The train left <at 9:00 am>.

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Tenacious Learner

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi teachers,
One of the uses of the simple past says:
When it is used with a time period, which is finished, it means that in the course of that time period the action or state happened, or didn’t happen.

All these examples have bold time periods; right?
1. Dinosaurs lived millions of years ago.
2. She painted his room last year.
3. He arrived late at work yesterday.


But, to me, the definition above won't work for the following sentence:
4. The train left at 9:00 am.

My question:
Would this one work when we have an exact time like the sentence above?
It is used for an action or state, recent or not, at a definitive time in the past.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Well, the rule should say, simple past for either 1) action done within a past, time period, OR 2) action done at a specific point in the past.
    Thanks for your help, benny. That's what I was looking for "at a specific point ...". :)
    On the other hand, your definitions are even shorter.

    TL
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    All these examples have bold time periods; right?
    I don't see how "millions of years ago" can be a time period since it has neither a beginning nor an end. It is a point in time, albeit a rather vague one. Arguably "yesterday" in (3) is a point in time as well, in this particular use.

    However, I don't see what point you are trying to make. There is nothing wrong with sentence (4).
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I don't see how "millions of years ago" can be a time period since it has neither a beginning nor an end. It is a point in time, albeit a rather vague one. Arguably "yesterday" in (3) is a point in time as well, in this particular use.
    1. Dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. (It is somehow vague)
    2. She painted his room last year. (12 months: a period of time, not a specific point in the past)
    3. He arrived late at work yesterday. (24 hours: a period of time, not a specific point in the past)
    4. The train left at 9:00 am. (Not a period of time, but a specific point in the past)

    There is nothing wrong with sentence (4).
    I agree. There's nothing wrong.

    TL
     
    I don't see how "millions of years ago" can be a time period since it has neither a beginning nor an end. It is a point in time, albeit a rather vague one. Arguably "yesterday" in (3) is a point in time as well, in this particular use.

    However, I don't see what point you are trying to make. There is nothing wrong with sentence (4).
    I agree about 'yesterday'. It can be considered a point in time. Hence the rule I gave covers both point-within-period and simple point.

    Of course 'millions of years ago' is vague, but this works: "The xx dynasty ruled in France from the 16th through the 17th centuries.
     
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