# He (has) defended four people in court this week.

I am typing all of this.

I am sure I don't use past continuous often, but there are times when I might. (See below.)

Yesterday I was eating dinner when I heard a knock on the door.

Taking the last first.

*Yesterday I spent from 18:20 to 18:40 painting a wall in my room.*

OK. (But unlikely.)

*Yesterday I painted a wall in my room from 18:20 to 18:40.*

*Yesterday I was training my dog to give paw for forty minutes.*

Perhaps:

Abe: What were you doing yesterday while I was trying to get in touch with you?
Bob: I was training my dog to give paw.
Abe: How long did that last?
Abe; OK.

I assume that you are saying it to somebody.

*Yesterday I spent from 12:20 to 13:00 training my dog to give paw.*

OK.

*Yesterday I trained my dog to give paw from 12:20 to 13:00.

OK.

*Yesterday I painted a wall in my room for twenty minutes."

I don't know why you crossed that one out.

*Yesterday I trained my dog to give paw for forty minutes."

I don't know why you crossed that one out.

*Yesterday I spent from 12:20 to 13:00 training my dog to give paw.*

OK.

*Yesterday I trained my dog to give paw from 12:20 to 13:00.

OK.

*Yesterday I painted a wall in my room for twenty minutes."

I don't know why you crossed that one out.

*Yesterday I trained my dog to give paw for forty minutes."

I don't know why you crossed that one out.
Thanks for the help!

I crossed those two out because Piscean wrote #29 this:
The main problem with that dialogue is that, if the dog was not trained to give paw, then A would not have produced that first sentence. They are more likely to have said something like "I spent forty minutes yesterday trying to train/get my dog to give paw".
+
in #20 5jj wrote "No" when I had asked him if we could use the past simple with the verbs that usually imply completion/success in the meaning of an activity (with no indication of the outcome).

So my logic told me that if we (according to 5jj's words) cannot say "He taught me how to play the piano yesterday evening" in the meaning of an activity, then "Yesterday I painted a wall in my room /trained my dog to give paw /taught her to play the piano for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00" is also not natural. Am I wrong? If I am, why did 5jj and Piscean say that?

"Yesterday I (2) painted a wall in my room /(2) trained my dog to give paw /(4) taught her to play the piano for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00" is also not natural. Am I wrong? If I am, why did 5jj and Piscean say that?
You are trying to find absolute rules when there are none. Native speakers will have different opinions about some of these sentences artificially constructed to discuss grammar.

For me, personally:
(1) Yesterday I dd my homework for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00 is natural and possible, though I would probably use different words.
(2) is also possible and natural, given that (a) one can paint a wall in forty minutes and (b) one is unlikely to break off painting before a wall is completely painted.
(3) is unnatural. If the dog could give paw at the end of the training session, I'd probably say something like It took me forty minutes/from 12.20 to 13.00 to train my dog to give paw. If the dog could not give paw at the end of the training session, I'd probably say something like I spent forty minutes/from 12.20 to 13.00 trying to train my dog to give paw. Incidentally, most speakers of BrE would me more likely to to say from twelve-twenty/twenty past twelve to one o'clock.
(4) is completely unnatural. It would work if you substituted Chopsticks for the piano.

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4) is completely unnatural. It would work if you substituted Chapsticks for the piano.
@Piscean Did you mean to say Chopsticks instead of Chapsticks?

Thanks. Corrected.

(2) Yesterday I painted a wall in my room for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00.
(3) Yesterday I trained my dog to give paw for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00.
(4) Yesterday I taught her to play the piano for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00.
For me, personally:
(1) Yesterday I dd my homework for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00 is natural and possible, though I would probably use different words.
(2) is also possible and natural, given that (a) one can paint a wall in forty minutes and (b) one is unlikely to break off painting before a wall is completely painted.
(3) is unnatural. If the dog could give paw at the end of the training session, I'd probably say something like It took me forty minutes/from 12.20 to 13.00 to train my dog to give paw. If the dog could not give paw at the end of the training session, I'd probably say something like I spent forty minutes/from 12.20 to 13.00 trying to train my dog to give paw. Incidentally, most speakers of BrE would me more likely to to say from twelve-twenty/twenty past twelve to one o'clock.
(4) is completely unnatural. It would work if you substituted Chopsticks for the piano.
I'm trying very hard but I do not understand why (1)"did my homework" works with "for forty minutes" or "from 12:20 to 13:00" but (3)"trained my dog to give paw" or (4)"taught her to play the piano" does not . Maybe I'm wrong, but sentence 1 seems to me to have no indication of the outcome.

+ You said about sentence 2 that it is possible and natural, given that one can paint a wall in forty minutes. But I think in this case, the person could simple say "Yesterday I painted a wall in my room in forty minutes" not "for forty minutes". This is the idea I'm training to translate: just an activity with no indication of the outcome. Let's imagine it's a 12-meter wall, and it takes several hours to paint it entirely.

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You can say you spent forty minutes painting the wall.

While that doesn't specifically indicate the outcome, it does imply that you didn't finish. If I had finished the job I would simply say I painted the wall.

You can say you spent forty minutes painting the wall.

