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  1. Newbie
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    • Join Date: Dec 2007
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    #1

    Tenses

    Hi I want to ask about tenses.
    I know all the rules but when it comes to fill in space with all tenses it's not working with me.
    for example :
    what is the diffierence between :
    I had spent the whole morning looking for my book
    Why cann't I say :
    I spent the whole morning looking for my book
    And so one...
    tell me how can train on them

    thanks


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    #2

    Re: Tenses

    You can say/use both...but it depends on the rest of what you are saying, the context.
    Look at this:
    I had spent the whole morning looking for my book, when I suddenly realized I'd lent it to John.

    All of this happened in the past. BUT - the 'whole morning searching' happened even further back in time than 'when I realized', 'the searching' happened, and after that, ' I realized' .
    "I realized" is past tense, and we indicate that 'the searching' occurred before this, even further back in time, by using "had spent".

    I spent the whole morning looking for my book
    Here, you are simply telling somebody about something that happened in the past - it could have been this morning or last week or whenever in the past. There is no mention of anything happening before or after it.
    Last edited by David L.; 23-Dec-2007 at 23:21.

  2. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
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    #3

    Re: Tenses

    In addition to what David said, it can help to remember that when telling stories, the different tenses have certain roles:

    The past perfect ("had spent") helps to set the scene by explaining what happened before.

    The past progressive ("was spending") also helps to set the scene by explaining what was happening at the time the story begins.

    The past simple ("spent") tells the actual story.

    Take, for example, this scene:

    Somebody had smashed the window. Birds were singing outside. Jane came into the room and gasped in horror.

    Now imagine you are in the theatre watching a play. The curtains open, you hear the sound of birds singing, and you see broken glass on the floor and a broken window. This is the scene, and this is what is described by the first two sentences. But the story starts with Jane walking in and gasping in horror: that is the first action in the play.

    So, past perfect and past progressive paint a picture; past simple tells the story.

    David's example is the same. In his story, the curtain rises, and you see books all over the floor, and an exhausted David in the process of searching through them. That's the scene, the picture. Then the action begins: David straightens up, slaps his forehead and says, "But of course -- I lent it to John!"

  3. Newbie
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    #4

    Re: Tenses

    thanks a lot rewboss and david , you both are great .
    rewboss you are a great teacher.

    thanks again

  4. Newbie
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    #5

    Re: Tenses

    Rewboss

    Is it possible for you to explain to me all the other tenses in the same way you just did.

    thanks

  5. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
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    #6

    Re: Tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by ibrobar View Post
    Is it possible for you to explain to me all the other tenses in the same way you just did.
    That would take too long. And also it would be too much information. Practice just a few tenses at a time until you have mastered them before you start trying to learn more.

    If you have a specific question, feel free to post it here.

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