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Can you tell me about 2 sentences below. I don't know which one is make sense or both of them are right?

  1. I went window-shopping.
  2. I was window-shopping.
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  • (a) window-shop is a compound verb [Collins]. So (2) is just the same construction as 'I was sleeping / talking / shopping ...'. The past continuous. // (b) There is the verb + ing-form construction that Cobuild call a 'phase-' construction: She goes dancing. He has gone fishing. He sat knitting. He came fishing with us. She went shopping. This is even sometimes called the 'go shopping' construction. This explains the first example. Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 11:54
  • There is also the difference between past and past continuous to consider, which I took to be the question.
    – KarlG
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 12:11

1 Answer 1

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We use go + Ving when we mean to move somewhere in order to do something. In this case you went (let's say to the shopping mall) to window-shop. Window-shopping was the reason for going there.

But I was window-shopping means that this activity was continuous. There is nothing about moving IN ORDER to do something.

Compare:

  1. I went skiing last winter (I did this activity then; I went to the mountains to practice skiing).
  2. I was skiing when the heavy snowfall began. (I was in the middle of skiing when it started snowing heavily).

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