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Past continuous


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Suppose you have the sentences "I was eating very carefully" or "I was going to bed really late".

Do you think "action in progress at a precise moment in the past" entirely captures the meaning?

In these cases, is a precise time implied ("When I was younger...) - which doesn't go with the rest of the sentence - or is the real meaning of the past continuous here "I used to"?

In other languages it is called the imperfect tense and it has the alternative meaning of I used to. So too in English?

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  • Head Tutor

Good question, Sunny.

The answer is that Past Continuous is NOT used as an alternative to 'used to'. The 'precise' moment has to be considerably shorter than 'when I was young'. It can be a very precise moment, or it can be the background to a shorter action:

I was watching a movie at 7 last night. / I was watching a movie when the phone rang.
I used to watch a movie every night when I was younger. 

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