as we moved around the unit

User714

Member
Russian/Polish
Hi!

“Bleary-eyed and stammering away, I proceeded to present the events of each patient as we moved around the unit.”

Try as I might, I just can’t justify using the past simple here. I’d say “as we were moving around the unit”. Would that be a mistake? I’m clearly lacking some knowledge… Could you please explain why we can/should use the past simple?

Thank you!
 
  • "as we moved/were moving around the unit" is an adverbial clause that modifies the main clause "I proceeded to present the events of each patient".

    The simple past presents the tour of the unit as a single and complete event.
    The continuous past presents the tour of the unit as the process from shortly after the start to shortly before the end.

    As an adverbial, it is not particularly important to the main clause, and the nuance of the verb forms is thus quite minor.

    Guidance on the use of the simple and continuous forms is useful, but not so much in adverbials.
     
    I actually see a difference. To me, "moving" is continuous and does not fit the scenario. In other words, "as we were moving" is wrong. The information wasn't presented as they were physically moving, it was presented every time they stopped moving, at a patient's bed.

    To me there is an implied meaning that only makes sense with the past tense.

    - proceeded to present the events of each patient as we moved from patient to patient around the unit.

    It was a series of repeated actions -- move, stop, present, discuss, move, stop, present, discuss, etc. They moved multiple times.
     
    As an adverbial, it is not particularly important to the main clause, and the nuance of the verb forms is thus quite minor.
    Then would it be correct to say:

    We listened to our favorite summer hits while we drove to the beach. // They bought cement several times as they built the garage.
     
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