He spoke on the phone "vs" He was speaking on the phone.

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Which one is the most proper one:

- He was speaking on the phone while he was driving his car.
- He spoke on the phone while he was driving his car.
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    I would accept either version of this sentence. Here's another one that sounds acceptable: He spoke while/as he drove his car.

    I suppose that I get a more active image of the driver talking and driving when you use the progressive forms.

    Using the simple past merely reports the activities without emphasizing their ongoing or concurrent nature.
    Last edited:


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    So, the two answers can be correct?
    I agree with Owlman; certainly both are correct.

    To explain the subtle difference further:

    "He spoke...while driving" says to me that at some point during the driving, if only very briefly, he spoke on the phone.

    "He was speaking...while driving" gives me a sense that the speaking was going on for some period of time, perhaps all the time he was driving.

    If I actually knew which had happened, I would choose one of these over the other.
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