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Access Summer Camp

June 25-29, 2012

Narrative Tenses:
Practicing Narrative Tenses Through Writing Chain Stories

What are narrative tenses?

Narrative tenses are the grammatical structures that you use when telling a story, or talking about situations and activities which happened at a defined past time. When narrating past events, DO NOT mix past and present tenses, as these will confuse the reader/listener about when things really happened. The most common narrative tenses are: Past Simple Tense Past Continuos Tense Past Perfect Simple Tense Past Perfect ContinuousTense

Past Simple Tense


Use
One time past actions

Form
Verb + ed Or Verb in past form

Affirmative
I played soccer. I went shopping.

Negative
I didnt play soccer. I didnt go shopping.

Interrogative
Did you play soccer? Did you go shopping?

I woke up (1) at half past seven yesterday, I had a shower (2) and ate some breakfast (3). I left for work (4) at quarter past eight. Remember that there are phrases and helpers in your sentence that can help you identify the simple past tense. They are called Key Words.

Key Words:

Last

ago

in 1990

yesterday

The past simple is used

a) to express a completed action at a definite time in the past. The separate events which occur in sequence in a narrative are expressed using this tense I woke up (1) at 8am, had a shower (2) and ate some breakfast (3). I left for work (4) at 9am. NOTE: Past simple is the most common tense after 'When?' in questions.

b) to express past habits.


I went to school in London until my family moved to New York. NOTE: Used to + verb is often used to express past habits and states that happened in the past, but do not happen now. Used to can not be used for actions which only occurred once. I used to work for Google. (I don't work for them now)

Past Continuous Tense


Use
An action that happens in the middle of another action

Form
Was/ were + verb + ing

Affirmative
I was playing soccer. I was going shopping.

Negative
I wasnt playing soccer. I wasnt going shopping.

Interrogative
Were you playing soccer? Were you going shopping?

Something that someone did at a certain time in the past

When I saw her (1), she was wearing (2) a blue dress and was driving (2) a Mercedes.
As with all continuous tenses, the past continuous gives the idea of activity and duration.

Key Words:

When

while

The past continuous is used


a) To describe the situation in which the events of the narrative occurred. When I woke up at 8am (1) the sun was shining (2) and the birds were singing (2). I had a shower (3), ate some breakfast (4) and left for work at 9am. (5) b) to express an activity in progress at a time in the past.

What were you doing (1) when I phoned (2) you? NOTE: The past continuous is the most common tense after

'while' in questions and statements.

Past continuous also expresses the idea of:

a) an interrupted activity

E.g. She was cooking dinner when the door bell rang. (She cooked dinner = she finished it)
b) an unfinished activity E.g. I was reading the book you lent me. (I read the book... = I finished reading the whole book) c) a repeated action E.g. They were shooting at the enemy. (They shot.... = They fired the gun one time only) d) a temporary situation

E.g. He was standing on the corner waiting for a bus. (It stood on the corner. = Permanent situation)

Past Perfect Simple Tense


Use Form Affirmative Negative Interrogative

An action that happens in the past before another past action The past of the present perfect

Had + verb in the past participle

I had played soccer. I had been shopping.

I hadnt played soccer. I hadnt been shopping.

Had you played soccer? Had you been shopping?

I woke up (1) at half past seven yesterday. I had slept very badly (2) because there had been a power cut (3) during the night. Key Words: Already just never by the time

The past perfect simple is used


a) to show that an action or situation happened BEFORE the events in the narrative described in the past simple. E. g. When I woke up at 8am (1), the sun was shining and the birds were singing. I had slept (2) really well the night before. I had a shower (3), ate some breakfast (4) and left for work at 9am. (5) b) to make a narrative more interesting to read. It is generally seen as bad literary style to have too many verbs in the same tense. In English it is always best to avoid repetition where possible. Look again at the example used to illustrate the past simple tense. E.g. I woke up at 8am, had a shower and ate some breakfast. I left for work at 9am. This sentence could be improved for dramatic effect by using past perfect. E.g. I woke up at 8am and left for work at 9am after I'd had a shower and eaten some breakfast.

Past Perfect Continuous Tense


Use How long something was happening before another past action started Form Had+ been + verb + ing Affirmative I had been playing soccer. I had been going shopping. Negative I hadnt been playing soccer. I hadnt been going shopping. Interrogative Had you been playing soccer? Had you been giong shopping?

He looked very tired (1), he had been working very hard (2) over the past three weeks. Key Words: How long Since for

The past perfect continuos is used


a) for longer activities that were happening continuously up until a specified time in the past. He looked very tired (1), he had been working very hard (2) over the past three weeks. As with the past continuous, the past perfect continuous can show the following: a) Unfinished activity E.g. He hadn't heard the telephone ring because he'd been reading. b) Repeated activity

E.g.

I was tired. I'd been cutting wood all day.

With the past perfect simple, the focus is on the completed activity. E.g. He'd read 3 reports that morning. He'd cut a huge pile of wood.

