Hav you ever read a story that wasn’t told in the past tense? Maybe a few here and there were in the present tense, but it’s safe to assume most short stories or novels you’ve read have been told in the past tense. I was thinking about this today while reading (specifically I think a shift from past simple to past perfect simple to talk about something that happened earlier in the story triggered it).

It’s something that’s true across many languages, and we’re so used to it we don’t really notice. But if you think about it, most stories would work just as well in the present tense. And some writers do use the present tense, for certain sections of their stories at least, to provide a sense of immediacy. So why not use that for the whole story then, and for every story? Continue reading

Talking about the Past

Do we talk about the past more in English, compared to other languages? This is something I was thinking about yesterday, when talking to someone in French about something that happened over the summer. I’ve always found using the main past tense (passé composé) in French a little cumbersome. Talking about the present is quite straightforward once you know the verbs you want to use, and structurally is quite similar to the present simple in English.

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English Lessons for Experts: Past Simple & Continuous

I’ve decided to continue looking at some of the basic aspects of the English language, as I began before. From now on it’ll be a little different, as I won’t go into much detail about what a lesson might look like, mainly because the principles remain largely the same. If you’re a native speaker, you might find this enlightening, and if not, it might be a useful refresher of things you’ve already learned. Before looking at some of the main past tenses, let’s have a quick recap of the present simple and continuous, which I looked at before, but not in much detail:

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He Had Had Good Grammar, Had he?

What does it really mean to be grammatically correct? Is it important? People often tell you that you shouldn’t get bogged down in grammar when learning a language, and should aim for real communication. And I agree about that whole communication thing, but you still need good fundamental grammar to do so. Grammar and natural use of English don’t have to be enemies. Continue reading