"We were writing in pencil."
Translation:Ni estis skribantaj per krajono.
So would it also be possible to say Ni estas skribintaj? Ni estis skribintaj? Ni skribintis? Ni skribantis? Ni skribintas?
Edit: I think I get it. It's talking about the time (in the past, hence "estis") when the action was currently taking place (hence "-ant"). I think "skribantis" would be identical.
"Estas skribintaj" = "skribintas" would be referencing the current time (hence "(est)as"), when the action had already taken place (hence "-int"). More or less the same case, but a slightly different nuance.
"Estis skribintaj" = "Skribintis" would be about a time in the past (hence "(est)is"), when the action was already in the past (i.e. even further in the past) (hence "-int"). Again a different nuance.
Is that more or less right? I hope so, because it'd be kinda cool how you could do all these different perspectives forward and backward in time, both from the present, and from the particular time you're talking about, looking toward a particular action that might be at a different time again.
Anyway most of the participles are not used very often (mostly in literature) and the 3*3 variants (estis/as/os skribinta/anta/onta) are more exact than many non-planned languages can express. It seems to me that your proposed "short forms" are not used, maybe not "illegal" though. Look yourself after PMEG at www.Bertilow.com .