Talking about time in stories
I hope you have had a good week and have completely recovered from your traumatic queuing experience!
I have enjoyed reading and re-reading your queuing story; the frustration you felt is clear and yet you write so humorously that I can’t help laughing! I like the way you set out the narrative as a detailed diary, using the times as headings: 10.00 am, 11.00 am, 12.00 am etc.
I have one small comment about deictic expressions* in the reported speech in this sentence:
Some people told me that they were here from 7.00 am till this moment!!!!!!!!
I wrote about deictic expressions in a post on representing speech on Monday, 27 April 2009, so I won’t repeat the information here. If you have time, perhaps you could review that post and have a go at changing the italicised words? If anyone else would also like to have a go, go ahead! I will give my suggestions for changes in my next post.
My second (and final) comment is about narrative tenses. In this sentence:
4.00 pm: After another hour of waiting that left me and rest of the people [absolutely] furious, the other clerk arrived,
instead of that left (past simple) me, you COULD say that had left (past perfect) me, to emphasise that you were already furious when the second clerk arrived. Sometimes, if we want to talk about an event or action that happened earlier than the main events in the past, we use a past perfect verb form.
Actually, your sentence is perfectly clear, so I’m not sure that it makes much difference whether you use the past simple or the past perfect here! Anyway, if you are interested in knowing more about the difference between the past simple and the past perfect for narrating events or actions in the past, there is some useful information here:
Ask about English: past simple or past perfect?
OK, I’m going to finish this post and then go to bed; tomorrow I’m attending a conference in Leeds (about 40 minutes by train from York) on teaching English, together with some of my students. I’ll try and record some video (without humming while I’m filming….) to post here.
Hope you have a good weekend!
* deictic expressions = ways of pointing to time (for example, tenses and words like yesterday and ago), place (here, there, this shop, that university) and persons (she, they) at the moment of speaking.
Comments on the comments:
Hyoshil (from the UK) – you asked about how to use the appropriate words or sentences in special situations, such as a giving a presentations or a making a speech, or when you disagree with someone. I have to say Hyoshil that your English already seems excellent to me, in the special situation of the BBC LE blog! As each situation is probably different from the next, perhaps careful listening to the way people are using English in that situation is a good start. If you get a chance, you may like to write down clusters of words that you frequently hear in a specific situation, and memorise them for later use in similar situations. You could organise your notebook based on the situations in which you are interested in learning more about. So, for example, you could have a section on presentations, a section on speeches, a section on disagreeing and so on. Gradually you will build up a bank of useful clusters of word that you have noticed, memorised and are ready to use.!
Toni (from Barcelona, Spain) – you asked about the difference between cluster and collocation….. According to my grammar book, collocations are regularly co-occurring nouns, adjectives, prepositions, verbs and adverbs, such as:
give a presentation
make a speech
blonde (not yellow) hair
a yellow (not blonde) car
a palomino (not blonde or yellow) horse
Clusters are also regularly co-occurring words, but can include grammatical words, for example:
do you know what I mean? [informal]
at the end of the day [informal: meaning after all or in the end]
Marianna (from Slovakia) – I loved reading about your trip to see your friend in Osrblie. Please tell us more of your stories!
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