Question: What is the best way to say ''He waited for twenty minutes.''?
Correct Answer: Il a attendu pendant vingt minutes.
Wrong Answer: Il attendait pendant vingt minutes.
If the question was "He was waiting for twenty minutes.", would the correct answer then be "Il attendait pendant vingt minutes."?
actually, I don't think so. According to my understanding the translation of "He waited for 20 minutes" and "He was waiting for 20 minutes" would both be "Il a attendu pendant 20 minutes."
However, in the context there may be additional information available which would dictiate the use of the imperfect.
I used to wait 20 minutes. -- J'attendais pendant 20 minutes.Here you use the imperfect because the sentence alludes to a general habit rather than a one-off kind of experience.
He was waiting for the bus when we met. -- Il attendait le bus quand nous nous sommes rencontrés.
Sorry....I got kicked out and couldn't finishe the post. So here goes:
He was waiting for the bus when we met. -- Il attendait le bus quand nous nous sommes rencontrés.In this case you have to actions going on: one as a kind of background action (the waiting) and the other as the main focus (the meeting). The former is in the imperfect, the latter in the perfect.
-- Chris (not a native teacher).
Hi Peter, the imperfect version has a different connotation than its counterpart in passé composé. In English, this connotation isn't captured perfectly by a one single translation but rather by several. Which one of these captures the right flavor at any one specific instance is determined by context.
"Nous attendions à la porte." could mean:We were waiting at the door.We used to wait at the door.
"Nous avons attendu à la porte." however, is simply:We waited at the door.
Using one or the other expresses different situations, so they aren't generally interchangeable.
-- Chris (not a native speaker).
Returning to your original question of how to translate "We were waiting at the door."
I guess I would lean toward the imparfait since the continuous form expresses a kind of duration or a background action. But, to me, this is less obvious than the two other pretty clear-cut examples in my previous post.
Don't know if you have figured out this... I guess I share in your impression. For me "pendent 20 mins" is talking about continuous action in the past which lasted 20 mins, rather than a habitual, regular, or perfect action. For me this question in the test which gives no context but this "pendent" has to be either completed with more info or the lesson has to clarify on this. It is still ambiguous. Glad i wasnt alone about this "pendent 20 mins"..
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