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" Alan hadn't seen his uncle for two years. His uncle was pat seventy now (is it convenient to use "now" in the past tense?), and Alan noticed that age had left its traces on his face more than anytime before. He carried on the talking precisely as he had planned, but noticed that his words had no effect on his uncle any longer as if he weren't hearing him"
Does this passage have verb consistency?
Many thanks indeed!
In the last sentence, I'd switch to one past continuous, and re-position one adverb:
", but noticed that his words were no longer having any effect on his uncle etc."
It's okay to use some present perfect in a generally simple past narrative. Did you want us to try switching something to present perfect?
RosamondWhen narrating a story in the past simple, can we use the present perfect or stick only to the past perfect for tense consistencyIt is also possible to tell a story about the past using what is called the "historical present". Keep in mind that the present perfect typically has a very definite connection with the present. If we change your excerpt from simple past to the present, then the present perfect works well in exactly the same places where the past perfect was used in the original version:
" Alan hasn't seen his uncle for two years. His uncle is past seventy now, and Alan notices that age has left its traces on his face more than anytime before. He carries on the talking precisely as he has planned, but notices that his words have no effect on his uncle any longer as if he weren't hearing him"
Rosamond His uncle was pat seventy now (is it convenient to use "now" in the past tense?)There is no problem using "now" this way with the simple past tense. In this case, "now" refers to the time the story was taking place.
I Thank you for your helpful inputs, but I am still having a problem. The truth is, it is a story I have translated. I began with the simple present which seemed just fine, but then I felt I had to switch to the simple past. Then I got confused with the past perfect and the present perfect! I am afraid it may not be convenient to post the story here, but you need to be put in the mood. I Thank you once again.
(A Tale from
Rady is a faithful husband to Hania. He loves her and does his best to provide a decent life for both her and their children. However, Hania always ridicules him, and says that she has never been happy for a single day since they got married. She often keeps on urging Rady to uphold his rights his uncle has usurped after his father's death.
Rady's uncle, Master Abdul-Hakk, has lived alone his whole life and never got married. He was such a ruthless man that he swallowed up his brother's share in the land after his death. Rady was still a little child at the time. His uncle let him grow up in a half-demolished house made of bricks, and work for well-off farmers.
On Rady's part, he saw himself small in front of that giant who swept away anyone in his way, and found no shame in ruining the lives of the poor. On the contrary, he relished in that. He has surrounded himself with a bunch of servants prepared to all sorts of task, beginning with the simplest: beating and insulting, up to murdering. How could a quiet and peaceful young man like Rady, who even gave up his right, possibly stand up to such a tyrant (in the sense of unjust)? Rady wanted to remain in that village as he knows of no other place in this world. He has never gone out of the village except for the market of the neighbouring village. He didn't want to try to demand his right, lest he should loose his uncle's favour even though it was mingled with humiliation. The least punishment he would receive then would be expulsion from the village, an easy thing for his uncle and his gang.
Hania had a hard time persuading Rady to speak to his uncle about his rights. He didn't have to confront his uncle and accuse him of forgery. Instead, he can cleverly ask him to terminate the lease on a part of the land, so that he may cultivate it and benefit from the yields. She convinced her husband that she can manage a decent dwelling in the nearby village of her uncles, were they to be turned out of the village. At length, Rady agreed reluctantly. But he asked Hania to let him choose the right time to bring the matter up with his uncle. Rady set a time limit of one moth only to have this tough mission done. Days flew by while Rady was waiting for an opportunity to meet that bully and request for his right.
There was his uncle one day, sitting by the canal at the outskirts of the village, surrounded by a number of his followers. The uncle's face indeed told about his nature: wide, scary eyes; a big nose; and a thick, untrimmed mustache. Rady haven't seen his uncle for two years. His uncle was past seventy, and Rady could notice the traces of age on his face more than at anytime before, despite that apparent sternness.
Rady started the talking exactly as he had planned with his wife. He had chosen his words so carefully and thoroughly that he learned them by heart, for fear that he might mistake a word for another and enrage his uncle. However, he noticed that his uncle was getting angrier, his eyes more bulging, and his face muscles tenser.
Rady carried on the talking very precisely, though he was getting shakier and more anxious. Strangely enough, he felt his words no longer had an effect on his uncle as if he were not hearing him. When Rady had finished, his uncle didn't say a word. Rady became worried as this was a bad sign. He asked his uncle about his opinion, but got no answer. One of the Master's men approached him, and poked him gently in the right arm, "Master… what's wrong, Master?" To their astonishment, Master Abul-Hakk fell to the ground on his left side, motionless.
Rady returned home that night completely grieved. He finally spoke up, but it was too late. He could not tell his wife what had happened. Despite her pressing after seeing his tears and noticing his grief, Rady went to bed without saying a word about it.
Early in the morning, there was a knocking at their door. Feeling apprehensive, Hania hurried to answer it. She found four of Master Abdul-Hakk's servants before her. She thought they came to carry out his orders of turning them out.
"What's the matter?" she asked in a trembling voice.
"Forgive us, Ma'am," their chief said in a submissive tone. "We are here to get the orders from Master Rady concerning the funeral!"
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