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Past Tense Verbs

August 26, 2021

Older people seem to have a knack for past tense verbs. I found that out first hand by listening 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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17 Comments
  1. Thank you for this beautiful and thought-provoking post

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Lol. You did a superb job of identifying the hidden in plain view obvious. Love it!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So true and pretty hilarious also Allen. Great post. โค๏ธ๐Ÿค—

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Back in the day, when we were still human? I hope thatโ€™s not our future reality!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Back in the day, you wrote some great blog posts.๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜ This was fun – and so true!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Reblogged this on e-Quips and commented:
    Your tenses may give you self-identified life stage away. Geezerette, hear I come.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. HA HA!

    And… oh dear…

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Good one!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Back in the days, before computers, I could type 90 wpm on a manual typewriter and 102 on an electric one – had to do it perfectly, and not smudge the carbon copies in between (used to save me from typing it twice, thrice…) I yearned to be a writer – I wrote, in my notebooks. I still write, I’m a writer on many fronts now (often in comments sections!! LOL) Someday, I will learn more, know more, I wish to be more free to travel and learn more – to stay in a locale and really soak up the entire personality of the landscape and the folks who inhabit it, to share with others – and maybe, after I do that? Someday when I’m semi-retired and haven’t grown so old I’ve lost my mind? I might write a book or three – – on the computer, sans white out and carbon paper – – – LOL

    Liked by 2 people

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