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Had been drinking vs was drinking Options
Jigneshbharati
Posted: Friday, March 9, 2018 12:26:25 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/3/2016
Posts: 1,511
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He had been drinking milk out the carton when Mom walked into the kitchen.

link/

Could someone please explain to me the deference between the above and the following:

He was drinking...?
thar
Posted: Friday, March 9, 2018 1:22:08 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

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The past perfect places one event in the past before another.

So, the last event is 'Mum walked in'.
So 'had been drinking' means it happened before that, and ended before or at the time that she entered.




In your second example you have two past events.
One is progressive - it is happening while something elae happens. He was drinking
One is simple - it is a singl action. She entered.

You have the word 'when' to show these happened at the same time.
He was drinking when she entered. Depending on context, he could have stopped as e result of her entrance, or carried on drinking.
Eg
He was drinking when


So they indicate different timing of events.

Eg
He had been drinking when she walked in. He had been down the pub for hours, so he was very drunk.

He was drinking when she walked in, and he kept on drinking as she put the shopping away.
He was drinking when she walked in, but he put down his mug and helped her put the shopping away.

How they are used and what they mean will depend on context.
FounDit
Posted: Friday, March 9, 2018 1:25:11 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 9,016
Neurons: 48,348
Jigneshbharati wrote:
He had been drinking milk out the carton when Mom walked into the kitchen.

link/

Could someone please explain to me the deference between the above and the following:

He was drinking...?


The difference is in the idea of a continuing action. Saying he had been drinking milk out of the carton when Mom walked into the kitchen coveys the idea that he stopped drinking at the moment she walked in.

Saying he was drinking conveys the idea that he continued to drink even after she walked into the kitchen. Perhaps he didn't see her, or he didn't care, but the action continued, at least for some time. It may have been only a moment or two, or a minute or two, but the sense is that he was still drinking when she came in.

cross post with thar.


A great many people will think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. ~ William James ~
Jigneshbharati
Posted: Friday, March 9, 2018 2:25:58 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 11/3/2016
Posts: 1,511
Neurons: 8,853
Thank you to both of you for making it easy to understand!
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