+0
Hi everybody,

There is this sentence:

'She sang softly, as she beat the eggs.'

Why are these verbs in Simple Past? I could imagine the following versions (with explanations):

She was singing softly as she was beating the eggs. -> Two parallel actions (and we can't say for sure that one of them is shorter than the other).

She sang softly as she was beating the eggs. -> She suddenly started singing while she was beating the eggs.

Please, correct me if it is necessary. Please, explain me the meanings of all the possible combinations. (ONLY the possible combinations of Simple Past and Past Continuous matter now.).

Thanks for your answer in advance.
+1
Continuous forms are very often used to emphasise the limited duration of a situation. With past situations, the limitedness of the situation is usually evident. If there is no desire to emphasise the duration, then a continuous form is not needed.
Comments  
Thank you, fivejedjon Emotion: smile

I try to apply your idea to this sentence. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

1. She sang softly, as she beat the eggs.

It is good because we know that the duration of these action is limited/ended and there isn't anything which would indicate a new meaning in the case of using continuous form.

2. She was singing softly, as she was beating the eggs.

This is good but not so good because it doesn't add any plus information in this particular case.

3. She sang softly as she was beating the eggs.

Is it possible? Does it mean 'She started singing at some point during beating.' in this raw form (~ it is not indicated with something such as 'started')?

4. She was singing softly as she beat the eggs.

It seems the worst of these four possibilities. It hardly can be good.

Furthermore, I guess, mixed usage (= 1 past continuous - 1 past simple or 1 past simple - 1 past continuous) always cause a change in the meaning (similarly to the 3. possibility) if there are at least 3 possible combinations.

With past situations, the limitedness of the situation is usually evident.
Could you give me an example when it is not evident?

Thanks for your answer in advance.