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1. Tom: What did you do last night? John: ____.

(A) I was watching TV. (B) I watched TV.

2. Tom: What did you do last night? John: ____.

(A) I was reading a book. (B) I read a book.

What do you think are the correct answers to the above questions?

Thanks very much for your reply.
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Comments  
B, because the questions are in the simple past and therefore the answers must be.
Teo
1. Tom: What did you do last night? John: ____.

(A) I was watching TV. (B) I watched TV.

2. Tom: What did you do last night? John: ____.

(A) I was reading a book. (B) I read a book.

(B). I read a book. seems to imply that John finished reading the book.

But if John didn't finished the book, can he reply, "I was reading a book, (but didn't finish it.)"?
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Teo
Teo
1. Tom: What did you do last night? John: ____.

(A) I was watching TV. (B) I watched TV.

2. Tom: What did you do last night? John: ____.

(A) I was reading a book. (B) I read a book.

(B). I read a book. seems to imply that John finished reading the book.

But if John didn't finished the book, can he reply, "I was reading a book, (but didn't finish it.)"?

Past progressive shows a continuous action or condition that was occurring in the past.

What did you do last night? Oh, I read a book... (but I didn't finish it) or I read a book --- something completed but perhaps not finished.

What did you do last night? I was reading a book... (until my friends came to visit.)

Anybody else?
Teo
Teo
1. Tom: What did you do last night? John: ____.

(A) I was watching TV. (B) I watched TV.

2. Tom: What did you do last night? John: ____.

(A) I was reading a book. (B) I read a book.

(B). I read a book. seems to imply that John finished reading the book.

But if John didn't finished the book, can he reply, "I was reading a book, (but didn't finish it.)"?

Think of it in a list of activities in the past simple: I had dinner, read a book, watched tv and then went to bed.

For the pedantic, you could say, 'I read my book' or 'I read some of my book'. 'My' implies a particular book that you are reading, but it might have other subtle implications too.

The thing is, if you say, 'I read some of a book', it's ok-ish but it sounds like an unnecessary specification. On the other hand, if you say 'I read a book', it's possible you might get some smart-a*ss reply like, 'What, you read a whole book last night!' You can't win because the expression can have two meanings and only makes sense when the context is taken seriously.
I agree with Jussive's simple explanation. If you elaborate on the answer, then you might use a progressive simple past:

"What did you do last night?" - "I went out with some friends. See, I was reading a book when they phoned me and asked if I wanted to go with them to ..."

On the other hand, had the question been "What were you doing at 10 PM last night?", then the answer could have been "I was reading a book" (or "I was sleeping")
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Btw, 'I read a book, but I didn't finish it,' again is an unusual specification because we are only talking about one evening and it wouldn't normally be expected that you would finish an average sized book in such a small time span. It even suggests that you possibly intended to finish it, which sounds odd without a previous explanation as to why you needed to finish this particular book in that evening.
"I did some reading"?
Pieanne"I did some reading"?
All these phrases have slightly different meanings, though, don't they? I think this is ok too but it doesn't necessarily give the same casual sense.

You could say 'I read a book for a bit', I suppose, and if you DID say 'I was reading' in reply to, 'What did you do yesterday evening?', there wouldn't be shock and horror. Even though it's technically incorrect, I can imagine myself saying it to avoid the slight ambiguity of 'I read a book.'
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