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"Past continuous" VS "Past simple"
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Member
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Posts: 128
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Good morning, all.

A) Could we use the "present progressive" in such contexts;

"In the nineteenth century, cities like London and Manchester were growing very quickly."?

B) Or I must use the "simple past", as the sentence talks about longer, more permanent situations. (Took a long time in the past)?

C) Does "very quickly" affect the meaning here?

Every word is appreciated.
Member
Location: Argentina
Posts: 3492
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Hi, Hussein,

Both the past (notice you wrote "present") progressive and the past simple can be used.

The meaning is slightly different: the past progressive gives us an idea of the action in development, or as the name of the tense indicates, in progress, while the past simple suggests an action that started and finished.

With the past progressive, one could imagine something else taking place at the same time:

- In the nineteenth century, while cities like X and Y had just came into being/were starting to grow/were growing slowly, cities like London and Manchester were growing very quickly.

Instead, the past simple depicts a completed process: London and Manchester grew very quickly in the nineteenth century.

Notice, by the way, that with the adverbial in front position the past progressive will be preferred, as it introduces the period during which the process that is to be described took place.
Member
Location: Cairo, Egypt
Posts: 128
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Thank you so much, Gustavo for your reply.


quote:
Both the past progressive and the past simple can be used.


Notice, by the way, that with the adverbial in front position the past progressive will be preferred, as it introduces the period during which the process that is to be described took place.


Does Swan have another opinion when he said, "past progressive is used for temporary actions or situations. When we talk about longer, permanent situations we use the simple past."?

I'll be grateful if you could give me examples to make it clear.
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    Grammar Exchange    Grammar Exchange  Hop To Forum Categories  The Grammar Exchange  Hop To Forums  Questions and Answers    "Past continuous" VS "Past simple"