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Ireen Ирина
Please, explain the difference in using tenses 1. They'll be waiting for your call during the weekend. 2.How long did Margaret clean the attic? Oh, she cleaned it for 4 hours! I don't understand - why in the second example we don't use Continious tense.
Jan 26, 2016 9:49 AM
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Answers · 3
Past continuous is often used to contrast a long action (eg. wait) to a short event (call). This is why 1. is correct. Past continuous is also used to describe a long action (eg. clean) at a specific point in time (eg. 4:00, yesterday). However is usually does NOT compare a long action to a duration (eg. for four hours, in 5 minutes). Therefore past simple works better in your sentence. Another way to look at it is that the question contains a past simple verb, therefore it sounds strange to switch to a different tense in the answer. If you said "She was cleaning for four hours" in spoken English, I doubt anyone would pay much attention to the "mistake", as it's very minor.
January 27, 2016
I don't understand either. The continuous tense makes a LOT more sense in this case. The use of she cleaned it for 4 hours might imply that the end result depended on the time spent cleaning. It seems more natural to assume that the object was to get the attic clean and that it took four hours to do it.
January 26, 2016
she cleaned it for 4 hours = she was cleaning it for 4 hours. There is no difference in the meaning. It is a question of style. Personally I prefer to say 'she cleaned it fro 4 hours'. Foreigners learning English normally prefer the ...ing form, from what I have seen.
January 26, 2016
Ireen Ирина
Language Skills
English, Russian
Learning Language
English