Sentence: He was living in Japan for 5 years.


He was living in Japan for 5 years.

I know the sentence above is weird, but I cannot explain why. Progressive doesn’t agree with “for(duration)”, but why? Please answer me!


Good morning SweetP. The sentence is not weird at all. Perfectly acceptable English.

Hi, Kitosdad,

He was living in Japan for 5 years.

I’ve checked the grammar book. It says past progressive shows that sometning was in progress around a particular past time. Since ‘for 5 years’ is not a particular past time but a duration of time, I think that’s why the sentence is wrong. But… do you mean, even though the sentence is grammatically wrong, it is acceptable in English?


SweetP, it is certainly acceptable English.

He was living in Japan for five years.

I am pretty sure that some of our grammatical experts may find a fault somewhere in the text, but as an everyday comment it is perfectly acceptable.

I still think ‘He was living in Japan for the past five years’ would be more acceptable if I intend to put ‘for’ and ‘past progressive’ together. Anyway, thanks for your attention, Kitosdad.

If you have “a period of time” Present Perfect Continuous is used.

He has been/had been living in Japan for 5 years.

Hi Sweetpumpkin,

‘He was living in Japan for five years’ is all right as it stands but it leaves the reader/listener asking: Yes, and then what? The Past Continuous is often used as a background tense and is often set against something in the Past Simple saying what happened during this period. With that in mind you could say: He was living in Japan for five years when he realised that it was time to learn the language properly.