We were going / went to the new Mexican restaurant.

Whyme

Member
Hungarian
Hi there

This dialogue is taken from Channel your English / Intermediate student's book and I'm not sure about the last sentence in it. You need to choose between the past simple and the continuous. My answers are in bold and I'm positive about those but in the last sentence I think either one would be possible, the continuous meaning 'we were just about to go to that resataurant' and the simple past meaning 'we eventually went/ended up in that restaurant'. Am I right? Or is there only one good answer? But then which one? Please help me out :)

"So, Kevin, did you see anything good at the cinema last night?

- I didn't go to the cinema.

But you were standing outside the Oscar cinema at around 10:00. I
saw you.

- Oh, I was waiting for Diana. We ...................... (go) to the new
Mexican restaurant next to the Oscar."
 
  • Forero

    Senior Member
    Welcome to the forum, Whyme.

    It looks to me that you understand the essential difference, but I wouldn't say "just about" to explain "were going", or "eventually" or "ended up" to explain "went".

    "Were going" can mean "were on our way", which does not fit since Kevin was seen standing, not going, or "planned to go", which would usually be followed by an explanation of whether they did or did not do as they planned or of why they did not go to either the movie or the restaurant.

    "Went" is rather disconnected from "was waiting". Here it does not mean they were waiting when they went or went during the time they were waiting. It, like "didn't go" in the earlier sentence, only says what happened and allows us to surmise that Kevin was not at the cinema because he was at the restaurant with Diana.
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    "But you were standing outside the Oscar cinema at around 10:00. I
    saw you.

    - Oh, I was waiting for Diana. We ...................... (go) to the new
    Mexican restaurant next to the Oscar."

    The action took place in the past. I, the person who was waiting, is describing an expected event in the past or an event that occurred.
    1. We were going to the new ... is a statement of their intention at 10:00 (unnamed & Diana). This use of the continuous form is correct. It is possible that they did not go. :(
    2. We went to the restaurant is simple past tense & is a statement of what they eventually did. :) The use of the past tense is correct.
    They are both correct! They have different meanings.

    GF..

    Am I going senile?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    So, Kevin, did you see anything good at the cinema last night?
    - I didn't go to the cinema.
    But you were standing outside the Oscar cinema at around 10:00. I
    saw you.
    - Oh, I was waiting for Diana. We ...................... (go) to the new
    Mexican restaurant next to the Oscar.
    I have no difficulty using "were going" in this sentence.
    At that precise moment I was standing still, waiting, but I don't believe that I have to be moving to say, truthfully, "I am going to the cinema."
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I meant to say that either answer can work, and I really cannot in good faith choose one as more correct. It is interesting, but we sometimes say "we were going", even when I am waiting and she is coming, because we have the same ultimate destination.
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    I agree with everyone who stated above that "were going" and "went" are both appropriate.

    For a grammar exercise, I would tend to go with "went" on the theory that if the authors were rigidly looking for one answer only, that would be it.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    With went, the last two sentences would be paralleling the previous two, by which they were prompted. It seems Kevin might have saved time by answering "I didn't go to the cinema. I went with Diana to the Mexican restaurant next door." (Not was going)

    With were going, Kevin would be explaining what the other person thought he/she saw, the original question having already been answered.

    I am curious what "the" answer is because I really cannot guess.
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    With went, the last two sentences would be paralleling the previous two, by which they were prompted. It seems Kevin might have saved time by answering "I didn't go to the cinema. I went with Diana to the Mexican restaurant next door." (Not was going)

    With were going, Kevin would be explaining what the other person thought he/she saw, the original question having already been answered.

    I am curious what "the" answer is because I really cannot guess.
    Agreed on the difference. My guess is that if the grammar text does not have the foresight to allow both answers, they will allow only "went."

    The reason I think this is that it isn't really a "textbook" case for "were going." The textbook case for that would be either as described above, if the speaker was actively on his way when the action took place or in a situation in which he was going to do it but something happened to prevent it.
     

    Mijo

    New Member
    I have no difficulty using "were going" in this sentence.
    At that precise moment I was standing still, waiting, but I don't believe that I have to be moving to say, truthfully, "I am going to the cinema."
    This is true/correct. At that breif moment, they may have been standing still, but the intent, the overall process, was that they were going to the new Mexi restaurant. In common speech, sometimes you can be "going" somewhere, or "on your way" to somewhere, but not actually "moving" the entire time.

    For example:
    "The other day when my girlfriend and I were going / were on our way / went to the restaurant, we had to wait at the street corner before we could cross the road because of heavy traffic."

    Another way to say it would be:
    "While my girlfreind and I were on the way to see our friends in Midtown, we had to wait at the street corner for the heavy traffic to pass."

    ****** Went is probably "the" answer; since it is a past tense of "go". *********
     
    Last edited:

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    Agreed Mijo and Pan. I'm just saying that based on my experience with narrowly focused grammar text questions, they are probably looking for "went" here. In actual English both are excellent answers.
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Agreed Mijo and Pan. I'm just saying that based on my experience with narrowly focused grammar text questions, they are probably looking for "went" here. In actual English both are excellent answers.
    This, of course, freeks me out.

    How does the student know it is narrowly focused? If only one of the answers is marked as correct and someone fails his/her exams because he/she answers with the "incorrect" one, what happend next? Does someone sue the examiners? Would he/she win? Would anyone know it had happened?

    Should you be saying it or COMPLAINING about it???

    GF..
     
    Last edited:

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    This, of course, freeks me out.

    How does the student know it is narrowly focused? If only one of the answers is marked as correct and someone fails his/her exams because he/she answers with the "incorrect" one, what happend next? Does someone sue the examiners? Would he/she win? Would anyone know it had happened?

    Should you be saying it or COMPLAINING about it???

    GF..
    When I was studying Italian recently, my favorite grammar exercises were in French books. They properly listed all of the possible answers. If they wanted only one answer they wrote the question in such a way that only one answer is possible. What a concept.

    But for all we know Whyme has a good grammar book which will accept both answers!
     

    Whyme

    Member
    Hungarian
    "This, of course, freeks me out.

    How does the student know it is narrowly focused? If only one of the answers is marked as correct and someone fails his/her exams because he/she answers with the "incorrect" one, what happend next? Does someone sue the examiners? Would he/she win? Would anyone know it had happened?

    Should you be saying it or COMPLAINING about it???"

    I thoroughly agree with this comment and I think all textbooks should always point out that there may be several possible answers if there are, or simply not include these types of gapfillings at all.
     

    AmbrosFriedrich

    New Member
    English
    A visit to the Hawaiian Islands provides you with great opportunity to enjoy Hawaii Mexican Food! Get more info about Mexican Restaurant at luibueno.com!
     
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