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    #1

    learned/was learning Russian for two years

    I learned/was learning Russian for two years when I lived in Moscow.

    Do both past simple and past progressive work for the sentence?

    Thank you in advance.

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    #2

    Re: learned/was learning Russian for two years

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    I learned/was learning Russian for two years when I lived in Moscow.

    Do both past simple and past progressive work for the sentence?

    Thank you in advance.

    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) I woke up this morning and ran to my computer, hoping that a

    teacher had answered.

    (2) Alas! Nothing. So I am giving your thread a "bump," as you

    young people say.

    (3) I think that the problem is the verb. I'm 99% sure that you cannot

    say "I learned Russian for two years." You have to use "studied."

    (4) Sir Shakespeare posted a thread on March 30, 2010, that received

    many great answers. I have tried for an hour to find it in the search

    box, but I was not smart enough to find it. Sir Shakespeare's thread

    was entitled "What's the difference between this and that??" (Remember:

    it was last year.) If you can find this thread, you will find it

    EXTREMELY helpful.


    Respectfully yours,


    James

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    #3

    Thumbs up Re: learned/was learning Russian for two years

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) I woke up this morning and ran to my computer, hoping that a

    teacher had answered.

    (2) Alas! Nothing. So I am giving your thread a "bump," as you

    young people say.

    (3) I think that the problem is the verb. I'm 99% sure that you cannot

    say "I learned Russian for two years." You have to use "studied."

    (4) Sir Shakespeare posted a thread on March 30, 2010, that received

    many great answers. I have tried for an hour to find it in the search

    box, but I was not smart enough to find it. Sir Shakespeare's thread

    was entitled "What's the difference between this and that??" (Remember:

    it was last year.) If you can find this thread, you will find it

    EXTREMELY helpful.


    Respectfully yours,


    James


    Dear James,

    I have found the thread you were referring to. Here it is:

    What's the difference between this and that ??

    I am amazed at how precisely you remembered that thread after more than one year! You make young people pale by comparison.

    On a side-note, I would respectfully like to tell you that 99,999% of the students, and 99,99999999% of non-native speakers would happily settle for YOUR OWN answer, since you are a sophisticated native English speaker. What is good enough for you, what reads well for you, must be good enough for every non-native speaker as well as for practically all native speakers. That's just my humble opinion.

    Have a nice day!

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    #4

    Re: learned/was learning Russian for two years

    Thank you a lot, TheParser. Then how about 'I studied/was studying Russian for two years when I lived in Harbin'? Do both tenses work?

    Thank you again.

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    #5

    Re: learned/was learning Russian for two years

    Quote Originally Posted by ~Mav~ View Post
    Dear James,

    I have found the thread you were referring to. Here it is:

    What's the difference between this and that ??

    I am amazed at how precisely you remembered that thread after more than one year! You make young people pale by comparison.

    On a side-note, I would respectfully like to tell you that 99,999% of the students, and 99,99999999% of non-native speakers would happily settle for YOUR OWN answer, since you are a sophisticated native English speaker. What is good enough for you, what reads well for you, must be good enough for every non-native speaker as well as for practically all native speakers. That's just my humble opinion.

    Have a nice day!

    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) Thank you for your great kindness in providing the link.

    (2) Of course, your generous words have "made my day."

    I do not deserve such praise, but -- nevertheless -- it was

    nice receiving it.

    (3) I cannot answer most of the questions that are posted, but

    I enjoy reading and learning from the answers given by the great

    teachers and enthusiastic non-teachers who answer the thread

    starters.

    (4) Have a nice day. And I REALLY mean it!!!


    Respectfully yours,


    James

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    #6

    Re: learned/was learning Russian for two years

    Learnt/Learned is OK.
    To be honest Id probably say "I did Russian for a couple of years when I lived in Moscow"

    I studied sounds better than I was studying

    The past continuous is normally used in conjunction with a subsequent event telling a story or whatever . For example "I was walking down the street WHEN a guy walked up to me and tapped me on the shoulder"

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    #7

    Re: learned/was learning Russian for two years

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    Thank you a lot, TheParser. Then how about 'I studied/was studying Russian for two years when I lived in Harbin'? Do both tenses work?

    Thank you again.

    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) Thanks to Mav, the link is now available. The people who answered

    Sir Shakespeare really added to my understanding.

    (2) I am 99% certain that the first sentence is correct:

    I studied Russian for two years when I lived in Harbin.

    (a) Of course, this sentence is ambiguous. It could be

    interpreted as meaning that you lived in Harbin for two years and

    studied Russian during that time, or it could mean that you lived in

    Harbin for, say, 10 years, but you studied Russian for only two of

    those 10 years. Furthermore, I guess some people might ask:

    When you say "two years," do you mean two years straight, or

    do you mean a total of two years?

    (3) Regarding your second sentence, I do not have the confidence

    to give you a definitive answer. Personally, it sounds strange to

    me. I will let a teacher give you and me the correct answer.

    (a) I think that the progressive could be used in this way:

    Tom: I hear that you spent 2010 in Harbin.

    Martha: That's right.

    Tom: What were you doing there for a year? Working?

    Martha: No. I was studying Russian. Nothing else for the whole

    year.


    Respectfully yours,


    James


    P.S. If a teacher does not answer, please start a thread with a

    similar question. I, too, want to know the answer. Of course,

    I PROMISE not to reply to your new thread.

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    #8

    Re: learned/was learning Russian for two years

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) Thanks to Mav, the link is now available. The people who answered

    Sir Shakespeare really added to my understanding.

    (2) I am 99% certain that the first sentence is correct:

    I studied Russian for two years when I lived in Harbin.

    (a) Of course, this sentence is ambiguous. It could be

    interpreted as meaning that you lived in Harbin for two years and

    studied Russian during that time, or it could mean that you lived in

    Harbin for, say, 10 years, but you studied Russian for only two of

    those 10 years. Furthermore, I guess some people might ask:

    When you say "two years," do you mean two years straight, or

    do you mean a total of two years?

    (3) Regarding your second sentence, I do not have the confidence

    to give you a definitive answer. Personally, it sounds strange to

    me. I will let a teacher give you and me the correct answer.

    (a) I think that the progressive could be used in this way:

    Tom: I hear that you spent 2010 in Harbin.

    Martha: That's right.

    Tom: What were you doing there for a year? Working?

    Martha: No. I was studying Russian. Nothing else for the whole

    year.


    Respectfully yours,


    James


    P.S. If a teacher does not answer, please start a thread with a

    similar question. I, too, want to know the answer. Of course,

    I PROMISE not to reply to your new thread.
    A teacher has just answered. By the way you are correct the following would be fine but mainly because you use the continuous tense in the question :

    Martha: That's right.

    Tom: What were you doing there for a year? Working?

    Martha: No. I was studying Russian. Nothing else for the whole

    year.

    If you had asked "what did you do in Moscow" the answer would be "I studied Russian" however answering "I was studying Russian" would still be OK.
    Unfortunately unlike the textbooks would love you to believe in many cases there are no hard and fast rules to English grammar - there are a lot of grey areas.

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