Narrative Writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past or Present?

You must learn to tell the difference.

The basic rule is simple:

  • If the main verbs are in past tense, it is a past-tense narrative.
  • If the main verbs are in present tense, it is a present-tense narrative.

 

The tricky part, for some students, is to figure out which verbs are the main verbs (as opposed to secondary verbs).

Here are some tips:

1) Ignore Dialogue

John said, "I eat an apple every day."

 

2) Look for the words "said" or "says".

3) Ignore infinitive verbs.

Gwen wanted to wash her hair.

 

4) For negative verbs, look at the "helping word" that precedes the verb.

Past Tense Present Tense
  • I didn't enjoy the meal.
  • I didn't go swimming.
  • I couldn't lift the box.
  • I don't enjoy the meal.
  • I don't go swimming.
  • I can't lift the box.

 

More Examples

The main verbs are in bold.

Past Tense Present Tense

John went to the house. He rang the doorbell.

Sally opened the door. She asked, "What are you doing here?"

John said, "I came to apologize."

John goes to the house. He rings the doorbell.

Sally opens the door. She asks, "What are you doing here?"

John says, "I came to apologize."

Lilly hated to run the mile. She liked to read books.

She pretended to be sick, so that her gym teacher would write her a pass to the library.

Her gym teacher said, "You're sick again?" Clearly, he didn't believe her.

Lilly hates to run the mile. She likes to read books.

She pretends to be sick, so that her gym teacher will write her a pass to the library.

Her gym teacher says, "You're sick again?" Clearly, he doesn't believe her.

 

Instructions for the Quiz

Determine if the scene is written in past tense or present tense.