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narrative tenses

Narrative tenses

See also:
time expressions - past
past events - talking about
verb forms

Narrative tenses are the tenses that we use to talk about past events and to tell stories. The most common of these is the past simple. Three other tenses, Read more


The following ESL resources are available for Narrative tenses:

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Narrative tenses practice - sentence completion and pairwork
Eight personalized sentences with multiple choice endings. Students complete and then make questions to find their partner's answers. Concept check statements are included to check students' understanding of past tenses.


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Error slips - verb forms
Error correction slips + multiple choice questions for past and present perfect tenses, would and used to

worksheet preview


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Narrative tenses - Simple story - A lucky escape
Story ordering and gap fill exercises for simple story narrative tenses. Updated 2016


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Plane anecdote with narrative tenses
Story ordering. 10 - 20 students There are 15 strips, which can be reduced to 10 by removing those marked *, or increased to 20 by splitting longer sentences. Students get one segment each. They then sit or stand in circle and have to arrange themselves in the correct order of the story
worksheet preview


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Locked out! - Cut up story
Cut into 16 strips. The 3 strips marked * can be removed if necessary. Ss get one strip each. Sit or stand in circle. Arrange themselves in correct order of the story. Follow-up tenses gap-fill with answer sheet.


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Urban myth - madman on the loose
Rather gruesome urban myth about a madman with a knife. Not for the faint-hearted. Cut-up story ordering task + gap fill.


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Past perfect anecdote
Cut up story (office impostor) and analysis


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Jenny's trip to Taiwan
Now includes analysis of tenses


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Mrs Jones's cat
Goes with pic story formerly in Headway Intermediate. (Past simple and past continuous only.)


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Boracay story
Revision of narrative tenses gap fill


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Bank robbery - alibis
(1) Gapped bank robbery story. Students find missing information by asking partners. (2) Question formation: detective interviews suspect. This prepares students for alibis game.


Narrative tenses quiz: a spooky experience (277)
Ten mulitple-choice questions that relate a short spooky experience.


Narrative tenses news story (202)
Complete the news story by putting the verbs in the correct tense.


Narrative tenses - anecdote (203)
Complete the anecdote about an incident on a plane by putting the verbs in the correct tense.


Narrative tenses - James Bond (254)
Adaptation of a short passage from Diamonds are Forever


Pakistan - China by bicycle (347)
15 gap text: past simple, past continuous, past perfect, past perfect continuous.


Past simple and continuous - anecdote - the Donkey Dog (372)
Short anecdote about a frightening experience gapped for past continuous and past simple plus 'enormous' and 'the biggest'





General English course books (adults)

Global Intermediate Coursebook book cover 

Global Intermediate Coursebook 

Lindsay Clandfield   Rebecca Robb Benne   
Unit 2 Lives and Legends  Page 19   Past simple & past continuous
Unit 2 Lives and Legends  Page 21   Past perfect & past simple
Inside Out Student's Book Advanced book cover 

Inside Out Student's Book Advanced 

Ceri Jones   Tania Bastow   
Unit 2 Taste  Page 19   Past tenses
Three short exercise based on the preceding reading text
Inside Out Student's Book Upper Intermediate book cover 

Inside Out Student's Book Upper Intermediate 

Vaughan Jones   Susan Kay   
Unit 14 Review 2  Page 133 
New Cutting Edge Upper Intermediate students' book book cover 

New Cutting Edge Upper Intermediate students' book 

Peter Moore   Sarah Cunningham   
Module 3 Adventures and mishap  Pages 34 - 35  Verb forms in the narrative
Follow-up exercise and analysis of language in previous listening. Three short gapped stories with audio to check answers
New Inside Out Student's Book Upper Intermediate book cover 

New Inside Out Student's Book Upper Intermediate 

Susan Kay   Vaughan Jones   
Unit 4 Challenge  Page 39   Grammar: narrative tenses
Follow-up grammar exercises

Photocopiable resource books

Grammar Activities 2 - Upper Intermediate book cover 

Grammar Activities 2 - Upper Intermediate 

Will Forsyth   Sue Lavender   
48 - 51 Past tenses  Pages 48 - 51  Detective story
Complete a gapped story with pictures. Past simple, past perfect, past continuous.
Intermediate Communication Games book cover 

Intermediate Communication Games 

Jill Hadfield   
9 - Sci-fi dominoes / Fairytale dominoes  Page 9 
Story-making using picture card prompts.
22 - It wasn't me, Officer  Page 22 
Role play with cards. Ss have to identify various suspects for thefts.
Play Games with English Book 2 (1981-8) book cover 

Play Games with English Book 2 (1981-8) 

Colin Granger   John Plumb   
Memory 7 Accident page 45  Page 45 
Accident scene. Ss have to remember the exact scene and complete sentences (multiple choice) 'A man was just crossing / had just crossed / was just going to cross the road' etc.

General English adult course resource packs

Reward Intermediate Resource Pack book cover 

Reward Intermediate Resource Pack 

Susan Kay   
6 As different as chalk and cheese  Page 6 
Story writing activity. Ss complete sentences from prompts and pass to the S on the left.
Reward Upper-intermediate Resource Pack book cover 

Reward Upper-intermediate Resource Pack 

Susan Kay   
6a It made my day  Page 6 
Whole class / large group. Writing an anecdote. 'Write, fold and pass' activity to construct a funny anecdote.
8a Something strange happend on the way to...  Page 8 
Ss write a supernatural story using question prompts. Exchange and correct.

ESL lesson plans

How Donald Trump Got Rich: A Tale of Three Trumps

US Election ESL worksheet 1 Donald Trump ESL worksheet 2 Donald Trump worksheet 3 Donald Trump ESL worksheet 4 Donald Trump ESL worksheet 5 Donald Trump ESL worksheet 6
B1 / B2 Complete lesson Skills: split reading; discussion; role play Vocabulary: business and economics

Download A Tale of Three Trumps for B1/B2 (PDF)
C1 Complete lesson Skills: split reading; discussion; Grammar: participle clauses

Download A Tale of Three Trumps for C1 (PDF)

US Election Special 2016

US Election ESL worksheet 1 US Election ESL worksheet 2 US Election ESL worksheet 3 US Election ESL worksheet 4
B2/C1 Complete lesson Vocabulary: politics, elections; skills: discussing elections and issues.

Download Politics and the US Election (PDF)

Wear high heels or go home: gender discrimination at work

Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 1 Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 2 Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 3
B2/C1 Complete lesson Vocabulary work clothes; skills: gender discrimination; grammar: reported speech.

Download Workplace gender discrimination (PDF)

English grammar notes

Comparison with as...as

Comprehensive grammar reference notes, illustrated.
Grammar notes on comparison with as..as 1 Grammar notes on comparison with as..as 2 Grammar notes on comparison with as..as 3
Download English grammar notes: comparison with as...as (PDF)