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I came across this phrase answering exercises about the difference between past continuous, past simple, and past perfect.

"The crowd _____ (cheer) when the referee _____ (blow) the final whistle."

If I am not mistaken, in the last blank it should be "blew", regardless of the first verb.

So which sounds more suitable: "cheered" or "were cheering"?

Thanks in advance :-)

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    Either one is acceptable, you will have to do a review of the different tenses to determine which tense is the one you want. The first implies the crowd cheered as a result of the action taken by the referee. The latter (ignoring the error of 'were' which should be 'was') means the crowd was cheering already irrespective of the action taken by the referee. – Val Jun 6 '18 at 20:30
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    The progressive was cheering means that the cheer started before the whistle sounded and continued through the whistle (perhaps drowning out the whistle). The simple past cheered, on the other hand, means that the whistle sounded before the cheer started. As you say, there's no reason to use a progressive with blow in either case, since the whistle is a punctual event, while the cheer is durative. – John Lawler Jun 9 '18 at 17:25
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The crowd cheered when the referee blew the whistle.

Another way of saying this would:

The crowd was cheering when the referee blew the whistle.

And since the crowd is a singular noun you must use the past tense of 'is' - 'was'.

Edit: However, both statements have different meanings. In the former, the crowd cheered because the referee blew the whistle. While in the latter the crowd was already cheering when the referee blew the whistle. The referee's action simply coincided with the crowd's cheering.

I know a comment has already been made explaining the same. I just updated my answer because it was lacking.

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