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Creepy Clown

Understanding Grammar: Scary Stories (Narrative Tenses)

Understanding Grammar: Scary Stories (Narrative Tenses)

In this week's Premier Skills English podcast, as it's nearly Halloween, Jack and Rich both have a spooky story to tell. The language focus is on grammar and narrative tenses but they also have lots of words and phrases connected to fear for you to learn. Your task is to re-tell Jack's scary story using narrative tenses. Don't forget to listen until the end of the podcast because we have a special frightening football phrase for you, too.

Transcript

If the listening was a bit difficult, you can listen again and read the transcript at the same time.
Read and listen at the same time.

Understanding grammar Scary Stories: Narrative Tenses

Jack: Boo!

Rich: Wooah! What are you doing?

Jack: Ha ha! I made you jump! It’s only me. What are you scared of?

Rich: Why are you hiding behind a door? You … 

Jack: It’s Halloween this week. Ghosts, witches, zombies all that kind of stuff. I love it.

Rich: I don’t really believe in all that nonsense, but it can be fun, I suppose.

Jack: Yes, it is, and it’s not really that scary.

Rich: Not like Arsenal’s defending, ha ha … that is absolutely terrifying!

Jack: Very funny.

Welcome - Halloween

Rich: Hello my name’s Rich

Jack: and I’m Jack

Rich: and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast

Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.

Rich: We recommend that you listen to this podcast on the Premier Skills English website because that is where we have the transcript, language examples, activities, quizzes and a discussion page to help you understand everything we talk about.

Jack: However, if you’re listening on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you can leave answers to our questions in the review section. We do read all the reviews and would love to hear from you.

Rich: In this week’s podcast, we are going to tell you a couple of scary stories and talk about narrative tenses. I have a story for you that might be a little bit scary so I hope that you are not alone when listening to this podcast!

Jack: That sounds a bit creepy Rich.

Rich: It’s not that scary just a little frightening :)

Jack: I also have a story to tell and your task this week is to retell my story in the comments section using some narrative tenses.  

Rich: Make sure you listen to the end of the podcast because we’ve got a special Halloween football phrase for you to guess as well.

Last week’s Football Phrase

Rich: But, before we look at all that, let’s look at last week’s football phrase. If you didn’t hear it last week we’ll give you one more chance to guess and give you the correct answer at the end of the show when we give you a new football phrase.

Jack: Last week’s football phrase was one that I love and it’s probably my favourite bit of skill on the football pitch.

Rich: And quite a few of our listeners got the right answer. A big well done to Liubomyr from Ukraine, Wsanta from Argentina, Lakerwang from China, Marwa_Ababneh from Jordan, Milos from Serbia, Elghoul from Algeria,  Idzingirai from Zimbabwe, Ahmed Abdallah from Egypt and Reza_Tash from Iran. Let’s hear the phrase one more time.

Jack: The word is ****** and it describes the action when a player puts the ball through another player’s legs. It looks great and makes the other player look a bit silly.

Rich: We’ll give you the answer at the end of the show and we’ll have a new football phrase for you to guess. 

Introduction to story

Jack: Do you like ghost stories, Rich?
 
Rich: Not usually but once many years ago I was travelling on an overnight train through Transylvania in Romania and I was reading …

Jack: Dracula!

Rich: Yes! I know it’s a bit of a cliche … a bit stereotypical but I bought Bram Stoker’s Dracula for the journey and read it on the train. I remember it being a full moon, too. It definitely added a bit of atmosphere. I was really scared.

Jack: Dracula’s a really good book. Vampires are cool. There have been lots of films about them in the last few years. When I was younger I watched a few horror movies. Some of them were absolutely petrifying and I couldn’t sleep for days. But these days I’m more afraid of what happens in real life than in horror movies.

Rich: That’s the thing, Jack. Sometimes real life and horror stories or ghost stories are the same thing. Let me tell you something that happened to a friend a few years ago.

Jack: A story?

Rich: It’s not a story. Well, it is, it’s a true story.

Jack: OK, but let’s give our listeners a task while they are listening to your ‘true’ story. While you are listening, here’s a question for you to answer:

Rich: Where did the clown go?

