Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Mario V. Farina
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1Many people understand that there is a past tense. When one wants to tell about something that happened in the past, they may use the past tense as illustrated in this example:
Yesterday was a good day for me. At the office I got an unexpected raise. At home, I received a letter offering me a job in another city a with a huge raise in pay.
This was written using the past tense all the way. Past tense verbs in this piece were was, got, and received.
Virtually all verbs in the English language have a past tense form, and that form is usually not difficult to learn.
Some individuals use two tenses, the present and the past, to tell about events that occurred at an earlier time. An incident may be described this way:
Yesterday, the doorbell rang. I answered and saw a man in work clothes standing there. He pushes right past me and walks into the kitchen. “Where’s the gas meter,” he asks. I was scared. “Who are you? I asked. He keeps walking around, not answering me. He finds the door to the basement and walks down the stairs. This is my chance. I pick up the phone and dial 911. The police came and took him away.
There’s nothing wrong with this story. It’s clearly tells what happened. However, this kind of story-telling might not go over very well if the speaker were applying for a job as a reporter for the local paper.
In the story the past tense was used with the words, rang, answered, saw, was, asked, and came. The present tense words were pushes, walks, asks, keeps finds, walks, is pick, and dial.
The bottom line to this book is this: there is nothing wrong with telling a story in whatever tense seems best to you. Mix past and present tenses if this comes naturally to you. Your listeners will not complain. They may not even realize that you mixed tenses. However, you need to know how to tell the story entirely in the past tense for those rare occasions when you need to show that you have the ability to use correct grammar.