Sasha
Past Simple or Past Continuous or both Hello! I want to ask you about two English tenses (Past Continuous and Past Simple). I have a sentence from a test. A translator (1)______ the president what the Chinese visitors were (2)_____ . In this sentence I used: (1) was telling; (2) saying. A translator (1) was telling the president what the Chinese visitors were (2) saying. I've made this tense choice for (1) because in (2) we already have "were". This means that the second sentence is in Present Continuous. So it can be assumed that the two actions in the sentence were happening simultaneously. I imagine this situation as if someone is showing me the photo of the president and an interpreter and some Chinese visitors. And this person is telling me, "Look! This picture was taken at 6 o’clock yesterday. A translator (1) was telling the president what the Chinese visitors were (2) saying."The thing is that the key section of the book gives "told" for (1). Personally, I think both are fine. What do you think? If someone thinks that only "told" (not was telling) can be used please explain why. Thank you very much!
Oct 26, 2018 9:39 AM
Answers · 7
I believe "told" is the best choice. I don't find "was telling" natural. In my opinion, here are the combinations that seem natural. A) The interpreter TOLD the president what the Chinese visitors HAD SAID. (Translation of one statement - The visitors spoke, then the interpreter translated.) B) The interpreter (WOULD TELL) or (TOLD) the president what the Chinese visitors WERE SAYING. (The visitors spoke multiple times, the interpreter translated each time. The meeting was in progress. The visitors were going to say more.) Here TOLD has the meaning of a habitual or repeated action. Examples: - 1 - Yesterday, I studied all day. (one event) - 2 - When I was a university student, I would study all day. ("would" indicates a habitual or repeated action) 3 - When I was a university student, I studied all day. (context indicates a habitual or repeated action) C) The interpreter WAS TELLING the president what the Chinese visitors HAD SAID (when the president interrupted with a question). (The interpreter was not finished when the president interrupted.) D) The interpreter WAS TELLING the president what the Chinese visitors WERE SAYING (when the president interrupted with a question). (The interpreter was not finished when the president interrupted. In this version, the translation is simultaneous with the visitors speaking.)
October 26, 2018
Hi Sasha, They are not the same. "was telling" does infer that the action was happening the same time as the Chinese were speaking. But do you know that? Here's a different picture. You and I are having coffee and you say "Would you like to hear what the Chinese visitors said last night?". Later that day I will tell someone that "Sasha told me what the Chinese visitors were saying". You have your tenses correct. You just haven't covered all the possibilities. Good luck with your tests, Stephen
October 26, 2018
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Sasha
Language Skills
English, French, Russian, Ukrainian
Learning Language
English, French