Story 1

Rich: Here’s a story that a friend, Kimberly, told me a few years ago. I don’t know if I should believe her but she swears that it’s true.

Jack: When someone swears something is true I never believe them.

Rich: Well, Kimberley says this is 100% true and I’ve known her for a long time. She was babysitting for the Beckham family in Kensington - a rich part of London - it was before I knew her.

Jack: The Beckham family? David Beckham? Is that when he was playing for Chelsea or Arsenal?

Rich: I don’t know. It’s just what Kimberley told me.

Jack: So, what did she say about the house?

Rich: The house was very big and had lots of antiques, awards and music and football memorabilia. It was full of old paintings and things. Kimberly had only ever looked after the two children in the daytime and it was the first time she was going to babysit in the evening. 

Jack: The best scary stories always happen at night time.

Rich: The parents told her that the children needed to go to bed at seven-thirty and afterwards she should go and watch TV in the basement and not go looking in different rooms and parts of the house. They said they’d be home at about eleven.

Jack: Come on! The basement! This is not real.

Rich: She swears it’s true. So, the kids eventually went to sleep about eight and she went downstairs to watch TV for a bit. She didn’t like the basement - it was full of weird stuff and that’s where David kept his collection of football caps. They were everywhere. Some were pinned to the wall, some were on mannequins and one was on the head of a life-size clown statue. That statue really freaked her out.

Jack: Scary clowns. Please.

Rich: While she was watching TV, she suddenly got scared. She thought that the creepy clown was watching her so she threw a sheet over it so she didn’t have to look at it. 

Jack: She just found a sheet...

Rich: I don’t know. Anyway, she still couldn’t stop thinking about the clown because the sheet didn’t cover its super-sized clown shoes so she knew it was there. She decided to ring David.

Jack: Why? To ask why there was a super scary clown statue that was going to turn into a psycho?

Rich: Something like that. She called David to ask if she could watch TV in another room because the giant clown was freaking her out. 

Jack: And he didn’t answer, right?

Rich: No, he did answer. He sounded really worried. He told her the kids had been having nightmares about clowns, saying a clown was in the house at night time. Then he said that he didn’t own a clown statue and that she had to get the kids out of the house.

Jack: And then the clown killed them all. Haha!

Rich: Nope. She looked around and the clown wasn’t there. Just a sheet on the floor. She ran up the stairs woke up the kids and got out of the house.

Jack: Mmm. That’s one of the worst stories I’ve ever heard.

Rich: I don’t think it’s a story. Maybe we should try to get an interview with David Beckham so he can corroborate!

Language Focus

Jack: In the last section Rich told you a ghost story. Not a very good ghost story.

Rich: It wasn’t a story. It was true.

Jack: Mmm, I’m not so sure. Anyway, we gave you a question to think about. It was: Where did the clown go? What’s the answer, Rich?

Rich: Not sure. The clown may have run away. The clown might have just been in Kimberley’s head or maybe a ghost!

Jack: OK, we’ll leave that there. What we want to look at now is some of the language you used in the story. Specifically, we’re going to look at narrative tenses.

Rich: Firstly, let’s check we know what narrative tenses are.

Jack: Narrative tenses are basically tenses in the past that we use to tell stories. The three main narrative tenses we use to tell a story are the past simple, the past continuous and the past perfect.

Rich: You may have noticed some of these tenses in the ghost story.

Jack: We’re going to focus on the past continuous and past perfect and how and when we use them. Let’s start with the past continuous.

Rich: In the story, I said my friend Kimberley was babysitting for the Beckham family. This is the past continuous - was babysitting.

Jack: We create the past continuous with was or were plus a verb in the -ing form.

Rich: In this first example, we are using the past continuous to describe an event that happened over a period of time in the past.

Jack: Kimberley was looking after the children or was babysitting between six ‘o’clock and eleven ‘o’clock. She was babysitting over a period of time. 

Rich: It’s very common to use the past continuous at the beginning of a story to give background to a story and explain what is happening. 

Jack: You might hear something like: Once upon a time, three little pigs were playing in their garden or A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away the rebel alliance was fighting the evil galactic empire.

Rich: The past continuous is also used to say what was happening when a specific action happened.

