El niño se sentó en el regazo de su madre y escuchaba la historia.

English Sentence

The child sat on his mother’s lap and listened to the story.

I had expected the two verbs to have the same tense. "Estaba sentado … y escuchaba …” [?]

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The boy sat down. Next he listened to the story. There’s no overlap in the timing, so the verb tenses aren’t related to each other.

You could make an argument that the Spanish and English sentences given here have a subtle difference in meaning and that yours is a better match. But I think the English sentence is just ambiguous because we don’t always distinguish between the active sense of seating yourself and the passive sense of remaining seated.


Let me broaden the issue: is it generally meaningful in Spanish to use the preterite, y, and the imperfect?

“Me comí una manzana y veía un programa.” ?
“Apagué la tele y escuchaba música.” ?
“Me levanté y tenía sueño.” ?

Given that the imperfect doesn’t have a defined beginning or end, I personally find these sentences unlikely, but then I’m still only a learner.

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It’s not common, it doesn’t sound wrong but it’s better if you use other conjugations.

El niño se sentó en el regazo de su madre y escuchó la historia.

These two sound strange. Maybe because the verbs are too close.

“Me comí una manzana y ví un programa.”
“Apagué la tele y empecé a escuchar música.”

It sounds perfect and I can’t think of any other example of saying this. So I guess it depends on the phrase.