1.1 WHAT'S IN A NAME? THE CONTINUOUS ASPECT

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Question English
Answer English

We use the continuous form to describe a background action that was in progress when another (shorter) action happened
John was crying when I arrived.
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My partner was reading a book about babies' names when I got home.

We use the continuous form to talk about something that's incomplete, temporary, or still in progress (often emphasising the length of time)
He's living with his parents until he can find a house.
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The author of the book has been trying to think of a good name for it for months.

We use the continuous form to talk about situations that are in the process of changing
The economy is getting worse.
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These days it's getting easier and easier to change your name.

We use the continuous form to emphasize repeated actions (that may be annoying)
She's always playing her music loudly.
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She's always talking as if she's a household name, but she's only been on TV once!

We use the continuous form for plans that may not be definite
I was thinking of going home this weekend.
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I'm considering naming my dog after my hero: Che Guevara.

We use the continuous form to sound tentative and less direct when we make proposals, inquires, suggestions, etc.
I was wondering if I could borrow some money.
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I was hoping to borrow your car, if that's OK.

The photocopier (?) at the moment, but the engineer will fix it later.
isn't working/doesn't work
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The photocopier isn't working at the moment, but the engineer will fix it later.

You can't go because you (?) your work.
haven't been finishing/haven't finished
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You can't go because you haven't finished your work.

I (?) a great time when my dad came and dragged me home!
was having/had
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I was having a great time when my dad came and dragged me home!

The postal worker (?) the package right now.
is weighing/weighs
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The postal worker is weighing the package right now.

That's a tricky question and I (?) the answer.
am not knowing/don't know
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That's a tricky question and I don't know the answer.

I (?) through my old papers and I found a letter from you.
was looking/looked
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I was looking through my old papers and I found a letter from you.

Can you turn down the volume? I (?) on the phone.
am talking/talk
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Can you turn down the volume? I am talking on the phone.

I (?) the doorbell so I carried on watching TV.
wasn't hearing/didn't hear
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I didn't hear the doorbell so I carried on watching TV.

She has (?) all morning.
been studying/studied
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She has been studying all morning.

I live in Krakow, but I (?) a course in Warsaw this summer.
am doing/do
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I live in Krakow, but I am doing a course in Warsaw this summer.

A: (?) (cry)?
B: Because I just fell off my bike and it hurts!
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Why are you crying?
Because I just fell off my bike and it hurts!

A: (?) (work) there before they fired him?
B: About twenty years. He was devastated.
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How long was he working there before they fired him?
About twenty years. He was devastated.

A: (?) (do) since you graduated?
B: I've mainly been looking for jobs, but no luck so far.
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What have you been doing since you graduated?
I've mainly been looking for jobs, but no luck so far.

A: (?) (live) in Madrid?
B: Twenty-seven years. I moved here when I was twenty.
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How long have you been living in Madrid?
Twenty-seven years. I moved here when I was twenty.

A: (?) (talk) to when I saw you earlier?
Oh, she's an old schoolmate.
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Who were you talking to when I saw you earlier?
Oh, she's an old schoolmate.

A: (?) (want) to be when you were a child?
B: A firefighter. I loved the uniform!
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What did you want to be when you were a child?
A firefighter. I loved the uniform! (simple form)

A: (?) (wait) long?
B: About an hour. The hospital is always busy on a Saturday.
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Have you been waiting long?
About an hour. The hospital is always busy on a Saturday.

A: (?) (not finish) your degree?
B: Because I ran out of money and couldn't pay the tuition fees.
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Why didn't you finish your degree?
Because I ran out of money and couldn't pay the tuition fees. (simple form)

John's not in the office. He might have lunch.
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John's not in the office. He might be having lunch.
The action is still in progress.

I'm fed up. We've waited for an hour!
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I'm fed up. We've been waiting for an hour!
it's an unfinished action and emphasises the length of time

She owns a small house by the river.
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She owns a small house by the river.
correct

Can you be quiet? I try to work.
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Can you be quiet? I'm trying to work.
it's an action in progress at this time

The letter arrived today. She had expected the news since Monday.
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The letter arrived today. She'd been expecting the news since Monday.
it emphasises the length of time

That chicken dish tasted great.
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That chicken dish tasted great.
correct

Who do these keys belong to?
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Who do these keys belong to?
correct

By next September, we will have lived here for twenty-five years.
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By next September, we'll have been living here for twenty-five years.
it emphasises the length of time

I work on a project at the moment.
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I'm working on a project at the moment.
the action is still in progress

My partner made dinner when I got home so I helped.
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My partner was making dinner when I got home so I helped.
it talks about something that was in progress when I got home

My friend (?) to visit next week.
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My friend is coming to visit next week.

Harada is Japanese. He (?) from Osaka.
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Harada is Japanese. He comes from Osaka.

I (?) a cold for two weeks -I can't seem to get rid of it.
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I've had a cold for two weeks -I can't seem to get rid of it.

I (?) tennis lessons for two years.
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I've been having tennis lessons for two years.

My office (?) painted yesterday so I stayed home.
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My office was being painted yesterday so I stayed home.

The garden (?) really beautiful when I was a child.
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The garden was really beautiful when I was a child.

The children (?) homesick at all so they love travelling.
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The children don't get homesick at all so they love travelling.

The economy (?) any better - jobs are still at risk.
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The economy isn't getting any better - jobs are still at risk.

They knew me already because I (?) for that company before.
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They knew me already because I 'd worked for that company before.

I was exhausted because I (?) for sixteen hours.
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I was exhausted because I 'd been working for sixteen hours.


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