Past simple and Past continuous

ceedhanna posted:

This website (http://www.time4english.com/aa.../school/gram18b1.asp) states that when It is unclear whether there are two long actions. We can use when or while: [...]

How far is that true?

Hi, Ceedhanna: The condition, as you have stated it, makes no sense to me.

ceedhanna posted:

The dog was barking when she was talking to her mother on the phone.

The dog was barking while she was talking to her mother on the phone.

Both sentences are fine. I do sense a subtle difference between them, and, if I ever get around to replying to your general inquiry concerning "when" and "while" and the progressive, I shall point to this type of difference.

The subtle difference is this. The sentence with "while," unlike the sentence with "when," indicates that the dog's barking continued throughout the period of time during which she was talking to her mother on the phone.

The sentence with "when," by contrast, would be true even if the dog was barking only for part of the period of time during which she was talking to her mother on the phone. "While" is broader, if you will, than "when" is.

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