Is there a difference in meaning between "J'ai été là pendant quarante-cinq minutes" vs. "J'étais là pendant quarante-cinq minutes"? My inclination was to use passé composé because it was an action that happened and ended, but I see the latter sentence in the lesson example. Can someone please explain the difference?
Être is a verb of state and therefore most frequently used in the imperfect tense. In the example you quote, the state of “being there” asks for the imperfect. Here is another example to demonstrate the difference:
Quand il a appris cela, il était à la plage.
Quand il a appris cela, il a été furieux.
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