A REVISION OF PAST TIME (PART ONE)

mars 15, 2010 à 9:54 | Publié dans english (all), intermediate english | Laisser un commentaire

*Image created at wordle.net

There are many different ways to refer to the past in English. This lesson will look at the PAST SIMPLE, PRESENT PERFECT and PAST PERFECT.

Read through the following paragraph, which provides some information on the history of Montreal. Try to identify the uses of past time.

Archaeological evidence demonstrates that various nomadic First Nations native people occupied the island of Montreal for at least 2,000 years before the arrival of Europeans. By the year 1000 CE, they had started to cultivate maize. Within a few hundred years, they had built fortified villages. The St. Lawrence Iroquoians established the village of Hochelaga at the foot of Mount Royal centuries before the French arrived. Archeologists have found evidence of their habitation there and at other locations in the valley since at least the 1300s. The French explorer Jacques Cartier visited Hochelaga on October 2, 1535, when he claimed the St. Lawrence Valley for France.

*Text adapted from Wikipedia.

Here is the paragraph again with the uses of past time in bold.

 

Archaeological evidence shows that various nomadic First Nations native people occupied the island of Montreal for at least 2,000 years before the Europeans arrived. By the year 1000 CE, they had started to cultivate maize. Within a few hundred years, they had built fortified villages. The St. Lawrence Iroquoians established the village of Hochelaga at the foot of Mount Royal centuries before the French arrived. Archeologists have found evidence of their habitation there and at other locations in the valley since at least the 1300s. The French explorer Jacques Cartier visited Hochelaga on October 2, 1535, when he claimed the St. Lawrence Valley for France.

Read through the following grammar and formation for the three tenses that are discussed in this lesson.

The three different tenses used here are:

 

  1. PAST SIMPLE – “…before the Europeans arrived
  2. PRESENT PERFECT – “Archaologists have found evidence…”
  3. PAST PERFECT – “…they had started to cultivate maize.”

PAST SIMPLE

 

VERB + “ed” (or irregular PAST PARTICIPLE)

We use the past simple (i.) to talk about a completed action at a specific time in the past, (ii.) for a series of actions and (iii.) to describe a duration of time which started and ended in the past.

The cat was run-over.

Did you move to Paris when you were five years old?

James arrived at work, took off his coat, sat down and wrote his report. At the end of the day he went home.

They got up at 9am, ate breakfast and then played in the garden.

I didn’t think about it.

I lived in Cuba for one year.

 

NOTE: (i.) when forming the PAST SIMPLE in the negative, we use DID (NOT) + VERB, (ii.) when forming the PAST SIMPLE as a question, we use DID (NOT) + VERB + ?

e.g.            I didn’t go to work yesterday            AND                    Did you go to work yesterday?

 

PRESENT PERFECT

 

HAVE/HAS + PAST PARTICIPLE

 

We use the present perfect (i.) to talk about  an action that happened at an unspecified time in the past, (ii.) to talk about past events whose results are still present (iii.) to talk about general life experiences and (iv.) to talk about recent past events or states.

I have lived in Montreal for six years.

There has been a large rise in levels of pollution over the past three years.

The famous French singer Jean Ferrat has died.

Have you ever eaten lobster before?

I have always been a light sleeper.

She hasn’t spoken all day.

 

NOTE: we cannot use the present perfect with specific time expressions (yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was younger, when I lived in Australia, at the moment, that day, one day etc.). Instead, we use the present perfect with non-specific expressions (ever, never, once, several times, many times, so far, before, already, yet etc.).

 

PAST PERFECT

 

HAD + PAST PARTICIPLE

 

We use the past perfect (i.) to describe something that happened in the past before something else in the past (especially if it is non-specific).

The weather had been bad for two weeks, and then it improved

Had she stopped crying by the time you left the cinema?