EXERCISE1: Put the verb in brackets into the correct form in the gap AFTER the verb. Where no verb is given, put one of the following linking words into the gaps: while / finally / and / although / however / as soon as / but / then / before / when (there's one linking word you don't need to use).
The Unlucky Burglar One evening Paul (watch) ____________ the television ____________ (eat) ____________ his supper ____________ the door suddenly (open) ____________ and a burglar (come) ____________ in. He (wear) ____________ a mask and (carry) ____________ a sack. ____________ doing anything else he (tie) ____________ Paul to the chair. ____________ he went upstairs to look for money. ____________ he (not find) ____________ any money he (find) ____________ a lot of jewelry, which he (put) ____________ into his sack. In his rush to get downstairs he (not see) ____________ the dog (lie) ____________ at the bottom of the stairs, and he (fall) ____________ over it, losing his glasses. ____________ the burglar (look for) ____________ them, Paul (try) ____________ to free himself. ____________ Paul (manage) ____________ to escape and he (phone) ____________ the police. ____________ the burglar (find) ____________ his glasses he (run) ____________ out of the house. ____________ unfortunately for him, the police (wait) ____________ for him at the end of the garden.

EXCERCISE 1: Correct Answers


but isn't used

The Unlucky Burglar One evening Paul was watching the television and eating his supper when the door suddenly opened and a burglar came in. He was wearing a mask and carrying a sack. Before doing anything else he tied Paul to the

chair. Then he went upstairs to look for money. Although he didn't find any
money he found a lot of jewelry, which he put into his sack. In his rush to get downstairs he didn't see the dog lying at the bottom of the stairs, and he fell over it, losing his glasses. While the burglar was looking for them, Paul tried to free himself. Finally Paul managed to escape and he phoned the police. As soon as the burglar had found his glasses he ran out of the house. However, unfortunately for him, the police were waiting for him at the end of the garden.

EXCERCISE 2: Put the verb in brackets into the correct form. Where possible, use 'used to' and 'would'.

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens ____________ (born) in 1812 in Portsmouth. The family ____________ (move) to London in 1823. When he was twelve he ____________ (work) in a blacking factory. He worked by a window facing the street and passersby ____________ (pause) and watch him at work. Everyday he ____________ (trudge) through the London streets from Camden Town to Southwark. His family ____________ (be) very poor. His mother ____________ (hope) to open a small school. While she ____________ (try) to do this, her husband ____________ (send) to prison for being 40 in debt. When Charles ____________ (be) twenty-four, his first work, sketches by Boz, ____________ (publish). This ____________ (follow) by Pickwick Papers with which he ____________ (achieve) financial security and popularity. For the rest of his life, work simply ____________ (pour) from his pen. He ____________ (die) of a stroke in 1870.

EXCERCISE 2: Correct Answers

Charles Dickens Charles Dickens was born in 1812 in Portsmouth. The family moved to London in 1823. When he was twelve he worked in a blacking factory. He worked by a window facing the street and passersby used to pause and

watch him at work. Every day he would trudge through the London streets
from Camden Town to Southwark. His family was very poor. His mother hoped to open a small school. While she was trying to do this, her husband was sent to prison for being 40 in debt. When

Charles was twenty-four, his first work, sketches by Boz, was published. This was followed by Pickwick Papers with which he would achieve / achieved financial security and popularity. For the rest of his life, work

simply poured from his pen. He died of a stroke in 1870.

EXCERCISE 3: Put the verb in brackets into the correct form. Sometimes, both the past simple and past perfect simple are possible.

1. Until I ____________ (explain) the situation to her I felt guilty. 2. After I ____________ (finish) my lunch I went back to work. 3. When the police ____________ (interview) me they let me go home. 4. As soon as I got home my brother ____________ (go out).

5. The children had to stay in until the rain ____________ (stop)


6. When I ____ (see) John coming towards me I walked in the other direction. 7. I phoned my mother to find out why she _________ (not write) for so long. 8. We stayed in our seats until the film ____________ (finish).

EXCERCISE 3: Correct Answers

1.

Until I had explained the situation to her I felt guilty.

2.
3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

After I finished / had finished my lunch I went back to work.


When the police had interviewed me they let me go home. As soon as I got home my brother went out. The children had to stay in until the rain had stopped. When I saw John coming towards me I walked in the other direction. I phoned my mother to find out why she hadn't written for so long. We stayed in our seats until the film finished / had finished.

EXCERCISE 4: Continue the following sentences using the words in bracket in either the past perfect simple or continuous.

1. My landlord threw me out of my flat because (not pay the rent for six months / and break all the windows) 2. When I eventually got to the meeting I was bad tempered and exhausted! I (sit in traffic jam 45 minutes / motorist bump into me / and get completely lost) 3. By the time 5 o'clock arrived Brenda was furious. She (wait for an hour / drink six cups of tea / and they still not arrive) 4. I was so depressed that I couldn't do the exam. I (study every day for two months / and give up see my friends)

EXCERCISE 4: Correct Answers

1. My landlord threw me out of my flat because hadn't paid the rent for six months and had broken all the windows.

2. When I eventually got to the meeting I was bad tempered and exhausted! I had been sitting in a traffic jam for 45 minutes, a motorist had bumped into me and I had got completely lost.
3. By the time 5 o'clock arrived Brenda was furious. She had been waiting for an hour, had drunk six cups of tea and they still hadn't arrived. 4. I was so depressed that I couldn't do the exam. I had studied every day for two months and had given up seeing my friends.