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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: Well, this is where language gets difficult. I hope it's a VERY advanced class!

My personal instincts are the same as Professor Pyatt's. But when we come to choices between alternatives (as I have said in many of my publications), I think the best thing is to invite your students to do websearches, and listen to speech, and get them to notice what people do. There is a choice, which is probably linked to individual preferences and also to the precise context.

The students could also develop dialogues in which one or other would be preferable.

Anthea
Reply From: Anthea Fraser Gupta      click here to access email
 
Date: 26-Nov-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Past Continuous with Arrive    Marilyn N Silva     (21-Nov-2013)
  2. Re: Past Continuous with Arrive    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (22-Nov-2013)
  3. Re: Past Continuous with Arrive    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (21-Nov-2013)

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