did vs were doing

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Anonymous

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Is there a difference between the two interrogatives:
(1)What did you do yesterday ?
and
(2)What were you doing yesterday ?

A related question:
In the following two sentences:
1.I went to the movie yesterday.
2. I was clearning my house yesterday.
Does the first one implies going to the movie was one of several activities
that I did yesterday and "cleaning the house" was all I did yesterday ?
 

RonBee

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bonvivant said:
Is there a difference between the two interrogatives:
(1)What did you do yesterday ?
and
(2)What were you doing yesterday ?

They would be used in different contexts.

  • A: What did you do yesterday?
    B: What were you doing yesterday when I saw you at that place where you shouldn't have been?

bonvivant said:
A related question:
In the following two sentences:
1.I went to the movie yesterday.
2. I was clearning my house yesterday.
Does the first one implies going to the movie was one of several activities
that I did yesterday and "cleaning the house" was all I did yesterday ?

The first sentence is a simple statement of fact. One would assume that a person did more during the day than go to a movie, but that sentence does not suggest that he did anything else. (Say: "Does the first one imply?")


The second sentence does not say that all the person did was clean house. Also, we do not normally use the past progressive that way.

  • Yesterday, I was cleaning the house when Mr. Wilson rang the doorbell.
    Yesterday, I was cleaning the house when a meteor fell through the roof.
    Yesterday, I was cleaning the house when the earthquake hit.

  • A: What did you do yesterday?
    B: I cleaned the house, then I went out to see a movie.

When you are simply reporting on a past occurence, use the simple past.

:)
 
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