The bus had left two minutes before he got to the bus stop

I had had lunch by the time he arrived

NOTE: whilst we can replace the PAST PERFECT with the PAST SIMPLE in many cases, we cannot when the sentence refers to a non-specific time.

e.g.               I had never seen a polar bear        NOT               I never saw a polar bear

A FURTHER NOTE ON THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PAST SIMPLE AND PRESENT PERFECT

The PAST SIMPLE and PRESENT PERFECT are often confused. We must remember that the PAST SIMPLE refers to actions in the past which happened at a specific and definite time, whereas the PRESENT PERFECT is used when we talk either about the past up to and including the present moment, or a non-specific time in the past.

e.g. I have lived in Montreal for six years

I lived in Montreal for six years

 

The difference between these two sentences is that the first implies that the person is still living in Montreal, whereas the second implies that the person no longer lives in Montreal. We can use adverbials that describe a period up to the present with the PRESENT PERFECT, and adverbials describing a specific time in the past with the PAST SIMPLE.

e.g. I have lived in Montreal { so far / since / up to now

I lived in Montreal {last summer / three years ago / in 1984

 

Because the PRESENT PERFECT often refers to non-specific time in the past, we use it to ask questions that refer to an unknown past time.

e.g. Have you ever eaten lobster?

Yes, I ate it for the first time last year.

 

The question is asked in the PRESENT PERFECT because the person does not know when specifically in the past this happened, whereas the answer is provided in the PAST SIMPLE because the speaker knows the definite time in the past when s/he ate lobster.

We also use the PRESENT PERFECT to describe something, with just, that has happened very recently in the past.

e.g. I have just heard that Bob Dylan is playing in Montreal next month

She`s just heard that she got the job!

 

Now look at the following news bulletin, written in the PAST SIMPLE. Make the report more interesting, natural and clear by converting the relevant verbs into both the PRESENT PERFECT and the PAST PERFECT. Imagine that these are headline announcements made by television broadcast journalists.

 

There were further riots in Greece over the government’s “austerity measures”.

Police and protesters clashed again today in Athens over spending cuts aimed at tackling the country’s debt. Earlier in the day groups of protesters threw rocks and other missiles at the police, and in response the police fired tear gas into the crowd. Protesters marched against the planned cuts throughout the country. More than 3 million Greek public and private sector workers gathered in outrage at salary freezes and tax increases when violence erupted.

*Text adapted from guardian.co.uk

There are five verbs in the past that could be changed. The rest of the verbs need to be in the PAST SIMPLE. Fill in the gaps with the right tenses. Answers are at the end of the article.

 

There __________ further riots in Greece over the government’s “austerity measures”.

Police and protesters __________ again today in Athens over spending cuts aimed at tackling the country’s debt. Earlier in the day groups of protesters __________ rocks and other missiles at the police, and in response the police __________ tear gas into the crowd. Protesters __________ against the planned cuts throughout the country. More than 3 million Greek public and private sector workers __________ in outrage at salary freezes and tax increases when violence __________ .

Now read through the following sentences and choose the right tense for the gap.

  1. I __________ (think – never) about it until he mentioned it to me.
  2. We __________ (eat) lobster for dinner yesterday.
  3. I __________ (play) squash before.
  4. Prices __________ (decrease) by 5% in the last year.
  5. I have no idea what’s going on, I __________ (arrive – only just).
  6. Until I moved to Quebec, I __________ (eat – not) maple syrup.
  7. I’m so sorry, I __________ (get – not) a clue what you __________ (say) to me just then.
  8. Robert’s English has improved enormously since he __________ (be) in Montréal.
  9. Jane __________ (speak) to her several times but she didn’t remember her name.
  10. I __________ (go) to Cuba several times before I was married.

Adamique offre des cours d’anglais et de français à Montréal. Visitez notre site web pour plus d’informations !

Adamique offers French and English classes in Montreal. Visit our website for more information!

Adamique在蒙特利尔提供法语和英语培训课程。更多信息请访问我们的网站.

http://www.adamique.com/

Answers:

 

There have been further riots in Greece over the government’s “austerity measures”.

 

Police and protesters have clashed again today in Athens over spending cuts aimed at tackling the country’s debt. Earlier in the day groups of protesters had thrown rocks and other missiles at the police, and in response the police fired tear gas into the crowd. Protesters have marched against the planned cuts throughout the country. More than 3 million Greek public and private sector workers had gathered in outrage at salary freezes and tax increases when violence erupted.

 

1.        I hadn’t thought about it until he mentioned it to me.

2.       We ate lobster for dinner yesterday.

3.       I have never played squash before.

4.       Prices have decreased by 5% in the last year.

5.        I have no idea what’s going on, I’ve only just arrived.

6.       Until I moved to Quebec, I hadn’t eaten maple syrup.

7.        I’m so sorry, I haven’t got a clue what you said to me just then.

8.       Robert’s English has improved enormously since he has been in Montréal.

9.       Jane had spoken to her several times but she didn’t remember her name.

10.     I went to Cuba several times before I was married.

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