he <defended><was defending> his doctoral

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JJXR

Senior Member
Russian
Hello to all,

Thanks for reading my post.


Source:

A Must For Millions, Zoom Has A Dark Side — And An FBI Warning

Context:

Dennis Johnson fell victim last week to a new form of harassment known as "Zoombombing," in which intruders hijack video calls and post hate speech and offensive images such as pornography. It's a phenomenon so alarming that the FBI has issued a warning about using Zoom.

Sample sentence:

Like many people these days, Johnson is doing a lot of things over the Internet that he would normally do in person. Last week, he <defended><was defending> his doctoral dissertation in a Zoom videoconference.

Question:

The simple past "defended" is used in the original. Does the past continuous "was defending" also work in this case?


Thanks a lot for any comments, corrections or suggestions!

Regards,
JJXR
 
  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    While the presentation was going on it could be said that he "was defending", but after the fact it would have to be "defended".
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for the response, Packard.
    He said he was in the middle of presenting when someone started drawing male genitalia on the screen. At first, Johnson said, he was not sure what was happening.
    The quoted sentence is what follows the sentence in post #1, so I think the past continuous is correct. It might be even better than the simple past. What do you think? Thanks.
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    The sentence in the simple past sums up what he did.
    It may be followed by
    1) a verb in the past continuous to set the scene for
    2) some action or event that is reported in the past simple.

    - Last week he defended his doctoral dissertation.
    Just as he was answering a question about his methodology, an image appeared on the screen.
     
    Last edited:

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    If he was in the midst of the presentation while this happened (and I read he had been) then "was defending" works better in my opinion.

    If it was after his presentation then, "defended".
     

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    I should have made it clear in my post #4 that in the article there are two intervening paragraphs, with verbs mostly in the past simple, between

    Last week, he defended his doctoral dissertation in a Zoom videoconference.

    and

    He said he was in the middle of presenting when someone started drawing male genitalia on the screen.

    So the past continuous scene-setting part is "he was in the middle of presenting".
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    If he was in the midst of the presentation while this happened (and I read he had been) then "was defending" works better in my opinion.
    The part about the interruption is in the third paragraph after this one ("He said he was in the middle of presenting when ..."). I think it would be off-putting to be set up for an interruption that doesn't come.
     
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