Jessica phoned me vs Jessica worked at this company

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Brigitte_anna

Senior Member
Russian
Hi!

Context: general question about Simple Past tense.

As far as I know the phrase 'Jessica phoned me' means a single action in the past.

How about the phrase 'Jessica worked at this company' then? I'm not sure that this phrase may mean a single action in the past.

Would it be correct to say that the Simple Past may mean:
1. a single completed action in the past
2. an enduring or repetitive action in the past
 
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    How about the phrase 'Jessica worked at this company' then? I'm not sure that this phrase may mean a single action in the past.
    With no context, it means she worked there for one period in the past.
    Jessica worked at this company for three years. That's seen as three years of work - one action, not days of work repeated 900 times - 900 actions.
     

    Brigitte_anna

    Senior Member
    Russian
    With no context, it means she worked there for one period in the past.
    Jessica worked at this company for three years. That's seen as three years of work - one action, not days of work repeated 900 times - 900 actions.
    May the phrase 'Jessica phoned me' mean the same then?
     

    Brigitte_anna

    Senior Member
    Russian
    With no context, we would assume that it is one completed act of phoning just as the other sentence is one completed act of working.
    OK, thank you.

    What would be the usual, straightforward way to say :
    Jessica phoned me (multiple actions in the past. But I don't want to indicate if that happend often or rarely, regularly or not)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    What would be the usual, straightforward way to say :
    Jessica phoned me (multiple actions in the past. But I don't want to indicate if that happend often or rarely, regularly or not)
    If you want to give no information at all, perhaps you should just say nothing. ;)
    Jessica phoned me more than once.
    Jessica phoned me several times (or many times or a few times).
    Jessica phoned me on multiple occasions.
     

    Brigitte_anna

    Senior Member
    Russian
    If you want to give no information at all, perhaps you should just say nothing. ;)
    But that is exactly the case with the Present Simple, isn't it?
    'Jessica goes at the store' without indication of frequency or regularity may mean either
    1. a single action - She is going at the store now.
    or
    2. multiple actions - Jessiaca goes at the store for the groceries, not her husband.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    We know the meaning only by the context. The various uses of the simple past and present are listed in all grammar books, with suitable examples.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    But that is exactly the case with the Present Simple, isn't it?
    'Jessica goes at the store' without indication of frequency or regularity may mean either
    1. a single action - She is going at the store now.
    or
    2. multiple actions - Jessica goes at the store for the groceries, not her husband.
    Jessica goes to the store. Simple present is usually a habitual action (multiple actions) unless the context is a story told in the historical present. It does not mean "She is going to the store now."
     
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