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Are both forms grammatically correct?

As I was entering the shop, I saw her.

As I entered the shop, I saw her.

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Very minor point: note that there's not actually a gerund here - "As I was entering" contains a verb in the past continuous tense. A gerund is a noun, though confusingly in English it has the same form as the participle used in the present continuous - both have the form "-ing". So "Running is difficult" uses running as a gerund, as does "I like running", but "I am running" or "The running man looks tired" are not. –  psmears Feb 24 '11 at 20:23
    
Good point. I've changed the title. –  The English Chicken Feb 25 '11 at 11:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, because the action of entering can be seen as either an instant in time (one moment you're out, the next you're in), or an process with a certain duration (the time during which you open the door, get past the entrance, etc.).

In your first case (“as I was entering the shop”), you're saying that you saw here during that lapse of time. In the second case (“as I entered the shop”), you're saying things happened simultaneously. Both cases may be best exemplified as equivalent to:

  • As I was drying my hair, I dropped the hair dryer
  • As I fired the shot, I heard the loud noise of the gun
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You can use either. In that sentence, there is no difference in meaning between those two uses. The "as I was" adds immediacy to "entered" and doesn't give any extra immediacy to "was entering".

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Actually, when I read the question, I wondered about ‘As entering’. ‘entering’ is the gerund form, ‘was entering’ is past progressive/continuous. [Oh, checked back, psmears beat me to it.]

For the ‘ing’ form, gerund = participle. There's another participle, ‘entered’, ‘gone’. It's often confusing labeled ‘past partciple’.

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