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  1. #1
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    Default played or was playing

    1-When I went there music played in the background.
    2-When I went there music was playing in the background.

    Could one use 1 instead of 2?
    I know that normally there is a difference between the two tenses.
    When I went there he was writing the letter.
    doens't mean the same as:
    When I went there he wrote the letter.
    but I wonder if in some cases one can't replace the progressive tense by the simple tense.
    3-When I went there a big mirror stood in the cormer of the room.
    I am not even tsure that in this case one could use:
    4-When I went there a big mirror was standing in the corner of the room.

  2. #2
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default

    1-When I went there music played in the background.
    2-When I went there music was playing in the background.
    I would use the second one but not the first one. (Music doesn't play itself.)

    "When I went there a big mirror stood in the cormer of the room" suggests that a mirror was doing something mirrors don't do (stand). "When I went there a big mirror was standing in the corner of the room" has the same problem as the previous sentence. However, "When I went there, standing in the corner of the room was a big mirror" puts the mirror in its proper place.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    The second makes more sense- the first could be used for a repeated action. The past continuous (progressive) is often used to describe the background to past events- it sets the scene or paints the picture rather than describes the events.

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