past progressive (continuous) - at 6 p.m?

English grammar and usage issues

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past progressive (continuous) - at 6 p.m?

Unread postby simha » 08 Mar 2013, 12:53

Hello, I have an issue with Past Progressive.
I was taught that one of the situations you must use the past continuous was if you made an action in the past at a specific time.
For example:
I was eating dinner at 6 p.m.
My question is: can't i say "I ate dinner at 6 p.m"?
Doesn't it depend on the context?
The specific time points out that something happened before 6 p.m (interruption). Basically, I started eating befor 6 p.m. However, if i say "i ate dinner at 6 p.m" means that I strated eating exactly at 6 p.m.
Is my analysis correct?
Thanks in advance?

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Re: past progressive (continuous) - at 6 p.m?

Unread postby Josef » 08 Mar 2013, 19:27

I personally would agree with your analysis.

We had dinner at 6 and then watched a film at 7.

In standard English this would suggest that eating started at 6 and watching started at 7. No information is given about the duration - except that we can deduce eating did not take longer than 60 minutes :twisted:

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Re: past progressive (continuous) - at 6 p.m?

Unread postby limorvat » 17 Mar 2013, 08:49

Hi guys,
Past progressive is used when you want to show two actions that happened at the same time in the past. For example:
I was cooking dinner while my mother was cleaning.
I was having dinner when my mother got home (the second is a short action).
You can't use Past Progressive just like that in a sentece.
If there is one action in a specific time it is Past simple- I ate dinner at 6 pm.
If there is not mention of a specific time then it's present perfect:
I have read this book (don't know when).

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