Thread: continuous tenses in both clauses

1. continuous tenses in both clauses

Hello everyone,

My question today deals with the use of tenses.

Our teacher at school told us to avoid using constructions with two continuous tenses running, even if the actions described were of the same character and duration. She said it would make the sentence too lengthy or written in bad style or something. However, it seems to me that I've come across such constructions more than once when reading. So can we use continuous tenses in both clauses or does it sound unnatural?

Which is better:
I will be reading a book while you are cooking.
I will read a book while you are cooking.
I will be reading a book while you cook.

Jim will be seeing his friend off at the station while I'm getting ready with the report.
Jim will see his friend off at the station while I'm getting ready with the report.
Jim will be seeing his friend off at the station while I get ready with the report.

I was doing my lessons while Billy was playing computer games.
I did my lessons while Billy was playing computer games.
I was doing my lessons while Billy played computer games.

PS I'm happy I've found this site where everyone is so helpful. Thanks a million!

2. Re: continuous tenses in both clauses

Originally Posted by tyrp
I will be reading a book while you are cooking.
I will read a book while you are cooking.

I will be reading a book while you cook. Possible*

Jim will be seeing his friend off at the station while I'm getting ready with the report.

Jim will see his friend off at the station while I'm getting ready with the report.
Jim will be seeing his friend off at the station while I get ready with the report. Possible*

I was doing my lessons while Billy was playing computer games.

I did my lessons while Billy was playing computer games.
I was doing my lessons while Billy played computer games. Possible*

* Generally, the 'while' clause is used for an event that takes as long as, or longer than, the event in the main clause.
Generally, continous forms imply 'limited duration'.
Therefore, if we choose to use a continuous form in one clause, and a non-continuous form in the other, we normally use the continuous form in the 'while' clause.
5

3. Re: continuous tenses in both clauses

Thanks a lot! I appreciate your help very much.

But could you make it a bit clearer for me? Is it natural to use 2 continuous tenses? Or should I better use it only once in the 'while' clause?

4. Re: continuous tenses in both clauses

Originally Posted by tyrp
Is it natural to use 2 continuous tenses?
It's fine if you want to indicate that two actiivities were/are going on at the same time, and do not wish to suggest that one went on for a longer time than the other.
Or should I better use it only once in the 'while' clause?
This is necessary only if you wish to suggest that one activity was of longer duration than the other.
I've made it more obvious with these:

I locked the front door of the house while she unlocked the car. (Two short activities)
I wrote three emails while she was talking to her mother on the phone. (Her talking went on for longer than my writing)
I was working in the flower garden while my wife was preparing the herb garden . (Two long activities).

5. Re: continuous tenses in both clauses

Thank you, now the difference has become quite clear . Thanks again!

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