Verb Tense Exercise (212)

Choose the correct form of the verb to fill the blank in each sentence. The exercise is based on a paragraph from Kidnapped by R.L. Stevenson. Think of the individual sentences in the context of a unified paragraph.

  • I _____ the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751.

  • That morning I _____ the key out of the door of my father’s house and set off on my way.

  • The sun began to shine upon the summit of the hills as I _____ down the road.

  • By the time I _____ as far as the manse, the blackbirds were whistling in the garden lilacs.

  • The mist that hung around the valley in the time of the dawn ______ to arise and die away.

Answers and Explanations

1. I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751.

There’s only one clause; the past continuous tense requires a subordinate clause that indicates another action: "I was beginning my story when the telephone rang."

2. That morning I took the key out of the door of my father’s house and set off on my way.

Both actions are happening at the same time: "took and set off." The past perfect tense requires an additional action: "I had just taken the key out of the lock when the minister stopped by."

3. The sun began to shine upon the summit of the hills as I went down the road.

Both actions, "began" and "went" occur at the same time.

4. By the time I had come as far as the manse, the blackbirds were whistling in the garden lilacs.

The past perfect indicates a completed action before another action in the past.

5. The mist that hung around the valley in the time of the dawn was beginning to arise and die away.

The previous sentences are all in the past, so this verb should also be in the past.

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