences that seem not quite correct gramatically, like this one:
The sun beat down on their heads as they walked along the jungle path.Everybody was nervous....(taken from a textbook )

Why is it past simple ?
Do you mean that this should be "the sun was beating down" ?

Both sound fine to me. The domains of the tenses overlap.

In my mind, this is a matter of style.
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Thank you for your reply. Yes, I ment "the sun was beating... we were walking" as grammar suggests for setting a scene for a main event.
Do you mean style can disagree with grammar rules?
In my opinion, selecting a tense to set a scene is a matter of style.

Also, I'm quite positive that grammar rules do not extend beyond the scope of a sentence. If I write a paragraph full of totally unrelated but grammatically correct sentences, you can say I have poor style but good grammar.

Sure, style can break grammar rules. For instance, writers often use phrases for effect. Slowing the reader down. This vilolates the "write in complete sentences rule", but many good writers do it.

To me, using past simple to set a scene increases the pace of a narration. Past progressive, slows things down.

"He was thinking of her as he left the restaurant."

"He thought of her as he left." (Same idea, but much faster.)

Put a string of 'was ' sentences together and you've got a slow moving paragraph. Fine, if that's what you want. Use a bunch of past simple and your paragraph jumps along.

Hope that helps.
From what you told me about grammar and style I assume the two phrases are absolutely identical, right?
He was walking down the road, the sun was shining and ........
Suddenly he remembered....
He walked down the road, the sun shone and....
Suddenly he remembered....
But grammar books say that if we have several actions in past simple that means they occur in the order they appear in the sentence.
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Simple past is common for story tellingEmotion: smile.
Yes, a series of past simple sentences can convey a series of ordered events. However, this is not a strict rule. Did the sun stop "beating down" just because he "suddenly remembered"? Of course not. Well, waybe in his mind because of his sudden recollection, but probably not in the concrete world.

I think that these grammar books are trying to extrapolate rules to where they don't belong.
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Please do not add posts that are unrelated to the topic of the thread. Your post has nothing to do with the past progressive tense.

Please post it as a new thread.

Thank you.