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Mixed Tenses Exercises

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ESL Forums | English Vocabulary, Grammar and Idioms
different vs. differential | Why did you use commas instead of apostrophes?
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Mixed Tenses Exercises #1 (permalink) Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:35 am   Mixed Tenses Exercises

Hi, I'm a Pole trying to explore the intricacies English :) This is my first post here so, welcome everybody. And here are my problems. I've done these tests and I even got the key, but there is no freaking way I can understand some answers. Wondering now if it's really so difficult or I'm just so stupid :)

Ok, let's go:

Problem 1:

I've got doubts concerning number 7 (love). According to the key there are 2 possible answers "love/loved". My question is: why is Present Perfect impossible here? To my Polish ear, it just sounds perfect :)

Problem 2:

Number 20. Can we put "was shutting" here? Or maybe the action of "shutting the doors" is too short for Past Continuous? And what about 21? Definitely Simple Past or is there a slight possibility of Past Continuous? (i.e. were just collapsing=falling on a seat)

Problem 3:
At the dentist's

I was on time for my dentist's appointment, but the dentist was still busy with another patient, so I (1)..............(sit) in the waiting room and (2)................ (read) some of the old magazines lying there. While I (3)................(wonder) whether to leave and come back another day, I (4).....................(notice) a magazine article about teeth. It (5)............ (begin): 'How long is it since you last (6)............ (go) to the dentist? (7).................... (you go) regularly every six months? Or you (8).................(put off) your visit for the last six months?' Next to the article was a cartoon of a man in a dentist's chair. The dentist (9)..............(say): 'I'm afraid this (10) ................ (hurt).' I (11) ....................... (suddenly realise) that my tooth (12) ........... (stop) aching. But just as I (13) .............. (open) the door to leave, the dentist's door (14).............. (open). 'next please,' he (15) ................... (call), as the previous patienty (16) ............. (push) past me. 'Actually I not here tyo see you, I (17) ............. (wait) for my friend,' I (18) .......... (shout), leaving as rapidly as I could. (19) ................ (you ever do) this kind of thing? Surely I can't be the only person who (20)......... (hate) the dentist!

What about number (12). Stopped ot had stopped? According to my key, "had stopped" is the only option here. But for me it's quite ambiguous.

Problem 4
I'd like to practice more, do you know any other tests for advanced learners? I'm especially interested in those with all kinds of tenses mixed up but in a single text, article, story or whatever as long as it's one, separate text. I've searched the Net and found some but it's not enough. Could you recommend something? :)

Excuse my longish question, appreciate any help.
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Mixed Tenses Exercises #2 (permalink) Thu Nov 12, 2009 15:19 pm   Mixed Tenses Exercises

To 1: the love by his fans is probably a general fact, something that is not happening at a specific moment in time; that is why I'd pick the present. You could say that it is not a general truth, but something that was restricted to when he lived; in that case the past simple is right, not the present perfect, because it doesn't continue up until the present. I agree with you that this reasoning is not at all conclusive, but the usage of tenses can never be truly captured in rules. You probably considered their love something that started in the past and continues until the present; but I believe the tendency to regard such a love as a general fact is stronger.
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Mixed Tenses Exercises #3 (permalink) Thu Nov 12, 2009 20:13 pm   Mixed Tenses Exercises

To 3: had stopped is definitely better. The action of stopping took place before the realization (p.p.). You cannot realize that it stops at the same time that it stops.
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Mixed Tenses Exercises #4 (permalink) Thu Nov 12, 2009 20:23 pm   Mixed Tenses Exercises

Hello Chudziol,

As regards the second exercise, using the past continuous for 20 ("was shutting") sounds perfect to me in that sentence. In combination with the word "as", it's a perfect fit. In other words, the shutting of the doors was in progress and that activity was interrupted when we jumped on the coach. As/while the doors were closing, we jumped aboard.

Number 21 is a bit different. My first instinct would be to use the past perfect (had just collapsed) in order to indicate that immediately after we sat down the driver announced something. If you wanted to create the sense that the announcement began literally WHILE you were in the middle of changing from a standing position to a sitting position, then I suppose the past continuous (were just collapsing) might also be possible. However, the addition of "with a sigh of relief" suggests to me that the reference here is to a completed action. What I would normally expect is that such a sigh of relief would usually happen after you had already sat down. (I interpret the relief to be related to the fact that they had managed to get on the coach before it left.)

Thus, the order of events would basically be this:
1. sat down
2. sighed in relief
3. driver announced bad news

What I would NOT use in 21 is the past simple (collapsed). Using the past simple would change the order of events. In other words, it would mean that first the announcement was made, then they collapsed in their seats in relief. It would not make any sense to say they felt relieved after hearing the bad news that was announced by the driver.

Compare the order of events in these "when" sentences:

- We sat down for dinner when he arrived. = FIRST he arrived THEN we sat down for dinner.

- We had just sat down for dinner when he arrived. = FIRST we sat down for dinner THEN he arrived.

“Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.” ~ Charlie Chaplin
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