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    #1

    tenses

    a. Wait here while we talk about this.
    b. Wait here while we are talking about this.

    c. Go change your shirt while we talk about this.
    d. Go change your shirt while we are talking about this.

    Isn't a better than b?
    Isn't d better than c?

    I get the feeling that if the action of the main verb takes as much time as the action in the time clause (you wait for as long as we talk) , the simple tense should be used and if it takes less time the progressive tense should be used (your changing your shirt takes less time than our talking, the time of contains the totality of the time of your changing your shirt).

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #2

    Re: tenses

    b. and d. sound awkward to my ears.

  2. #3

    Re: tenses

    It would depend on the context, but only (a) and (c) sound right

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #4

    Re: tenses

    Welcome, brimstone11.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • French
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    #5

    Re: tenses

    Hi Casiopea and Brimstone,

    Why is the progressive wrong here?
    Are these wrong:
    I went and changed my shirt while/when they were talking.?
    A thief broke into the house while/when they were taking a nap.

    Is it because the sentence is an order:
    Break into their house while they take a nap.

    What if I use 'when' instead of 'while'?

    Break into their house when they take a nap.
    Break into their house when they are taking a nap.

    Could you explain the grammar here?

  4. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #6

    Re: tenses

    "while" expresses, at the same time that, during, so it should introduce a progressive event, like this,

    [1] I went and changed my shirt while they were talking.
    [2] A thief broke into the house while they were taking a nap.

    Replacing "while" with "when" here doesn't work for my North American dialect,

    Break into their house when they take a nap.
    Break into their house when they are taking a nap.

    a. Wait here while we talk about this.
    => The waiting and the talking haven't started yet. <the timing is the same>

    b. Wait here while we are talking about this.
    => The talking has started, the waiting has not. <the timing is different>

    c. Go change your shirt while we talk about this.
    => The changing and the talking haven't started yet. <same timing>

    d. Go change your shirt while we are talking about this.
    => The talking has started, the changing has not. <different timing>

    Hope that helps.

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