Sunday, 8 December 2013

Narrative Tenses

Narrative tenses are the grammatical structures used to refer to the past time. They are used to tell stories and describe past events and states.

Fifty years ago, schools used to be single sex.

Past simple, past continuous, past perfect simple and past perfect continuous  are all narrative tenses. Also, the expressions "used to" and "would" plus infinitive can be used to talk about the past.

These past tenses are used to express:
-A finished action or state that happened at a definite time in the past (Past simple)
     I saw an interesting film last night.
-An action in progress happening at a specific time in the past (Past continuous)
     We were having dinner when someone knocked on the door
-An action or state that happened before a past action or state (Past perfect simple)
     When we arrived at the theatre, the play had already started
-An action in progress that was happening before another past action (past perfect continuous)
     When she arrived he had been waiting for over an hour!

-Things we did in the past but do not do any more ("used to"+infinitive-for actions and states- and "would"+infinitive-only for actions)
     My father used to smoke a lot, but he gave up some years ago. 
     When I was a child, we used to live in the countryside and we would walk to school every day.

If you are interested in looking into Narrative Tenses more closely, you can check out the following PowerPoint presentation:

Narrative tenses new english file advanced, Past simple, Past Continuos, Past Perfect Simple, Past Perfect Continuous, Action/ State verbs, Used to / Would, from Lola Domínguez

Now, you could try the following excersises to practice Narrative Tenses:

Narrative Tenses 1
Narrative Tenses 2
Narrative Tenses 3: Used to / Would

For a detailed explanation about "used to", "would", and "be used to" you can follow this link