Jack: In the story, Rich told us that Kimberley was watching TV when she suddenly got scared.

Rich: In this example, we use the past continuous to describe what was happening - Kimberly was watching TV - and the past simple to describe the action - she got scared.

Jack: We use the past continuous to describe what was happening before the action happened and the past simple to describe the action.

Rich: Some common examples are:

Jack: We were playing football when it started to rain.

Rich: The fans were cheering and singing until the other team scored.

Jack: I was eating dinner when the doorbell rang.

Rich: Let’s look at the past perfect now.

Jack: We can use the past perfect to talk about something that happened or didn’t happen before another event in the past. 

Rich: So, we are talking about two things that happened in the past but one event was before the other event. Listen to this example from the story:

Jack: Kimberley had only ever looked after the children in the daytime.

Rich: In this example, we are saying that Kimberley had looked after the children in the daytime before but now she was looking after them at night for the first time.

Jack: We use the past perfect to describe the time that is furthest in the past. To create the past perfect we use had plus the third form of the verb - in this example it’s had looked after. 

Rich: Let’s look at a football example. I went to the football stadium at 1 o'clock yesterday. Jack went to my house at 2 'o clock yesterday.

Jack: Both of these sentences are in the past simple but we can put them together using the past perfect.

Rich: Jack went to my house at two but I had already gone to the football stadium.

Jack: Here are some more examples:

Rich: I sat down and fell over because someone had moved my chair.

Jack: He had never scored in the Premier League before.

Rich: I felt sick because I had eaten too much.

Jack: OK, so that’s the past continuous and the past perfect but let’s have a quick look at the past perfect continuous. Here’s an example from the story:

Rich: The kids had been having nightmares about clowns.

Jack: We use the past perfect continuous for something that happened often in the past or over a period of time and continued up to another time in the past. 

Rich: To create the past perfect continuous we use had plus been plus a verb with ing.

Jack: Let’s look at another football example. He had been playing really well before he got injured.

Rich: We use the past perfect continuous had been playing to describe the period of time before another time in the past, in this case when the player got injured.

Jack: Here are some more examples:

Rich: I realised I’d been doing too much so I took some time off.

Jack: I noticed that he’d been crying so asked what was wrong.

Rich: He’d been playing semi-professionally before he was spotted by a Premier League club.

Jack: There are more examples and activities to help you with narrative tenses on the Premier Skills English website.

Task

Rich: Your task this week is to listen to another spooky story. This time Jack is telling the story.

Jack: We will give you a more specific task after the story. First, we want you to listen and answer this question.

Rich: Who is Jack texting?

Story 2

Jack: Ah - Rich. Hmm probably running late …

Jack: Let’s see what he says. Hi Jack, sorry, can you meet me at the old church?

Jack: The old church? Erm. texting sounds yes... I ... can... 

Jack: Why? 

Jack: I wonder what this is about.

Jack: What’s he saying now? It’s a surprise. Come quickly.

Jack:... OK - just finishing my coffee.

Jack: No come now - it’s important

Jack: OK Rich …

Jack: Are you here yet?

Jack: Are you here yet?? I’ve just left the cafe... how could I be there already.

Jack:... I’m 2 minutes away.

Rich: Jack ... Jack ...

Jack: Keep coming - don’t turn around.

Jack: What?

Rich: Jack ... Jack ...

Jack: Hurry up - don’t turn around.

Rich: Jack ... 

Jack: Ah Rich - there you are.

Rich: Where are you going?

Jack: To the old church...

Rich: Why are you going to the old church?

Jack: To meet you. You’ve been sending me messages.

Rich: No ... I lost my phone last night ....

Task 2

Rich: That was spooky. Can you answer the question we gave you? Who was Jack texting in the story?

Jack: Well, I thought it was you!

Rich: But, it wasn’t. Good job I found you. Who knows who it was?

Jack: It gives me the creeps.

Rich: Are you walking home alone tonight? Ha haha!

Jack:Oh be quiet. Right, the task we have for you is to retell my story using narrative tenses in the comments section.

Rich: Imagine you are telling a friend what happened to Jack. Here are some questions to help you:

Jack: Where was I? What was I doing when I read the messages?

