11. Narrative tenses.

Main practice: narrative tenses
Revision:            past continuous - present perfect continuous

based on -  the basic idea something is built on, i.e.
  • The film is based on a true story.
  • Based on what you have told me about the business I don't think you should buy it.
  • His diet is based on practices found in Indian cooking.

by the way  -  to introduce a new topic into a conversation, i.e.
  •  ...so Jake had a wonderful birthday, lovely presents and a great party. By the way, what're
    you doing Saturday, would you like to go and see a movie?

middle-aged  -  a person aged approximaely between 45 and 65.

next door  -  neighbours, living in the house next to yours

(to) offer  -  to say you are ready to do something for someone, i.e.
  • She offered to help me study for my exam.
  • He offered to do the shopping for his grandparents each week. 

(to) run out of  -  Phrasal verb:  to use something up so there is none left, i.e.
  • We've run out of coffee = we did have coffee but we've used it all.
  • We must end the lesson, we've run out of time = no more time.
  • The house is only half built, they ran out of money = they did not have enough money to continue building the house. 
Bill's trying to learn Chinese. His wife, Sam, has a helpful idea.

Choose the best alternative for the verbs.

Sam:  How's the Chinese going?

Bill:   Not well. (I - study) all morning but the pronunciation is very

Sam:  Well, yesterday, when (I - shop) in town I met Wang Chen.

Bill:   Who's Wang Chen?

Sam:  Don't you remember? She was the student who lived with Mr and Mrs Jones next door
            while she was (study) at the language school.

Bill:   Oh yes, she became friends with Tim.

Sam:  That's right. She's working here now, for the Duchess Hotel on the sea front. She
            said (she) give you lessons. I got her number for you.

Bill:   Thanks, Sam. That's a good idea. I'll call her.

Sam:  By the way, Bill…

Bill:    Yes?

Sam:   Why (you - decide)to learn Chinese?

Bill:    Well, I like the idea of learning a language with an alphabet based on pictures. And I
             wanted to do something difficult, you know, to keep my middle-aged brain working.


A spooky story.

Put the verbs in the correct tense and, if who want to, complete the story.

Remember, we usually 'contract' in speech: not I have but I've, not we are but we're, etc.

Three friends. John, Pat, and Chris, were on holiday in Ireland when their car broke down. They

(walk) to a garage when they saw a mountain. John and Pat said they

(want) to climb the mountain but Chris said: ‘You go, (I - run out of) of

energy.” So he lay down to sleep. When he (wake) up the sun (shine) and

it was nearly midday. He (walk) up the mountain to find his friends when he

(meet) an old woman. She had a white bird on her shoulder and (offer) to take

him to his friends. However, when they got to the top of the mountain she vanished. Chris saw 

a beautiful lake: very blue, as smooth as glass. While he (look) at the lake a small

boat appeared with an old man in it. ‘Get in,' he said. ‘I'll take you to your friends.' Chris got in

and they (sail)out into the lake. There was an old castle on an island in the middle of

the lake. The boat stopped at the island but when Chris turned to thank the boatman the

boat was empty! Although he was very tired Chris decided to climb the steep hill to the castle.  

While he (walk) the white bird appeared and flew above. He (knock) on

the huge castle door and it opened slowly. A woman stood there. She looked a little like the old

woman but she was young and beautiful. ‘Here, drink this,' she said, offering him a cup. ‘No,'

Chris (reply), ‘I must find my friends.' ‘Ah, your friends are inside my castle, they are

waiting for you. Drink, and come in…'