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Can we use from when we are talking about the beginning of a period of time in Past Continuous but without indicating when that period of time stopped.

For example:

We were playing in the garden from 4 p.m. yesterday.

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  • Certainly. Usually you would include an end point (". . . from four-thirty till six-fifteen") but it's not required. Leaving it out tends to imply that the activity continues into the present.
    – Robusto
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 19:34
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    @Robusto: I disagree with your second sentence. If you want to say that the activity continues into the present, you have to use the present perfect continuous ("We have been playing in the garden"); and even then, since is more natural than from.
    – ruakh
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 20:21
  • Yeah, I think when I said that I unconsciously had present progressive in my mind. this tends to happen with afterthoughts.
    – Robusto
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 20:30
  • @ruakh: Do you mean that "We were playing in the garden since 4 p.m. yesterday." is correct? Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 20:33
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    @RuslanMukhanov: No, that's not what I mean; but "We had been playing in the garden since 4 PM" would be fine, if the context provides some specific later point in time when you were still playing.
    – ruakh
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 20:41

1 Answer 1

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We were playing in the garden from 4 p.m. yesterday.

Yes, that is fine. There is no precise indication of when the activity finished but we know it has finished.

However there is some ambiguity.

  1. We were playing in the garden from (4 p.m. yesterday). [The action is all in the past. We know that it finished before the sentence was spoken]

  2. We were playing in the garden (from 4 p.m.) yesterday. [The action took place yesterday. We know it finished by midnight because that is when yesterday finished]

P.S. The ambiguity is resolved in conversation by tone of voice. In (1) there is a minor rising tone on 4 p.m. that falls on 'yesterday'. In (2) there is a rising tone on both 4 p.m. and 'yesterday'.

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  • Don`t you think that the progressive aspect has to be used instead ? The action started in the past and was in progress up to another point in the past.
    – Beqa
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 8:29

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