What Tense to Use Following "While"?
Hi Diana, please I need a quick answer, as this came in the test and I lost a mark and I think I am not wrong:
The question was correcting the verbs:
"My mom was sitting beside me, she was watching the t.v while john was eating his dinner
That's what I wrote, but unfortunately 'was eating'
was corrected by "ate"
I am not sure because after "while" I think we have to put the past continuous not the past tense.
Thanks for helping me.
This is a 'gray' area. I think that in most cases we would tend to use the simple past BUT I believe you can use the progressive tense as well.
I was working on the computer while Paco made dinner.
I was working on the computer while Paco was washing the dishes.
I was studying for my driver’s exam while my baby slept.
I was studying for my driver’s exam while my baby was sleeping.
My mother was talking on the phone while I made dinner.
My mother was talking on the phone while I was making dinner.
(I must admit that as I write those examples the first case with the simple past sounds better!)
According to my grammar reference guide (Practical English Usage):
"A progressive tense is usually used for the longer 'background action'".
"We usually use 'while' to say that two longer actions or situations go/went on at the same time. We can use progressive or simple tenses.
While you were reading the paper, I was working.
John cooked supper while I watched TV.
I think that your answer can be considered correct as well, although it is more comment to write the sentence using the simple past following while.
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