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Narrative Tenses

Prepared by Samantha Arias

What are narrative tenses?

Narrative tenses are the tenses we use in a language to tell a story. They are all of the forms in past that a person can possibly use.

Simple Past
One time past actions

Verb + ed Or Verb in past form

I played soccer. I went shopping.

I didnt play soccer. I didnt go shopping.

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

Past Continuous
Use Form 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? An action that Was/ were happens in + verb + ing the middle of another action 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. Key Words:

Present Perfect Simple

An action that happens in the past but connects to the present An action that started in the past but continued up to the present Key Words:

Have / has + verb in the past participle

I have played soccer. I have been shopping.

I havent played soccer. I havent been shopping.

Have you played soccer? Have you been shopping?

Already yet Since for

just still recently


so far

up to now

Present Perfect Continuous

Use Form Affirmative
I have been playing soccer. I have been going shopping.

I havent been playing soccer. I havent been going shopping.

Have you been playing soccer? Have you been giong shopping?

An action that Have / has happens in + been + the past and verb + ing puts emphasis on the duration of the action An action that started in the past and may have continued to the presentKey Words: All day

the whole day



how long

Past Perfect Simple

Use Form Affirmative
I had played soccer. I had been shopping.

I hadnt played soccer. I hadnt been shopping.

Had you played soccer? Had you been shopping?

An action that Had + verb happens in in the past the past participle before another past action The past of the present perfect

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

Past Perfect Continuous

Use Form 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? How long Had+ been + something verb + ing was happening before another past action started

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

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 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

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.