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  1. #1
    shabushabu is offline Junior Member
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    Default the tenses in 'when' clause and its main clause

    Hi, I'm always confused with the tenses in 'when' clause and its main clause.

    (1) When you called, I was eating dinner.

    (2) When I was eating dinner, you called.

    Are sentence(1) and sentence(2) the same? When should I use a progressive tense or a simple tense?

    Many thanks
    Last edited by shabushabu; 28-Sep-2013 at 17:24.

  2. #2
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    SlickVic9000 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: the tenses in 'when' clause and its main clause

    (Not a Teacher)

    They mean the same thing. Since you had not finished eating before you were called, "eat" should be in the past continuous tense. "Call" is a complete action here, so it is simple past tense.

  3. #3
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    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: the tenses in 'when' clause and its main clause

    I find #2 unnatural.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: the tenses in 'when' clause and its main clause

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    I find #2 unnatural.
    So do I. I would say:

    1. When you called, I was eating dinner.
    2. While I was eating dinner, you called.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  5. #5
    shabushabu is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: the tenses in 'when' clause and its main clause

    Thanks for all your replies. But what makes me confused is there's no such 'problem' in my own language. For me, #1 and #2 are the same.

    However, I read this from a book: "We can use as, when or while to introduce a longer background action or situation, which is/was going on when something else happens/happened. " And, it gave some examples:

    The telephone always rings when you are having a bath.
    While they were playing cards, somebody broke into the house.
    As I was walking down the street, I saw Joe driving a Porshe.

    So, #2 still doesn't work?

    Many thanks
    Last edited by shabushabu; 29-Sep-2013 at 13:29.

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