Rich: How do you know it wasn’t me sending the messages? What had happened to my phone?  What could have happened to Jack at the church?

Jack: Let’s hear your ideas in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website.

Football Phrase

Rich: Have you got a football phrase for us this week? 

Jack: This week’s football phrase has a Halloween feel to it. The phrase is ****** ******. It is a challenge on the pitch that is horrible to watch that often results in an injury to another player. The first part of the phrase is also used to describe a type of film which is scary. 

Rich: Not something that is nice to see on the pitch.

Jack: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below. If you get it right, we’ll announce your name on next week’s show. 

Rich: Before we forget, if you’re still thinking about last week’s football phrase - the answer was nutmeg.

Jack: Bye for now and enjoy your football!

Vocabulary

How much did you understand?

In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases connected to fear. Do you know the words in bold?

made you jump! What are you afraid of?

I don't believe in all that nonsense!

Arsenal's defending is absolutely terrifying.

Some horror films are absolutely petrifying.

Wow! Really? How creepy?

Halloween is not that scary.

There were a few more tricky words in the podcast. Do you know what they all mean? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words.

Activity 1

Activity 1: In this activity, try to match the words and phrases to their definitions.
Can you choose the correct definition?

Rich told a story about David Beckham. Jack (and everyone else) thinks it's a load of nonsense!

Grammar

Narrative Tenses

In the podcast, Rich told everyone a (bad) ghost story. The story happened in the past. When he was speaking, he used a lot of past tenses. Past tenses to tell stories are often called narrative tenses. Narrative tenses are what we should normally use when we are telling a story that took place in the past. Let's take a look at some examples of narrative tenses from the podcast:

Language

Past Simple

Rich told a story about a scary clown.

We use the past simple to talk about something that happened once (e.g. Marcus Rashford scored in the 36th minute) or many times in the past (e.g. Alan Shearer scored many goals), for a period of time in the past (e.g. Ronaldo played in the Premier League for 6 years) or to describe states in the past (Diego Maradona was a great player). These are some examples from Rich's story:

The house was very big and had lots of antiques, awards and music and football memorabilia.

The parents told her that the children needed to go to bed at seven-thirty.

Language

Past Continuous

Is Halloween celebrated in your country?

We use the past continuous (was/were + verb + -ing) in a number of ways but the main reasons are to talk about something that continued for a long time or to say what was happening before and/or after a specific action or time. The action is usually the past simple and the description before the.action is the past continuous. Here are some examples from Rich's story and a football example we used in the podcast:

She was babysitting for the Beckham family in Kensington - a rich part of London.

While she was watching TV, she suddenly got scared.

The fans were cheering and singing until the other team scored.

Language

Past Perfect

What are these popular Halloween vegetables called?

When we talk about something that happened in the past we sometimes want to refer back to something that happened before that time. We can use the past perfect tense (had + past participle) to do this. Here's an example from Rich's story and a football example we used in the podcast:

Kimberly had only ever looked after the two children in the daytime. It was the first time she was going to babysit in the evening.

He had never scored in the Premier League before Saturday.

Language

Past Perfect Continuous

Are you a fan of Halloween?

We also use the past perfect continuous (had + been + verb + -ing) two connect two things that happened at different times in the past. It is used for the thing that happened further in the past and usually happened frequently or over a long period of time. Here's an example from Rich's story and a football example we used in the podcast:

He told her the kids had been having nightmares about clowns.

He had been playing really well before he got injured.

Now in this activity, take a look at the text and decide which narrative tense to use in each sentence. Then, take a look at this lesson which tells the story of a Leicester City fan and explains narrative tenses in more detail.

Activity 2

Activity 2: In this activity, read Fred's story and think about how we use the past perfect.
Can you match the sentence halves?

Quiz

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Task

Re-tell Jack's scary story

Can you name this Premier League player preparing for Halloween?

This week's task is to retell Jack's story using narrative tenses.

Imagine you are telling a friend what happened to Jack. Here some questions to help you:

  • Where was Jack? What was he doing when he was reading the messages?
  • How do you know it wasn’t Rich sending the messages? What had happened to RIch's phone? What could have happened to Jack at the church?

