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Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Past Continuous with Arrive|
|Question:||I teach a community adult ESOL class on a University campus, and last night we were briefly discussing the Past Continuous. I put these two statements on the board: I was washing the dishes as you arrived. I was washing the dishes as you were arriving. I believe that the first statement is correct. I also believe that the second statement is correct; my justification is that 'arriving' (or leaving) can be a long process. I had one student (also an EFL teacher) who vehemently disagreed. We're hoping that you can help us resolve this issue. Appreciatively, Adrienne|
|Reply:||I find the both sentences odd with "as" and much prefer "when," but even then the progressive (or continuous)is odd for me, unless "you" is plural and the arriving of several people occurs over an extended period. For each person, "arrive" happens at a point, but for the group, it occurs over a period. But even so, I don't much care for it; "arrive" typically indicates an event that happens at a point in time, not over an interval. I find, however, that if the event does not occur in the past time, then the use of the progressive with "arrive" is fine, as in: We should be arriving around 10 o'clock. Here, I think that the incomplete nature of the event allows the progressive, and not the character of the verb.|
|Reply From:||Marilyn N Silva click here to access email|