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was typing / had been typing

 
 
Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2008 10:48 pm
Benedict was typing / had been typing for three hours before he realised that he had typed the wrong documents.

Should it be 'had been typing' or 'was typing'?

Many thanks.
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Type: Question • Score: 0 • Views: 2,001 • Replies: 25
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thegalacticemperor
 
  2  
Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2008 10:49 pm
@tanguatlay,
'had been typing' is superior
saab
 
  -1  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 12:23 am
@tanguatlay,
Ben was typing when the doorbell rang. He was doing something and was interupted.
Ben had been typing for three hours -shows the amount of time he did something
0 Replies
 
saab
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 12:29 am
@tanguatlay,
Ben was typing when the doorbell rang. He was doing something and was interupted.
Ben had been typing for three hours - shows the amount of time he did something - before he realised that he had typed the wrong documents.
tanguatlay
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 05:26 am
@saab,
Thanks, Saab and Thegalacticemperor.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 12:48 pm
@thegalacticemperor,
Quote:
TGE wrote: 'had been typing' is superior


Could you offer an explanation as to why you believe the past perfect form is superior, GE?
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 12:57 pm
@JTT,
I don't know why he thinks it is but I strongly agree.

The simple past tense for this kind of sentence was a primarily American abusage that is now accepted in American English but that loses a lot of the meaning of the past perfect tense.
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 01:03 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
The simple past tense for this kind of sentence was a primarily American abusage that is now accepted in American English but that loses a lot of the meaning of the past perfect tense.


I don't see that any meaning is lost, Robert. Perhaps you could explain further.
George
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 02:01 pm
@JTT,
Quote:
Benedict was typing / had been typing for three hours before he realised that he had typed the wrong documents.

"Had been typing" is the past perfect progressive tense. This tense is used to
show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in
the past
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 02:06 pm
@George,
Quote:
"Had been typing" is the past perfect progressive tense. This tense is used to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past


I agree, George, it is the past perfect progressive/continuous but we know, clearly, that it isn't the only way that we can do this. I agree that it sounds more natural in this situation, but I can certainly envision other situations where the past progressive/continuous could be used.
George
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 02:11 pm
@JTT,
JTT wrote:
...we know, clearly, that it isn't the only way that we can do this.

For example?
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 02:14 pm
@George,
Benedict was typing for three hours before he realised that he had typed the wrong documents.

[A little aside: does 'had type' sound to you like he finished typing all the documents?]
George
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 03:26 pm
@JTT,
I still think "was typing" is incorrect in this context, but I won't belabor the
issue. Certainly the sense is easily understood by most readers of English. I'd
argue more strenuously if we were discussing Latin.

"Had typed the wrong documents" doesn't sound to me as if he had finished,
only that the typing had occurred before another action in the past, "he
realized".
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 03:32 pm
@George,
How would we ever know, George? Isn't Latin a dead language?

Quote:
"Had typed the wrong documents" doesn't sound to me as if he had finished, only that the typing had occurred before another action in the past, "he realized".


Wouldn't "had been typing the wrong documents" show that he was in the process while "had typed the wrong documents" indicate a finish?

George
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 03:39 pm
@JTT,
Quote:
How would we ever know, George? Isn't Latin a dead language?

Yes, but well-defined.

George
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 03:41 pm
@JTT,
Quote:
Wouldn't "had been typing the wrong documents" show that he was in the process while "had typed the wrong documents" indicate a finish?

Good point.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 03:54 pm
@George,
A well-defined language may well mean an inaccurately described language, George.

Prescriptivists thought that they were doing yeoman service wrt English when all they were doing was making up a lot of silly rules that were not reflected in actual use.

It's my personal opinion, and I'll certainly have to defer to your much greater knowledge of Latin, that unless a person is an actual native speaker, they miss a great deal of nuance in language. Direct translations are often widely inaccurate.
George
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 04:41 pm
@JTT,
My Latin prof in years gone by used to say that every translation is an interpretation.
tanguatlay
 
  2  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2008 09:24 pm
@George,
Hi JTT and other fellow members

What does 'wrt' stand for?

I'm still in the maze despite the numerous responses from different members.

I hope I'll finally be able to decide which is the correct version.

Many thanks to those who responded to my query.
tanguatlay
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2008 11:22 am
@tanguatlay,
Hi JTT
Could you tell me what 'wrt' stand?

Thanks in advance.
0 Replies
 
 

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