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I'm quite confused right now. I'm not sure if this sentence makes any sense, so please help me out. Is it correct to say:

"Before I started looking for suggestions on reddit, I browsed the "explore" and "recommendations" section on goodreads."

Or:

"Before I started looking for suggestions on reddit, I was browsing the "explore" and "recommendations" section on goodreads."

I would also love to know which tense I'm using, since figuring that out is one of my weaknesses.

  • If those are two separate sections, then it should be the "explore" and "recommendations" sections (plural). If it's a single section, then it should be the "explore and recommendations" section – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Sep 5 '18 at 16:51
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Both are grammatically possible, but the second is semantically improbable, and so sounds like an erroneous attempt at saying the first.

The 'I browsed' in:

"Before I started looking for suggestions on reddit, I browsed the "explore" and "recommendations" section on goodreads."

is in the Simple Past tense, referring to a completed action in a time before now.

The 'I was browsing' in:

"Before I started looking for suggestions on reddit, I was browsing the "explore" and "recommendations" section on goodreads."

is in the Past Continuous tense, referring to a action in a time before now, either incomplete or with no definite point of completion.

"Before Jill visited, I baked some cakes" implies that I had finished baking the cakes before she arrived, and probably, that I baked the cakes for her.

"Before Jill visited, I was baking some cakes" implies that Jill interrupted my baking, and I set it aside to entertain her.

Since it is very likely that you mean you had abandoned looking for suggestions in "goodreads" before turning to "reddit", the Simple Past seems more natural.

  • Hi Robin Betts! Thank you for your helpful response. I have no further questions. – JVermeer Sep 5 '18 at 11:52
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Seems the first one is correct: you finished browsing before looking for suggestions. Both are in Past Simple time, to my knowledge.

The Past Continous time (used in the second sentence) is used when you were doing something (was browsing) and interrupted that with a Past Simple activity, i.e.:

You were browsing the "suggestions" board (PC) when you noticed (PS) an interesting entry.

You could also use the Perfect time variations, for example "I have browsed the boards a little, before starting to look for suggestions".

  • 1
    Hi hauron! Thank you very much for your response. It is now clear to me which sentence I should use in which case. – JVermeer Sep 5 '18 at 11:50

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