past simple vs past continuous

< Previous | Next >

MaximuS.111

Senior Member
russian
Hi, friends!
I'm wondering if I can use past continuous to imply continuous action/event rather then brief one?
For example, I was telling my friend about a movie on our way to work. My narrative took about 15 minutes.
What would be the difference if any if I tell my friend a few days after:
"Here is the web link to the movie I was telling you about the other day"
and
"Here is the web link to the movie I told you about the other day" ?
Without pondering much I sticked with the first option implying that a conversation occured instead of a brief overview.
Thanks in advance for any commnents!
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Personally, I think you could have chosen either option. In a converstaion they both say exactly the same thing, and both sound perfectly natural.

    I don't think the time spent on the action mentioned has much to do with the choice of tense. You could use either tense whether it took 5 minutes to tell your friend about the movie, or 5 hours.

    As an aside, we'd say 'Without pondering much I stuck with the first option . . . ,
     

    MarFish

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I don't think the time spent on the action mentioned has much to do with the choice of tense. You could use either tense whether it took 5 minutes to tell your friend about the movie, or 5 hours.
    I disagree slightly. As long as there was a conversation about the movie (5 minutes or 5 hours), then the past continuous would work. If you just said "Oh by the way... I saw the movie ABC earlier, would you like the web link?" You can't use the past continuous here (only past simple) since there was no conversation between the two about the movie, although the movie was brought up.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, the continuous tense does not generally imply that the event was long: it implies that it was interrupted.

    Maybe in this case a better word than "interrupted" would be "incomplete": the conversation was incomplete, because I have a bit more information - the web link.
     

    MaximuS.111

    Senior Member
    russian
    Thanks everybody!
    It seems that UK and american English speakers have different views on the matter :). Let's take the example given by MarFish: "Oh by the way... I saw the movie ABC earlier, would you like the web link?" Can I use past simple here bearing in mind the comment by se16teddy about incomplete conversation? Or it would fit better if I said "I saw the movie ABC earlier, would you like the web link? I can send it to you later today" - in this case it is incomplete as I couldn't provide the link instantly.
    I'm drawing a conclusion that duration doesn't mean much in selecting what tense to use.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top