I've just completed an exercise from a book called "A Proficiency Course In English" (Bywater) concerning tenses, and I have some questions about it. Could you give me your explanations? (since the key doesn't say anything apart from giving the answer only)
1. I wonder who is making / was making that dreadful row. - are both versions possible? the second one seems a bit odd, especially out of context... to me...
2. After he had eaten an enormous dinner, he fell asleep and was dreaming peacefully when a lump of coal fell on to the heart and woke him up. - Could you please tell me, why there is past perfect used? Is it necessary here? Could I use simple past?
3. I had been living / lived in that flat for several years before I decided / had decided to look round for something more central. - Wchich version is correct? Could I simply use the simple past tense here? We have words like "before" don't we? So is present perfect necessary (especially in the second part) ?
4. I shall / will have finished the book in about twenty minutes' time; can;t you wait until then? - The key gives "shall" and I don't know whether "will" and "shall" differ in any way... do they? Besides, I wanna know whether I could simply say "I will finish the book in about 20 minutes..." and if not, why???
5. The Incas were beaten in battle by the Spanish conquistadores and, after being held / were held / they had been held in captivity for some time, their Emperor was murdered. - The key says "had been held" and I have no idea why... couldn't I simply say "were held" ? or "being held" ? why not?
6. Have you seen my glasses? - Can I say "Did you see my glasses" ? why/why not?
7. When I arrived on the field yesterday, preparations were / had been in the full swing for the Fair which opens today... - again, sp vs p. perf. - The key says "were" and I would say "had been" ... is it wrong to use the past perfect here? what would it take to use it? adding a word like "already" maybe?
8. I met your sister yesterday and I think / thought she was looking very well / she looks very well. - Can I use simple present? If I mean that she looks fine, like... kind of... generally! And does "thought" imply that I thought that in the past and I don't think that anymore? or does it mean more like "generally" ? Could I use "I think..." here? why not?
9. Tolstoy tried / had been trying / had tried to educate his serfs but after he had been working / working / having been working at it for 20 years he got discouraged and gave it up. - Here, I'm completely confused... The key says "tried" and "had been working" ... dunno why... and why the rest is wrong...
All the best to you guys! I'm counting on you ;) Thanks in advance!
PS. Is that true that if a Brit guy comes to the USA and uses a/the word "fortnight" he may not be understood?
If you come across any mistakes, even the smallest ones... please... do correct me.
Last edited by forum_mail; 24-Apr-2007 at 18:29.
I hope the following explanations will help you:
1. I wonder who is making .... / I wondered who was making..
2.After he had eaten an enormous dinner, he fell asleep and was dreaming peacefully when a lump of coal fell onto the heart [?]and woke him up.
- first he ate dinner , then he fell asleep - past perfect is used to show anteriority [of action]
3. I had been living in that flat for several years before I decided to look round for something more central.
-continuous action in the past [ past perfect continuous] - the action in the first sentence continued up to a certain point in the past [...until I decided...]
-you cannot use present perfect in your sentence.
I have been living since long/for 10 years here [ I still live] but I think I`ll move out.-present perfect continuous : the action began in the past but it still continues!
4.Yes, you can say:" I will finish the book in about twenty minutes' time; can`t you wait until then?"
I was taught -in elementary school- that "shall" is used with the first person [singular and plural], but we usually use "will" instead of "shall". Let me put it some other way :
e.g. Mother:"Will you help me with the dishes?"
Daughter :" Yes, I will" [ it`s my wish. I am glad to help you].
" Yes, I shall" [ I am not so glad but I think I should do it ].
future perfect :I will have finished the book by the time you come and take it.-action which will be completed at a given future time.
5.The Incas were beaten in battle by the Spanish conquistadores and, after they had been held[ the rule of anteriority] in captivity for some time, their Emperor was murdered.
6. Have you seen my glasses? -recent action
Present perfect simple usage :
a] recently completed actions:
We`ve just finished lunch
b] past actions completed in an unspecified time :
I have seen that film but I don`t mind watching it again
c] asking if an action has been completed:
Have you finished your dinner yet?
d] future actions in time clauses:
You can go out as soon as you have had your lunch.
e]with time expressions:
I have phoned her six times this morning.
7.When I arrived on the field yesterday, preparations were in the full swing for the Fair which opens today.- simultaneous action. You can`t use past perfect tense because "the preparations had not been already made before my arrival"- we can`t talk about a prior action . There are two simultaneous actions : when I arrived , preparations were being made.
8.I met your sister yesterday and I thought she was looking very well. - sequence of tenses[ she still looks very well]
I met ... and I think she looks very well -also correct
9.Tolstoy tried to educate himself but after he had been working at it for 20 years he got discouraged and gave it up.
tried-completed action in the PAST
had been working -continuous PAST action
Let me show you the sentences :
"...after he had been working at it for 20 years he got discouraged..." means that he continued to work on the novel for 20 years in the past until he finally got discouraged and gave up writing.-both actions took place in the past but the first one is continuous and prior to [before]the other one.
All the best
Last edited by Teia; 24-Apr-2007 at 21:15.