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    #1

    Smile Present continuous used in the past

    Hello, I was wondering whether if saying the following sentence would be correct or not: 'the last two days, I was coughing' (for example). Can the present continuous tense be used in sentences referring to the past? If so, is it necessary to use 'for' as in 'for the last two days', or can the 'for' be omitted? Thanks in advance :)

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Present continuous used in the past

    Quote Originally Posted by bleiva View Post
    Hello, I was wondering whether if saying the following sentence would be correct or not: 'the last two days, I was coughing' (for example). Can the present continuous tense be used in sentences referring to the past? If so, is it necessary to use 'for' as in 'for the last two days', or can the 'for' be omitted?
    'I was coughing' is past continuous.

    'For the last two days' is more natural. With or without 'for' the tense you need is the present perfect continuous, because the time period extends up to the present time:

    I have been coughing for the last two days.

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    #3

    Question Re: Past tense

    Eeek!! My bad!!! I'm sorry! I got confused, so thank you so much for the correction . So, in conclusion, it's much better to say 'I've been coughing for the past two days', right? But my doubt is, if I'm in the Present now, and I want to talk about an action (coughing) which happened in the past, but I'M not coughing now, can I use the 'I was coughing' structure? Because 'I have been coughing for two days' suggests I'm still coughing... Or at least that's what my teachers taught me and what I understood from your reply. The same goes for the next example : 'she was playing tennis yesterday' (but she's not playing now)' vs. 'she played tennis yesterday'. I hope these two examples help to illustrate my question better. Returning to the original example then, and considering that I'm not doing that action anymore, which sentence would be better? ' I was coughing for two days' Or 'I coughed for two days?' I think that the second one sounds better, but is the first one gramatically correct? Can I use it in this specific context?
    Last edited by bleiva; 29-Jan-2011 at 18:55.

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    #4

    Re: Past tense

    1. I coughed for two days.
    2. I was coughing for two days
    .

    Both are grammatically correct. As far as the meaning is concerned, it all depends on context of course but, basically:

    #1 simply reports the fact.
    In #2, by using the continuous form, which often emphasis the duration of a situation, the speaker suggests that two days is a long time.

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    #5

    Smile Re: Present continuous used in the past

    Oooh, Thank you so much!!! I really appreciate your answer, you've cleared my doubt. I understood the differences between both sentences perfectly. Thanks a lot for your help.

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    #6

    Re: Past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    1. I coughed for two days.
    2. I was coughing for two days
    .

    Both are grammatically correct. As far as the meaning is concerned, it all depends on context of course but, basically:

    #1 simply reports the fact.
    In #2, by using the continuous form, which often emphasis the duration of a situation, the speaker suggests that two days is a long time.

    or
    3. I have been coughing for two days.

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