CAE :: Lesson 30

LOS CURSOS DE INGLES GRATIS PREFERIDOS POR LOS HISPANOHABLANTES

 

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Use of English

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a.

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The past

 

 

 

Let's talk about the past...

NARRATIVE TENSES

When we describe specific incidents in the past, we use narrative tenses, i.e. the past simple, past continuous, and past perfect simple or continuous. Now check these basic rules:

a) Use the past simple to talk about the main actions in a story (We went to bed... I woke up... I screamed).

b) Use the past continuous to set the scene (We were sleeping in my parents bedroom) and to describe actions in progress in the past (Somebody was standing at the end of my bed).

c) Use the past perfect and the past perfect continuous to talk about the earlier past, i.e. things which happened before the main events {My father had gone away... I had been reading a story).

And now check this text below:

This happened when I was about five years old. My father had gone away on business for a few days and my brother and I were sleeping in my parents' bedroom. Before we went to bed that night, I had been reading a very scary story about a wicked witch. In the middle of the night I woke up with a start and saw that a figure in a dark coat was standing at the end of my bed. I screamed at the top of my voice.

USED TOWOULD

We often use used to + infinitive as an alternative to the past simple to talk about things that we did repeatedly in the past. We can also use used to + infinitive to talk about situations or states which have changed, e.g. I used to have much longer hair when I was younger.

Every summer my family rented an old house in the South of France. My sister and I used to walk to the harbour every morning and watch the fishermen cleaning their nets.

We also use would + infinitive as an alternative to used to to talk about things that we did repeatedly in the past. However, we don't use would with stative verbs, i.e. to talk about situations or states which have changed NOT  I would have much longer hair when I was younger .

Every night before we went to bed my mother would tell us a story, but she would never read them from a book – she would always make them up herself.

We can also use always + past continuous for things that happened repeatedly, especially when they were irritating habits.

When I was a teenager, my friends were always teasing me because of my red hair.

NOTE: When we describe past habits or repeated past actions we tend, for stylistic reasons, to use a mixture of used to, would, or the past simple (with adverbs of frequency). Used to and would make it clear that you are talking about something that happened regularly and both of them often convey a sense of nostalgia.

On the next page you will be able to practise this grammar.

 

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