3.1 narrative tenses

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término English definición English
Use the past simple
When I arrived, my friends left.
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for completed actions in the past which tell the main events in a story.
Use the past perfect simple
(had + past participle)
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to link the past to a point further back in the past.
The past perfect simple is used
My friends had left by the time I arrived.
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to talk about completed actions/events that happened before another action/event/ the story began.
When I arrived at the restaurant, my friends had left.
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Here we say the events (left, arrived) in a different order from which they occurred.
The past perfect simple is used with "thinking" verbs and also with because
I suddenly remembered I hadn't phoned Sue. I felt terrible because I'd promised to phone her.
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such as realise, remember, forget, think, find out, discover.
Use the past continuous
(was/were + verb + -ing)
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to describe an action in progress at a specific time or point in the story.
The past continuous is used
He was sleeping when the plane landed.
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when another shorter action or event happened (usually in the past simple).
I was walking along the street when I noticed the man.
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Use the past continuous to set the scene of the story or a section of the story.
Use the past perfect continuous
(had + been + verb + -ing)
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to talk about longer actions or situations which started before the story began and continued to the beginning of a story.
Use the past perfect continuous before
She had been living there for a week before they met.
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a point or an action in the story and continued up to that action.
The length of the action is often mentioned with for or since.
Use the past perfect continuous before a point where there is evidence of a recent activity.
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David looked very tired because he'd been working all night.

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