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Hello,
I have a question concerning the present continuous and the present simple tense.
I have once seen a similar sentence in a set of grammar exercises:
I try to walk very silently in the room when my children are sleeping.
This sentence was regarded as correct. The explanation was that we give a description of a situation.
Shouldn't we rather say:
I try to walk very silently in the room when my children sleep.

Thank you for your help.
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AnonymousI try to walk very silently in the room when my children are sleeping.
This sentence was regarded as correct.
It is correct.
AnonymousShouldn't we rather say:
I try to walk very silently in the room when my children sleep.
No. I don't find this version idiomatic, but "when my children are asleep" is fine.

CJ
Comments  
Both forms can be used in this case since sleep is a continuous action. The present continuous makes sense because sleep is a "definite plan for the future". You can see more information here:
http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/elc/studyzone/330/grammar/simcon.htm
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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
Thanks for your answers.
I don't understand, though, why "my children are sleeping" is a definite plan for the future. I am not speaking about plans for the future, such as : 'I am meeting my boss next week' or 'My children are flying to Greece tomorrow', for instance.
I am just describing a normal, everyday situation.
I thought my original sentence was a typical example of the present simple tense; we describe actions which happen regularly, describe our life...
For example:
I usually pretend not to hear anything when my children scream.
When the sun shines a smile apprears on my face.

Are these setences acceptable or should I use the present continuous?
I usually pretend not to hear anything when my children are screaming.
When the sun is shining a smile apprears on my face.

If we should use the prsent continuous, what is the explanation for the use of this tense here?
Thank you for your help.
AnonymousI don't understand, though, why "my children are sleeping" is a definite plan for the future.
It isn't.
AnonymousIf we should use the prsent continuous, what is the explanation for the use of this tense here?
I have been asking myself this question since the moment you posted it, but after working on it for hours, I'm sorry to say that I have not yet discovered a really satisfactory explanation.

A partial explanation has to do with the fact that the non-continous form often excludes the possibility of overlapping time periods in a when construction.

I usually pretend not to hear anything when my children scream.
tends toward this meaning, diagrammed in time:

............[children scream]..........

I usually pretend not to hear anything when my children are screaming.
tends toward this:

................[children are screaming]................
................................

You could make similar diagrams for the example concerning the sun and smiles and for the example with walking quietly and sleeping.

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Just from the meaning alone, I judge the "pretend not to hear screaming" example to be better with the continuous tense. I imagine the screaming and the pretending as simultaneous.
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The example with the sun and smiling works both ways.
The sun shines (stimulus), and your reaction is to smile (response).
[when the sun shines]

OR --
The sun is shining and you are smiling -- all at the same time -- not as a stimulus-response pairing.
[when the sun is shining]

Nevertheless, the verb appear denotes something instantaneous, so the non-continuous form of shine is a bit more appropriate in my opinion. In other words, when I read that sentence, I imagine the stimulus-response pairing.

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With regard to the original sentence you posted, the tip-toeing around the room is obviously an action that overlaps the sleeping in time, so the continuous form "when my children are sleeping" is suggested to us native speakers quite strongly.
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The pattern is fairly common for showing time overlaps.

I keep the TV at low volume when my brother is doing his homework.
Paul stays out of the house when his daughter is practicing the violin.

But note this case where you use the simple form. Making a mistake is "instantaneous", not an activity that takes up a whole period of time.

I try not to correct him when he makes a mistake.
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You may be able to find counterexamples. That's why this explanation is only a partial one. It's just the best I can do for now. Emotion: smile

CJ
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