If an action started in the past and lasted for some time, which tense should be used Past Simple or Past Perfect Continuous? For example, I worked out for two hours yesterday or I had been working out for two hours yesterday?
closed as off-topic by tchrist♦, anongoodnurse, Edwin Ashworth, Jim, user66974 Jun 15 '14 at 6:57
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This depends on context. The most common occasions for speaking of your workout with the four past tense+aspect constructions are:
If you are narrating past events in sequence, of which your workout was one, use the simple past.
I worked out for two hours yesterday, then went home and showered.
If you are narrating past events and your workout was the temporal 'background' within which some event occurred, use the past progressive.
I was working out for two hours yesterday, during which my house was robbed.
If you are narrating past events and 'cutting away' to mention your prior workout as the origin of some then-current state, use the past perfect.
I had worked out for two hours yesterday, and needed to go home and shower before I returned to the laboratory.
If that prior workout continued right up to the time of which you are speaking, you may prefer to employ the past perfect progressive.
I had been working out for two hours yesterday when I was suddenly called to the telephone.