Translation:The boys who were eating in the restaurant were my friends.
I almost agree with you. It's important to fit in and be normal. What I see happening is that when people digress from what used to be considered correct, there is one more option ("that" in addition to "who" in this case) and that introduces uncertainty as to what is correct until considerable time passes and an overwhelming majority rules. This makes it harder to learn grammar and learn foreign languages. It seems to have happened with "as best as I can" instead of "as well as I can" (which felt correct to me many years ago). For consistency I think maybe we should be saying "as fastest as I can", "as longest as I can", "as hardest as she wants" etc. [I think the "best as" came from confusion around "as best we can" meaning that we are the best people to do something, not that we will do our best job.]
"Que" can be used for that, which, or who...and a few others ;) You can use "that" or "who" interchangeably, but you cannot use "which" when talking about people. (Some people, as I now see above, don't accept "that" for people.)
So, the Spanish "que" is always correct, but the English has rules.
Just one clarification please, does if we used "Los ninos que estuvieron comiendo en el restaurante eran mis amigos " how does his change the meaning ?
Does the actual sentence mean they were eating then and may be still go to the restaurante together but my sentence means they were eating only then ! but still please give clear cut distinction , thanks
I think the use of the imperfect here rather than the preterite means that there used to be children that ate at that restaurant (perhaps regularly or of indeterminate times) as opposed to some children that ate there at a time period that would have started and ended at particular times (which would be an instance of the use of the preterite tense). That's why the Imperfect is, well, imperfect. It is less determinate with regard to time.
While these distinctions may make Spanish seem more complex to a native English speaker, they may also allow a Spanish speaker a greater ability to set the stage when speaking about the past. This can enrich a language as a means of conveying meaning, mood, feelings, etc. The same idea goes with respect to the Subjunctive mood. Perhaps these are a few of the reasons why I find Spanish to be such a rich language that I am learning to love. I hope I'm explaining this well. Can anybody help?
Hola SaqlainAli: I am also struggling with this whole concept and I am finding it helpful to create narratives around the sentences. So, for example, I think your sentence would be " The children who ate at the restaurant were my friends." So the story might continue: "They got food poisoning and won't go there anymore" So they ate there at some point but not anymore. The target sentence: "The children who were eating in the restaurant were my friends" might continue "and when the car crashed through the window they were injured." In the story I am telling the action (eating) is going on for an indefinite period even though in real time it has already finished. Not sure if I am right but it is helping me.