ਸੈਸ਼ਨ 1

Dan's here to tell us a story, and to teach us the tenses of storytelling: narrative tenses. Find out how to use them, and how he got his scar

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ਕਿਰਿਆ/ਕੰਮ 1

English Class

Dan's scar: a painful story using narrative tenses

Dan got a scar when he was a child. It hurt a lot at the time but now he uses it to help him teach you about narrative tenses - the grammar we use to tell stories.

Enjoy the tale of a naughty little boy and revise tenses - all in 90 seconds!

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Hi Guys! Dan for BBC Learning English here. This time we're going to be taking about narrative tenses, which are story tenses. And we're going to try and do the whole thing in 90 seconds. Are you ready? Here we go.

So, can you see this scar? I got this scar when I was about five or six years old. You see, I used to love jumping on the bed.

I say used to, because used to is used for a past habit, which is something that we don't do any more in the present. Although, I still quite like jumping on the bed. Don't tell anybody, OK?

So, one day after I had arrived home from school, I went upstairs to jump on the bed.

Now, I say had arrived, because had arrived is the past perfect. And this means that the action is complete before the past simple verb. I could say, I went upstairs after I had arrived home. It doesn't make any difference to the meaning: the past perfect always comes first.

Now, my mum was quite tired because she had been working all day, so she didn’t see me go upstairs.

Had been working is the past perfect continuous. It's exactly the same as the past perfect, except we use it for longer actions: she had been working all day.

Anyway, while I was jumping on the bed, my mum came in and told me to get off.

While I was jumping: was jumping is the past continuous. We use this   or an action which is in progress at a past time. We often combine it with the past simple to give the interrupted past. While I was jumping, my mother walked in and told me to get off the bed.

So, I decided to get off the bed. But instead of walking off like a sensible person, I jumped off and I went completely out of control and I bashed my head on my mother's bedside table, giving me this scar. I was quite lucky because I could have taken out both of my eyes, and I have quite lovely eyes. BEEP. Oh, excuse me. I have quite lovely eyes. So, the moral of the story is, always listen to your mother!

Now I use the past simple to describe the main events of the story, because the past simple is the most important tense, and it's at the point that we want to focus on. Did you get it? Alright guys. Dan for BBC Learning English, signing off. 

 

Summary

You need to use a variety of tenses in order to tell a story in an interesting and varied way. Here are some tips:

Used to

Use used to to describe a past habit we don't do any more. Used to is always followed by an infinitive

I used to smoke. (but I gave up five years ago)

Don't forget that when you make a negative sentence or a question, you don't use a d at the end of used.

I didn't use to play football

Did you use to study French at school?


Past Perfect

Use past perfect to describe something that happened before an action described using past simple.

By the time she arrived home, I had gone to bed. (I went to bed, then she arrived home)

Past perfect is formed using had + past participle.


Past Perfect Continuous

Use past perfect continuous to describe an action which started in the past and continued up to another point in the past.

I had been cooking all day for the dinner party when my guests phoned to cancel. (I started cooking and continued to cook until my guests phoned)

Past perfect continuous is formed using had + been + verb/ing.

Past Continuous

Use past continuous to describe an action which began in the past and was interrupted by another, later action in the past.

I was watching a film when the doorbell rang. (I started watching a film, I continued watching a film, the doorbell rang)

Past continuous is formed with was/were + verb/ing.

Narrative tense revision

4 Questions

Test your knowledge with this quiz

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Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! ਤੁਹਾਡੇ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਹਾਸਲ ਕੀਤੇ ਗਏ ਅੰਕ:
x / y

End of session

Well done! Do you have any scars or personal stories that can help you remember narrative tenses? The more personal, the easier the story is to remember!

Next

In Session 2 we join News Review for some more news language.

ਵਿਆਕਰਨ ਸੈਸ਼ਨ

  • Used to

    Describes a past habit we don't do any more. 

    I used to smoke. 

    Past Perfect

    Describes something that happened before an action described using past simple.

    By the time she arrived home, I had gone to bed. (

    had + past participle

    Past Perfect Continuous

    Describes an action which started in the past and continued up to another point in the past.

    I had been cooking all day for the dinner party when my guests phoned to cancel. 

    had + been + verb/ing

    Past Continuous

    Describes an action which began in the past and was interrupted by another, later action in the past.

    I was watching a film when the doorbell rang

    was/were + verb/ing