2018-08-18

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Verb tenses in short, simple stories for kids

It is common for stories to tell events that happened some time ago, which is why they are mostly written using past tense verbs.

kid playing soccer
Simple short stories that tell things that happened in the past are usually written using two types of past tense: Simple Past and Past Progressive (or Past Continuous). Simple past is a form of the verb that shows the action or situation happened in the past. On the other hand, past progressive shows the action or situation was in progress in the past.

Let's see an example:

Johnny loved playing soccer. And he played very well with his neighborhood friends. He made perfect passes, dribbled with great skill and kicked goals with a precision that caused tremors to the most tenacious goalkeepers.

One day, Johnny was playing with his friends when a coach of a major soccer team saw him and offered him the opportunity to play on his team. After that, Johnny was feeling very enthusiastic. But when he finally played with the team, he found that the other guys on the team were playing much better than him, so it was not so fun after all.

In the resolution of the story, the Simple Present verb tense may show up to tell how the situation of the main characters is nowadays:

Johnny decided that he liked better to play with his neighborhood friends, where he was always the best player. Nowadays, every time a coach comes to offer to be part of his team, he says: "No, thanks, I am good here playing with my friends".

Could you tell, in the previous example, which are simple past tense verbs, which are past progressive and which are simple present? The answers, here.




Although the use of verb tenses explained in the previous example is quite common in simple, short stories, the real beauty of stories is that they are not limited by strict rules. Therefore, once you understand what each verb tense is good for, you can exercise the freedom to use them in such a way that they contribute to give color, shape and depth to the stories, which would otherwise be as boring to read as the news pieces of any newspaper.

Also, not all stories are written using past verb tenses. Stories can also tell things that are happening now, in which case they could use present tense verbs, like Simple Present, Present Progressive, Present Perfect and Present Perfect Progressive.

The Simple Present is a form of the verb that shows the action or situation happens in the present.

The Present Progressive (or Present Continuous) is a form of the verb that shows the action or situation is in progress in the present.

The Present Perfect is a form of the verb that shows the action or situation was complete before the present.

The Present Perfect Progressive (or Present Perfect Continuous) is a form of the verb that shows the action or situation started in the past and continued until the present.

Take a look at these examples:

A) Linda is visiting her grandparents. At this moment, she is sitting on her grandfather's knee. She is listening to a story.

B) Megan and Felicia have been spending time together for many years. Lately, Felicia has not been feeling well, so Megan has been bringing Felicia her mail every morning.

C) Peter is a cowboy. He lives on a farm and he has a horse named Roger. He rides Roger every day.

D) Ruthie's grandchildren have lived in London for 3 years while Ruthie has stayed in Florida. She has not seen her grandchildren in over a year, but she has talked to them on the phone and through e-mails many times.

Could you tell which verb tense is used in each example? The answers, here.

Would you like to learn how verb tenses are used in stories written in spanish? Click here.

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