What did you do/were you doing last weekend?

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angelene001

Senior Member
Polish
When I start a conversation with somebody and I want to ask about last weekend, should I say:
A. What did you do last weekend?
or
B. What were you doing last weekend?

Or maybe the choice depend on what I have in mind asking the question.
I would like to know which question is more common, which one do you hear in everyday conversations.
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    B) focuses on the duration of the weekend, and it's often a background to some particular point in time ("when I called you", below). I would expect more detail (underlined) to follow:

    What were you doing last weekend when I called you and you said you couldn't talk?
    What were you doing last weekend? You never called me.

    So yes, it depends what the speaker has in mind. Both are common in everyday conversation, but probably the unmarked version (A) occurs more often. The speaker has no reason to concentrate on the duration, and is thinking of the weekend as a single complete "chunk" of time.

    What did you do last weekend?
    I went to Salonika, to see some friends.

    There are other threads with similar questions. Here are a couple:
    What were you doing / What did you do at the weekend
    What were you doing/ did you do?
     
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