Friday, 30 January 2015

Using Past Indefinite through Dialogues

This page shows different ways of using the Past Indefinite (or Simple Past) through dialogues from English literature.

The Past Indefinite is used to express a single action completed in the past. It is performed within a period of time which is already over. An indication of the past time is given or implied in the situation. The speaker is mostly interested in the circumstances of the action, not the action itself.

Illustrative Examples:

1. The children in the junior form have great difficulty in writing compositions, so the teacher is trying to teach them how to do it; they are writing together on the blackboard a composite account of the holiday.

The teacher: John, tell me something that you did.
John: Went to the seaside, miss.
The teacher: How?
John: Bus.
The teacher: By yourself?
John: No. Lot of us kids went. Us went with the Mothers’ Union, miss.
The teacher: Right. Now put all that into sentences that I can write on the blackboard. Well, come along. You can start by saying, “During the holidays I went to the seaside.” What shall we put next?
Anne: I went in a bus.
The teacher: Now what?
The teacher: I went with the Mother’s Union.
Another pupil: I went with some others.
Another pupil: I went on a Saturday.
Another pupil: I went with my sister.
(Miss Read. Village School)