Past Perfect Continuous vs. Past Continuous

deepuips

Senior Member
Please look at the following sentences

Are the following sentences correct at all? Is there any scenario or context where they are right? I know I could easily use simple past, but I want to know if the following usage is right or not? If yes, then in what is the difference between them and simple past usage of these sentences?

1. They were fighting Nazis for three days.

2. I was studying for six hours yesterday.

3. I was working there since I graduated from school.

4. Dad was working in his garden all morning.

5.During the mid-50s, real estate speculators were buying all the swampland in Central Florida, and innocent people were investing all their money in bogus development projects.

Please help me. Thanks
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    All these are correct, except for no.3.

    In fact, the simple past doesn't work for the situation in no.3 either, you need either: I have worked there since I graduated from school (...and I still work there); or I worked there after I graduated from school (...but not now).
     

    Shoorveeryoddha

    Member
    India-Hindi
    Keith Bradford sir,

    Can we rephrase the #3 in the following way

    I had been working there since I graduated from school.

    Also, would replacing the above past progressive tense with simple past tense make any difference in any way? Or can we use them interchangeably with any difference between the meaning and emphasis?

    Thank you.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I had been working there since I graduated from school is OK. So would be I had worked there since I graduated from school. But using the word "since" demands some form of the perfect, continuous or otherwise, so you can't use the simple past tense.
     

    Shoorveeryoddha

    Member
    India-Hindi
    Thank you Keith sir.

    What would the difference between the following be


    1. They were fighting Nazis for three days.

    2. They fought Nazis for three days.

    Can they be used interchangeably?

    Thank you.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    It's a matter of style. No.1 emphasises the duration of the time (= it was a long, hard struggle) while no.2 is more of a historical statement (= it lasted from Monday morning to Wednesday night).
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I don't think the two examples are comparable. I can easily imagine contexts using "They were fighting Nazis for three days".

    Perhaps in the thread you posted, the statement "this does not work as a complete sentence" should be amended to "this does not work as a complete statement". I can't imagine anyone saying: "Hello, John, they were fighting Nazis for three days. Goodbye". It is bound to form part of a longer (probably a much longer) narrative, where the real meaning of the continuous tense emerges. I've suggested what that might be in #6. Or how about this:

    "What on earth did your parents do all week?"
    "Well, they were fighting Nazis for three days." (I.e. they spent three days of it fighting Nazis.)

    Perfectly feasible, I submit.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Please look at the following sentences

    Are the following sentences correct at all? Is there any scenario or context where they are right? I know I could easily use simple past, but I want to know if the following usage is right or not? If yes, then in what is the difference between them and simple past usage of these sentences?

    1. They were fighting Nazis for three days.

    2. I was studying for six hours yesterday.

    3. I was working there since I graduated from school.

    4. Dad was working in his garden all morning.

    5.During the mid-50s, real estate speculators were buying all the swampland in Central Florida, and innocent people were investing all their money in bogus development projects.

    Please help me. Thanks
    I find all of these grammatical, but I don't mean to suggest you can use past progressive, past perfect, and simple past interchangeably.

    Past progressive is for situations in which the action(s)/state(s) in question extended beyond the time interval(s) in the past that the speaker has in mind.

    "Since" has several possible meanings, but if you mean it as defining a time interval after graduation, it by itself does not define the end of that time interval. Usually, the time interval suggested by "since" ends with the present, but "I was working there" can sometimes even mean "I was going to work there."

    Comparing tenses is much easier if you provide a particular example with context.
     
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