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Past Tense Verbs

January 13, 2017

Older people seem to have a knack for past tense verbs. I found that out first hand by listing to myself the last few years. I have been through the whole verb evolution thing and here are a few of my observations.

As children, we tend to speak more often in the future tense. We say:

I would like to go to school.
I would like to be old enough to buy gas for my own car.
I will go to college.
I want to be a teacher.
I will write a novel someday.

In mid-life, most of us use the present tense more. We say:

I am going to school.
I am buying gas for my car.
I am going to college.
I am a teacher.
I am writing a novel.

When we get to semi-geezerdom, we often start our sentences squarely in the past tense:

I went to school.
I bought gas for my car.
I went to college.
I was a teacher.
I wrote a novel.

Then there’s the back in the day prepositional phrase. All of us older folks use this chestnut. We sometimes overuse it.

A long time ago, I went to school.
Decades ago, I was buying gas for my car.
When I was a kid, I wanted to go to college.
Years ago, I wanted to be a teacher.
A long time ago, I wrote a novel.

Lastly, there is the back in the day prepositional phrase combined with quantitative comparisons to the present. I generally reserve this category for super-geezers.

When I went to school, I had to walk uphill five miles.
When I was a kid, gas was only 19 cents a gallon.
In the old days, kids actually went to college for four years.
A half a century ago, we still had lots of good teachers.
Fifty years ago, people could actually write a novel.

The sure sign of a full life lived can be found in this sentence:

Years and years ago, I wanted to write a novel so I said I’m writing a novel and then I wrote that novel at a time in our country when people could still write. (Yes, I suppose I’ve joined the ranks of super-geezerdom.)

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4 Comments
  1. pinkchickpsychic permalink

    I love how you write.

    Like

  2. Man, you ARE old! (But not as old as me.) Why I remember when . . . 🙂 Nice piece, Allen.

    Like

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