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"I answered the phone in my apartment and heard the sloping drawl of one of my students , Travis. " Miss Diana , " he said , "Could you come on down the stairs a minute?"

It was early May on the Great Plains . The University of Nebraska had just let out for the summer, and there was an aroma of pasture and cow everywhere, even - when the wind was right - - at the center of the city. I didn't want to be in Nebraska. I was 26 years old , and I wanted to be writing novels , not grading papers on detasseling corn."

These sentences have been recited from the following link:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/magazine/2004/07/11/the-goddess-of-flowers/f0ca69bf-fb03-47e2-bd6a-460073fbdf52/

1) In first sentence why has past indefinite tense been used? My opinion is- we should use past continuous tense in this case, i,e we could say- I was answering the phone.....". Please, tell what you think.

Thanks to everyone of this forum.

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1) In first sentence why past indefinite tense has been used? My opinion is- we should use past continuous tense in this case, i,e we could say- I was answering the phone.....". Please, tell what you think.

Answering the phone consists of lifting the receiver and saying, "Hello". It takes only an instant. After that you are 'taking a call' or 'talking on the phone'.

In this case a sequence of events is being described. (1) I answered the phone and then (2) after I answered I heard a voice.

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    Right. Answering is inchoative (change of state), and punctual (it happens once, and in a short time). Punctual predicates can't use the progressive _be + ing_ construction unless they're repeated (e.g, hammering a nail), but this only happens at the beginning. And the past tense is often unnecessarily called "simple past", but I've never heard it called "indefinite past" before. That's a bad term; indefinite already means something very specific, and it doesn't have anything to do with tense. There are only two tenses in English, so we don't need more than "past" and "present". – John Lawler Oct 24 '15 at 15:04

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