We can use these two tenses together as below, for example:

While she was walking on a sunny beach, Amy slowly read an extremely long book about justice.

I was wondering under what conditions we can use this structure, i.e. While + PS + PS:

While she was on a sunny beach, Amy slowly read an extremely long book about justice.

  • Yes, but most speakers would delete she was. If it's important to put the sunny beach location at the front, you get to assume Amy is there, since she's the subject and the next noun. Likewise, you get to assume the past of was, because read is past tense. By the way, there's no rule about using more than one of any tense in the same sentence; I have no idea where that notion might come from. Use whatever tenses you need to use, wherever you need them. They're not very important in English anyway, and they're getting less so. Oct 24, 2019 at 16:05
  • Thank you for comment. You are mantioning that the first clause is just to emphasize on the location.
    – sci9
    Oct 24, 2019 at 16:56

1 Answer 1


This is a 'complex sentence' (that has a main clause and minimum one dependent clause).
The first clause is Past Continuous, and the second one, in Simple Past tense. This structure implies "when an action took place, the other was progressing."

Here, both clauses have a common subject. It is similar to "While watching the movie, I forgot the bus-timing."

This can better be written as, "Walking on a sunny beach, Amy slowly read an extremely long book about justice"; now it is a simple sentence (single-clause sentence).

  • Thank you for answer. But what about the second sentence? When we can use past simple instead of past continuous?
    – sci9
    Oct 24, 2019 at 16:40
  • Simple past with simple past is possible. While I drove the car, my wife gave me directions. While he sang, she danced. Also when we report the sentence "She said, "I like you", it becomes, She said (that) she liked me.
    – Ram Pillai
    Oct 24, 2019 at 16:58
  • Merci for your clarification.
    – sci9
    Oct 24, 2019 at 17:02

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