It rained VS was raining

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Amber_1010

Senior Member
Chinese-Cantonese
Hello. Please help.

A. It rained last night.
( one rain only, it happened and it stopped later, it took part in some time in the night)
B. It was raing last night.
( it kept raining last night.)

Are my concept correct? Thank you.
 
Last edited:
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    A. It rained last night.
    ( one rain only, it happened and it stopped later, it took part in some time in the night)
    B. It was raing last night.
    ( it kept raining last night.)
    "Rain" is an event that takes place over a period of time, however small. Without further expressed context, both your sentences are stating the same thing. See teddy's reply (#3)
     

    Amber_1010

    Senior Member
    Chinese-Cantonese
    Does it mean that the progressive emphasis the action, rain. But both of them actually mean that it rained all the time last night? Then which one should I use in coversation? For example, if someone asks me: was it cloudy last night? Then can I say "It was raining last night." Because I want to emphasis the fact.
    Thanks.
     

    fleuvewillamette

    New Member
    English - United States (Pacific NW)
    Both statements could stand alone and mean the same thing. And both could be either an independent or dependent clause if used with a conjunction.
    It rained last night, but today the sun is shining.
    It was raining last night, but today the sun is shining.
    It rained last night, but it stopped.
    It was raining last night, but it stopped.
    Without the context it's difficult to say which is correct, however I agree with Teddy that "It was raining last night" implies that something happened while it rained, or that the statement is a response to another statement (ex. "It's nice out today." "It was raining last night."); "It rained last night" sounds like that's all that happened and that the fact that it rained was the important event.
     

    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    But both of them actually mean that it rained all the time last night?
    No. Both mean that it rained for an indefinite period of time.

    Then which one should I use in coversation? For example, if someone asks me: was it cloudy last night? Then can I say "It was raining last night?" Because I want to emphasize the fact.
    If someone asked me "Was it cloudy last night?" I might reply "It must have been. It rained." You could also say "It was raining" with no difference in meaning.
     
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