I know that we use used to or would for past habits but i've seen many times past continuous in sentences where it does not show annoyance or it's not the background of a story. for example, is the following sentence correct? would a native speaker use that?

i was buying a lot of books when i lived in Paris.

  • 1
    Although it is possible to construct a theoretical framing that would allow that sentence, it is not how one would normally express this.
    – tchrist
    Feb 27, 2018 at 19:49
  • I would use it. It sounds conversational and like the start of a story.
    – Pam
    Feb 27, 2018 at 20:27
  • That sounds like you're describing a single incident. "This one time I was buying a lot of books, when I lived in Paris, and the cashier said to me…"
    – Kevin
    Feb 27, 2018 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


Actually, this sounds perfectly fine in the dialects that I grew up speaking (southern England) and speak now (Toronto Canada). For me it's perfectly normal to say something like, "Back in those days I was doing a lot of dope". Or "When I was twenty I was driving an old VW bug"

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