Eyeing the perfect past

In this post we’re looking closely at, or eyeing, past perfect tense. In a previous post I showed that past perfect tense is probably not very useful in IELTS writing and speaking. It belongs more to the narrative genre, and in IELTS we don’t write stories!

When I explain this to students and they look at me as though they don’t really believe me, and so we go ahead and look at a story to see how past perfect works.

The following video contains a story, and I have devised a listening activity to help you to focus on the use of past perfect in the story. If you’re not sure how past perfect works, please see my earlier post for an explanation and examples before continuing with the listening.

  1. Watch / Listen to the story and write down (on a piece of paper) all of the verbs that relate to events in the story, one after the other, as you hear them. Pause the video occasionally to give yourself time to write. Do that now. The next instruction follows the video.
  1. After you have watched the video / listened to the story, look at your list of verbs (events) and number the events as they actually happened in time (chronologically): First thing that happened ‘1’, second event ‘2’, third event ‘3’, etc.
  2. Next, compare the sequence of events that you have written down with your numbered chronological sequence. You will find that not all of the events in the video are mentioned chronologically beginning with the earliest and ending with the final event.
  3. Identify the events in the video that are mentioned outside of the chronological sequence and write these events in the comments box below this post. What tense is used to introduce these ‘out of sequence’ events in the video?

As usual, I look forward to reading your comments!

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