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    #1

    Longer duration

    "She said that she had been having a substantial meal, when they called her and said that they wanted her back at the hospital."

    OR

    "She said that she was having a substantial meal, when they called her and said that they wanted her back at the hospital."

    I've been told there would be a subtle difference between the meaning of these two sentences. What would it be? Would there be a subtle difference for you as a speaker? Doesn't Past Perfect suggest a longer duration?
    Last edited by ostap77; 24-Sep-2010 at 22:49.

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    #2

    Re: Longer duration

    (Note spelling of substantial.)

    They mean the same to me, ostap. (Leave a space after a comma.)

    If there is a subtle difference, I don't care about it. Life's too short.

    Rover

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    #3

    Re: Longer duration

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    (Note spelling of substantial.)

    They mean the same to me, ostap. (Leave a space after a comma.)

    If there is a subtle difference, I don't care about it. Life's too short.

    Rover
    I'm not trying to be a perfectionist. When I learn a foreign language I try to get the hang of as many subtle differences as I can. That's what you do as a foreigner.If you folks spoke my native language Ukrainian, I would not care much about these subtles either. Hope I have not been a burdon to you

  1. Shenfeng's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Longer duration

    *Not a teacher*

    Hi Ostap,

    the Past Perfect verb tense doesn't imply a longer duration, but its progressive form does.

    The difference between your two sentences is as follows (native speakers, correct me, if I'm wrong):

    In "She said that she was having a substantial meal, when they called her and said that they wanted her back at the hospital." she was having her meal when she was called. So the call came while she was still eating.

    In "She said that she had been having a substantial meal, when they called her and said that they wanted her back at the hospital.", however, she had already had her meal, meaning she wasn't eating when the call reached her.

    So, here the use of the progressive forms doesn't pertain to the difference in meaning.

    I would also like to add that the sentence "She said that she was having a substantial meal, when they called her and said that they wanted her back at the hospital." makes more sense to me, since she probably might have been disturbed by that call.

    Do the native speakers concur?

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