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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Past Simple/Continous Question    

Past Simple/Continous Question


Past Simple/Continous Question
Hi there!

In the sentence:

"I met our neighbour while I _________ (walk) down the street",

1. are both tenses (past simple and past continuous) correct?

2. if both are correct, what is the difference between using one or the other? 

I īm hoping for some native speakers ī help but, of course, I īd like to hear from everybody who wants to help me. 

Thank you all wonderful people around the world. 

Have a nice weekend!

1 Nov 2014      


"I met our neighbour while I was walking down the street",

1 Nov 2014     


Hi miss-o,

I know that the past continuous is the correct choice. But I wonder if there is another possibility, a specific situation where the past simple would also be acceptable or the correct option. 

Thank you for your answer.

Have a nice day. 

1 Nov 2014     


Hi there, dragonfly2!

How to use while

When is used to talk about two things that are happening at the same time. The length of time is not important. Remember that while is used with a subject and a verb (while + subject + verb). For example:

"The phone rang while I was watching TV."

"I met him while we were studying in the library."

Take a look at these links:
I hope it can help you!
Have a nice weekend!

1 Nov 2014     


I īd think both are correct, but have different meanings. 1/ I walked down the street = complete action.= All the way down, I could see our neighbour.( maybe not possible with īmetī...) 2/I was walking down the street = action in progress. ( = Any time.) People usually teach while + was/were -ing - but I don īt think it īs correct... Maybe some native speakers could help ?

1 Nov 2014     



I īm sorry, I didn īt see your point. 


That is exactly what I thought but I was hoping for a native speaker īs "validation". I īm almost sure that is correct. The past simple would imply that the action of the verb "to meet" would have happened the whole time the subject of the sentence "walked" down the street. 

Thank you both for your answers.

Still waiting for a native speaker.. 

1 Nov 2014     


I īm not a native speaker but I can tell you this; The sentence you wrote has to be with the past continuous due to the context of the sentence. 
But it is possible to use the past simple with while. 
For example;
He stared at me while I ate.

I know your looking for the explanation, I īm sorry I don īt have one, or rather I don īt know it. But the point is that in some cases it is possible to use the present simple with while.

1 Nov 2014     


I think Al3na īs example sentence can help us explain:
He stared at me while I ate. (To me it seems like he stared until eating action was finished)
whereas in this sentence,

He stared at me while I was eating. (This is like he just took a look for a second and the eating action continued afterwards.)

From this explanation, I can say that it is better to use Past Continuous because meeting is a short action verb:

"I met our neighbour while I was walking down the street",

1 Nov 2014     


Thank you AL3NA and ironik,

Both your answers helped me a lot, actually. I think ironik, and valodra before him/her, is right, that is what I thought the whole time but I needed confirmation. I īd still like to hear from someone who is a native speaker, I īm not sure if any of you are, but I īm very happy with your help right now, so thank you very much. 

Lots of love from Portugal. 

1 Nov 2014     

United States

OK, here īs how it works. With "while" you use simple past with past continuous when one action interrupts another, which is the case here.

Use simple past twice if two ongoing actions happen simultaneously.
    I talked to my friend while I walked down the street. Actually, when both actions are ongoing, you can use any combination of simple past and past continuous.
In your sentence, "met" is not ongoing, so you must use past continuous.

@ironik. That isn īt what "stared" means.


1 Nov 2014     



As a native speaker born in Canada, I would say you can use while + subject + past with stative verbs.

 eg.  I was walking down the street while I had images of a delicious dinner waiting for me at home.

Hope this helps!

1 Nov 2014     

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