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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > worked or were working or both possible???    

worked or were working or both possible???


worked or were working or both possible???
Hello everybody,
I �ve got a question. Is is possible to use the Past Progressive in following sentence? If not, why not?
Parts of the old theatre were found under newer buildings when archaeologists worked (were working) in London in 1989.
A long situation (= were working....) is interrupted by a short acton (were found).
Thanks for helping.

30 Sep 2016      


I agree with you that it �s "were working". But I �d rather say "while" instead of "when" to focus on the length of the action, and that may be why you �re unsure of the tense (I think "when" isn �t totally wrong, but less natural because it �s more often used to introduce the short action). Another option (so as to keep "when") would be to reverse the two parts of the sentence: archaeologists were working...when they found...
I hope my point is clear :)

30 Sep 2016     


Thanks for your explanation. This was a sentence in an English test in which they only had to fill in the verbs with the right tenses. My daughter wrote were working and the teacher didn �t accept this tense. 

30 Sep 2016     

United States

Yes, I agree with 67 �s explanation. I �m OK with "when", though, mainly because the event is in the somewhat distant past. I agree that "while" is better, though. "Worked" is not correct.

30 Sep 2016     


"When" is the best, most natural option. "While" puts too much emphasis on the workmen. Actually, the more I think about it, I just can �t imagine a native speaker using "while" in that situation

1 Oct 2016