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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    Simple Past + a specific time

    Hello, everybody!
    I found this explanation on the Internet (http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/...tinuous.html):

    In the Simple Past, a specific time is used to show when an action began or finished.

    Examples:

    • Last night at 6 PM, I ate dinner.


    Now if I get it right, this sentence can mean either I started eating at 6 PM. or I finished eating at 6 PM.?
    How to know when is which?
    Last edited by Iryn_; 13-Nov-2015 at 11:55.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Simple Past + a specific time

    You can't from that sentence. Normally the time would indicate the beginning of the meal, but 6 PM may be approximate.

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Simple Past + a specific time

    I think 'start/finish dinner' indicates the beginning/end of the meal.
    I am not a teacher.

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Simple Past + a specific time

    It is clear, however, that the meal cannot start and end at 6 PM.

  5. Piscean's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Simple Past + a specific time

    Quote Originally Posted by Iryn_ View Post
    In the Simple Past, a specific time is used to show when an action began or finished.

    Examples:

    Last night at 6 PM, I ate dinner
    If your page says that (the link does not work for me) it is unhelpful. Without further context, we normally assume that the past simple used with a specific time refers either to a complete punctual action (He died, she coughed, they stood up, etc) or the beginning of a longer action (We went home, I had dinner, etc ).

  6. Piscean's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Simple Past + a specific time

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    I think 'start/finish dinner' indicates the beginning/end of the meal.
    Yes Matthew, but the original question was about a sentence in which those verbs were not used. That is what we are looking at.

  7. Junior Member
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    #7

    Re: Simple Past + a specific time

    So mostly the meaning (start/finish) rides on the context, right?
    I'm really grateful for the answers, it makes it easier :)

  8. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Simple Past + a specific time

    Quote Originally Posted by Iryn_ View Post
    it makes it easier :)
    See below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    End every sentence with the correct punctuation mark — not home-made emoticons. If you want to insert a smiley, click on the icon.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #9

    Re: Simple Past + a specific time

    Quote Originally Posted by Iryn_ View Post
    Now if I get it right, this sentence can mean either I started eating at 6 PM. or I finished eating at 6 PM.?
    How to know when is which?
    As Mike said, it is unlikely to refer to the end of the meal. However, if it really mattered, we would say I started dinner at 6 and finished at 6.20, or something like that. If accuracy is important then we will express ourselves accurately. If it isn't particularly important, then we often don't bother. The person is saying that they had dinner early in the evening rather than late.

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