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    • Join Date: Nov 2013
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    #1

    past continuous vs. past simple

    Hello
    Please have a look at this sentence:

    1. When I was on holiday I ate as much ice cream as I wanted. My parent sent/were sending me the money for it. I was very happy then.

    Which is correct sent or were sending? I want to emphasize the long period of time of giving me the money - the duration; they were sending me the money many times from the beginning to the end of the holidays. If both are correct. What is the difference?

    Is past continuous used to emphasize the duration of a specific action - like in the example above?

    PS
    I know it is used for actions which were in progress when another action interrupted it: When I was eating dinner the accident happened. - but this is something different.

    • Member Info
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    • Join Date: Dec 2011
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    #2

    Re: past continuous vs. past simple

    Both are grammatically correct, but there is a difference in meaning.

    1. When I was on holiday I ate as much ice cream as I wanted. My parent sent me the money.
    Here I would think that you first ate the ice-cream and only after that your parent(s) sent you the money to pay for it.

    2. When I was on holiday I ate as much ice cream as I wanted. My parent were sending me the money.
    The use of the past continuous seems more logical here. It depicts the backround continuous event of sending the money. Also, it gives the context and reason.

    I would also rewrite it as follows.
    When I was on holiday, I ate as much ice-cream as I wanted. [While I was there,] My parent (or parents?) were [constantly] sending the money for me to be able to have as much fun as possible. I was very happy then.

    The bits enclosed in square brackets are unnecessary and optional, but they may be of help for you to understand why the past continuous is more suitable to describe your situation.

    Not a teacher.

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