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.
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