This is based on a true story that happened many, many years ago in Scotland. One day Mr Clark was walking home with a smile on his face. He was carrying something very valuable in his hand: tickets for a long, long journey.

This is the beginning of a true story https://www.test-english.com/grammar-points/b1/past-simple-past-continuous-past-perfect/3/

What I don't understand is the use of progressive tenses in this little paragraph. For me both actions will be completed, nothing arrived when he was walking and carrying and it is not said that both actions (carrying and walking ) are happening now, only one day . In fact I understand that both actions are the background of the story and that they are happening now so progressive tense is needed but that seems strange because one day does not mean now for me

1 Answer 1


By convention English narrative almost always uses the past tense. While the story is about something that has completed, the story itself is being told in the moment, and so we think of it as ongoing action.

Mary was making breakfast when the spaceship landed in her backyard. "That's odd," she thought. "You would expect aliens from another planet to be more considerate of one's azaleas."

Actions that would normally take the simple present are "backshifted" to the simple past. Continuous (or concurrent) actions that would take the present continuous are shifted to the past continuous.

Dialog, however, is not usually backshifted, and there are various other conventions for things like direct narration, which often uses the present tense as a way to speak directly to the reader.

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