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Last week I had a test and there was a confusing question: we had to put the bare verb in the brackets into the correct forms and that question was: ""When I woke up last night, it .... (rain) heavily." I filled in the gap with "had rained" but the correct answer was "was raining". Can anyone explain why I was wrong? Thank you!

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    Your answer was not incorrect. – Hot Licks Apr 19 at 1:44
  • Thanks for your answer! By the way, I think that the question did not give us enough infomation about the action "woke up" and was quite ambiguous, so both of the answers are acceptable. Am I right? – Kate Ng Apr 19 at 1:54
  • Yes, it was ambiguous. – Hot Licks Apr 19 at 2:00
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When I woke up last night, it was raining heavily.

This means that it was still raining (drip, drip, drip) when you woke up. You could hear the rainfall outside the window.

When I woke up last night, it had rained heavily.

This means that it rained for some time, and then it stopped, and it wasn't raining for some time, and then you woke up.

Neither answer is incorrect, even though the second one sounds a bit awkward without a suitable context.

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    The second would seem more normal if it continued "... and the streets were still wet", for instance. – Hot Licks Apr 19 at 2:01
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    Thank you guys for your help! – Kate Ng Apr 19 at 2:05
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When I woke up last night, it ________ heavily. (rain)

a. was raining

b. rained

c. had rained

Grammatically speaking, I think all three are possible.

a. means that it had started raining before I woke up, and it continued raining after I woke up.

b. could mean the same as a., but it would normally mean that it started raining right after I woke up.

c. means that it had started and stopped raining before I woke up. Without further context, though, c. could sound weird because normally you wouldn't know whether it had rained heavily or not since it had only rained while you were sleeping.

  • Wow what a detailed answer! Thank you so much! – Kate Ng Apr 19 at 3:08
  • @KateNg: There are two arrows to the left of the answer. If you like the answer, you might as well press the arrow pointing upward, which would award the answerer with points. – Ricky Apr 19 at 5:22
  • @Ricky _ She doesn't have that privilege yet which requires 15 reputations, but she can accept an answer as the OP. – Tasneem ZH Apr 19 at 8:52
  • @TasneemZH: Give her a plus-one, then! – Ricky Apr 19 at 14:01
  • @Ricky _ I don't have any reason and/or motive to do that. – Tasneem ZH Apr 19 at 17:56

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