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Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #107877: Surprise...Surprise ! ... 2/2
Surprise...Surprise ! ... 2/2
Congressman Quinn and Laverty have most certainly had a serious conflict in the past. Many years after their latest encounter, Laverty entered Quinn's surreptitiously. They discussed briefly about a letter of denunciation which might exist (or not!). Eventually, Laverty shot Quinn and went home light heartedly, absolutely certain to get away with it.
Remember, the tense used to tell or narrate a story is the simple past.
ex: Laverty entered Quinn's home and shot him.
* As usual, if two (simultaneous) actions of the past happened at the same time, then:
- the important and long action) is in the preterite in -ing and the short action which interrupts the long one, is in the simple past.
ex: Laverty was still lying in bed when his door bell rang.
* If an action happened before the past action expressed in the simple past, it must be in the past perfect simple (or in the past perfect in -ing if we want to insist on the duration of the action)
had + verb in the past participle or had + been + verb + ing
ex: Laverty had shot Quinn calmly and after cleaning up, he left for his home.
* If you must use a future, remember that it doesn't get on well with the past and that the sequence of tenses then forces you to use a conditional.
ex: Quinn believed he would be safe because Laverty would never write an incriminating letter...
BEWARE ! For the first time in this kind of test, I'm going to make you use (and even over-use) a form that you don't really master in spite of all the excellent tests and lessons on this site... Let's observe the sentence:
ex: Because of a conflict that happened long ago, Quinn was cold-bloodedly assassinated by Laverty.
The second part of the sentence is in the passive form:
ex: If anything happens to Quinn a letter will be given to Laverty and to the police.
Here the subject is 'letter' (an object) and the verb is a future (will be given.)
ex: Quinn shouldn't have been unprotected when Laverty was at large.
(In this sentence, the subject is still 'Quinn', but the verb in the passive has a very complex construction. There is a modal auxiliary 'should' = in the past, 'shouldn't have been + past participle' which is added to the auxiliary of the passive 'be'.
He was unprotected = the action was endured by Quinn, it 'shouldn't have been', and it was a fatal mistake.
ex: Laverty had been sure he couldn't be punished.
(The second part of the sentence is in the passive form): 'he couldn't be punished': 'he' = subject of the modal verbal form 'couldn't be' = 'it was impossible for him to be punished' ('BE' is the auxiliary of the passive form : to be punished.)
This text was adapted from a short story by Frederic Brown: Nightmares and Geezenstacks. 1961
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