While that doesn't specifically indicate the outcome, it does imply that you didn't finish. If I had finished the job I would simply say I painted the wall.
Yeah, I get it, but then why did Piscean say that "Yesterday I did my homework for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00" is natural and possible #43. I just don't get it . Doesn't "I did my homework" mean I completed it?

By stepping in at post #49 I'm risking confusing this thread even more than it already is.

Doesn't "I did my homework" mean I completed it?

No, it does not mean that, as far as word meaning goes. As long as you continue to think this, you'll be confused.

I'll tell you again what I've told you before: you're confusing sentence meaning (what the words in a sentence literally mean) with speaker meaning (what a person means, or what is implied by the utterance).

I did my homework for forty minutes.

The only thing we know from this is that there was an action that lasted for a duration of forty minutes. We don't know from the words whether the homework was completed. Is that clear?

No, it does not mean that, as far as word meaning goes. As long as you continue to think this, you'll be confused.
Ok, fine.

The only thing we know from this is that there was an action that lasted for a duration of forty minutes. We don't know from the words whether the homework was completed. Is that clear?
Then why did Piscean say that "Yesterday I trained my dog to give paw for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00" and "Yesterday I taught her to play the piano for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00" are completely unnatural #43?

-- The only thing we know from these two sentences that the actions lasted for a duration of forty minutes. Correct?

Then why did Piscean say that "Yesterday I trained my dog to give paw for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00" and "Yesterday I taught her to play the piano for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00" are completely unnatural #43?

I can't find where he said that but he likely meant that they're unnatural, not that they don't make sense. Being natural and making sense are not the same thing. My view of this, based on what I know of you, is that you should forget about what's natural and what isn't for the time being and focus on being grammatical and making sense.

-- The only thing we know from these two sentences that the actions lasted for a duration of forty minutes. Correct?

I don't understand this. Why have you changed my words? What does the lilac highlighting mean? What's funny?

I don't understand this. Why have you changed my words? What does the lilac highlighting mean? What's funny?
Sorry, I didn't want to be rude. I just applied the logic you used in #49 for this sentence "I did my homework for forty minutes", for the next two sentences that Piscean called "unnatural" and "completely unnatural" here #43.

I can't find where he said that

So what's your question? Are you asking now what it means to say that something is unnatural? Don't confuse being natural with being grammatical and making sense.

All of those sentences that you're asking about are grammatical and they make sense. I suggest you forget about whether they're natural or not.

In my humble opinion this thread has become confusing, and for that reason alone if I was still a moderator I would consider closing it.

By stepping in at post #49 I'm risking confusing this thread even more than it already is.
Don't worry. You couldn't do that.

@Marika 33:

You continue to quote individual sentences from some of us without also quoting the full context in which we wrote them. You sometimes change some of our words, changing the meaning. You sometimes ask members what other members mean by their words.

This makes it very difficult to answer satisfactorily your sometimes very demanding questions.

I just applied the logic you used in #49 for this sentence "I did my homework for forty minutes", for the next two sentences that Piscean called "unnatural" and "completely unnatural" here #43.
You ignored the words that I started my response with: For me personally. I was trying to make it clear that I was giving my opinion about these sentences, not giving indisputably true facts,

No native speaker would ever say "I did my homework for forty minutes". That is what we mean by unnatural.

Try: I was doing my homework for forty minutes

or: I worked on my homework for forty minutes.

No native speaker would ever say "I did my homework for forty minutes". That is what we mean by unnatural.

Really? I can't imagine why you'd think that. It seems perfectly natural to me. Do you two really mean that you just can't imagine anyone ever saying such a thing? I wonder why not.

I don't know. It's been a long time since I had homework. (See below.)

Mom: Did you do your homework?
Me: Yes.
Mom: You're supposed to phrase that in the past continuous.
Me: Huh?

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You ignored the words that I started my response with: For me personally. I was trying to make it clear that I was giving my opinion about these sentences, not giving indisputably true facts,
I reckon that words and sentences in the English language have meaning. If you are only talking about it as your opinion, then others have a different opinion? It seems very bizarre, as if everyone is free to perceive English as they wish. Just try looking at it from my side.

No native speaker would ever say "I did my homework for forty minutes". That is what we mean by unnatural.

Try: I was doing my homework for forty minutes
or: I worked on my homework for forty minutes.
Really? I can't imagine why you'd think that. It seems perfectly natural to me. Do you two really mean that you just can't imagine anyone ever saying such a thing? I wonder why not.
This is what I've been talking about! If any of these sentences with durations or periods;
1. Yesterday I painted a wall in my room for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00;
2. Yesterday I trained my dog to give paw for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00;
3. Yesterday I taught her to play the piano for forty minutes/from 12:20 to 13:00,
or any of these sentences as a response to "What did you do yesterday evening?";
4. I painted a wall in my room;
5. I trained my dog to give paw;
6. I taught her to play the piano,

some of you consider unnatural or even ones "no native speaker would ever say" (because for some of you they imply a completed/successful action), then maybe I should try putting them in the past continuous so that I make them mean what I want them to meam (just an activity with no indication of the outcome, as in the case of "I've defended four people in court this week" - which, as you all say, has no indication of the outcome)? I hope now I've made it clear. Please reply with helpful comments only, having first understood my question.