What's new

Welcome to Japan Reference (JREF) - the community for all Things Japanese.

Join Today! It is fast, simple, and FREE!

Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

I had been doing homework when Mary called me

hirashin

Sempai
Donor
Joined
8 Apr 2004
Messages
2,605
Reaction score
47
Dear native English speakers,
I have a question.
I made this translation problem.
I ( )( )( ) homework when Mary called me.
(meaning: メアリーが電話をかけてきたとき、私は宿題をしていました)
My answer was
(a) I was doing my homework when Mary called me. 

But my colleague says (b) may also be fine.
(b) I had been doing homework when Mary called me.
What do you think?

Hirashin
 

tasqunevie

後輩
Joined
5 Jul 2017
Messages
36
Reaction score
3
Dear native English speakers,
I have a question.
I made this translation problem.
I ( )( )( ) homework when Mary called me.
(meaning: メアリーが電話をかけてきたとき、私は宿題をしていました)
My answer was
(a) I was doing my homework when Mary called me. 

But my colleague says (b) may also be fine.
(b) I had been doing homework when Mary called me.
What do you think?

Hirashin

The difference here is that 'had been' usually indicates that the action is still continuous, and 'was' suggests a one-time event that has ceased (here, by the interruption of being called by Mary).

You're asking some pretty complex English here! To be honest, most native English speakers wouldn't have any idea or pay any mind to this kind of difference. It's extremely subtle and rarely detectable.
 

mdchachi

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
6 Mar 2003
Messages
3,370
Reaction score
910
As the others said they are both correct; the difference is subtle and your typical native speaker probably can't explain it. (Even a typical American school teacher I bet).
 

hirashin

Sempai
Donor
Joined
8 Apr 2004
Messages
2,605
Reaction score
47
Interesting. Thank you all for the help, Julimaruchan, tasqunevie, and mdchachi.

I've seen "doing my homework" more often than "doing homework". Is "my" optional?
Can you say "I'm doing homework" instead of "I'm doing my homework"?
 
Joined
21 Jun 2017
Messages
703
Reaction score
95
Yeah, you can use that too. It's an identical meaning since you wouldn't be doing other people's homework.
 
Top Bottom