Try to use the past simple, past continuous and past perfect when you re-tell Jack's story.

Write all your answers in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at this week's football phrase!

Leave a comment

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Comments

lakerwang
31/10/2019
CN
292
points

When Jack was waiting for Rich, he received a message which seemed to be from his friend and asked if they could meet up at the old church. Jack said he would go to the church right after finishing his coffee. But Rich said it was important and urged him to come. Jack got another message from Rich when he had just left the cafe 2 minute away. It was really weird because it seemed like Rich had already met Jack at the church. When Jack was being confused, he heard Rich calling his name unexpectedly. How strange! And Rich appeared to know nothing about the texting and the meeting at the church because he had lost his phone the night before. Then who had been sending Jack messages? I'm afraid no one would know.

The football phrase is "****** ******".


lakerwang
31/10/2019 16:05
China
Chelsea
292

When Jack was waiting for Rich, he received a message which seemed to be from his friend and asked if they could meet up at the old church. Jack said he would go to the church right after finishing his coffee. But Rich said it was important and urged him to come. Jack got another message from Rich when he had just left the cafe 2 minute away. It was really weird because it seemed like Rich had already met Jack at the church. When Jack was being confused, he heard Rich calling his name unexpectedly. How strange! And Rich appeared to know nothing about the texting and the meeting at the church because he had lost his phone the night before. Then who had been sending Jack messages? I'm afraid no one would know.

The football phrase is "****** ******".

Ali Vasheghani's picture
Ali Vasheghani
31/10/2019
IR
17
points

I think the football phrase would be ****** ******


Ali Vasheghani's picture
Ali Vasheghani
31/10/2019 08:23
Iran
Liverpool
17

I think the football phrase would be ****** ******

Khaldoun83's picture
Khaldoun83
29/10/2019
DZ
321
points

1- The narrative tenses

When Jack was sitting in the coffee shop he recieved a message, Jack had been taking his coffee before the person who claimed that he was Rich insisted for jack to meet him in the old church, after he got out of the coffee shop and when he was walking to meet the person who supposed to be Rich he met this last and when he asked him where you were going he answered to meet you in the old church, then Rich informed him that he had lost his phone....

2- football phrase 

A goose bump injury.


Khaldoun83's picture
Khaldoun83
29/10/2019 20:17
Algeria
Liverpool
321

1- The narrative tenses

When Jack was sitting in the coffee shop he recieved a message, Jack had been taking his coffee before the person who claimed that he was Rich insisted for jack to meet him in the old church, after he got out of the coffee shop and when he was walking to meet the person who supposed to be Rich he met this last and when he asked him where you were going he answered to meet you in the old church, then Rich informed him that he had lost his phone....

2- football phrase 

A goose bump injury.

marwa_ababneh's picture
marwa_ababneh
29/10/2019
JO
8
points

The phrase could be hocus pocus


marwa_ababneh's picture
marwa_ababneh
29/10/2019 16:16
Jordan
Southampton
8

The phrase could be hocus pocus

elghoul's picture
elghoul
29/10/2019
DZ
3341
points

Jack was having breakfast at the coffee while reading messages on his mobile.

We knew that it wasn'nt Rich sending the messages when Jack met him in the street.

Rich  lost his phone last night.

If Jack had joined the old church he could had seen a ghost.


elghoul's picture
elghoul
29/10/2019 14:37
Algeria
Manchester City
3341

Jack was having breakfast at the coffee while reading messages on his mobile.

We knew that it wasn'nt Rich sending the messages when Jack met him in the street.

Rich  lost his phone last night.

If Jack had joined the old church he could had seen a ghost.

wsanta's picture
wsanta
29/10/2019
AR
3756
points

The football phrase could be ****** injury.


wsanta's picture
wsanta
29/10/2019 02:44
Argentina
Liverpool
3756

The football phrase could be ****** injury.

elghoul's picture
elghoul
28/10/2019
DZ
3341
points

Football phrase, ****** ******.


elghoul's picture
elghoul
28/10/2019 17:33
Algeria
Manchester City
3341

Football phrase, ****** ******.

ldzingirai's picture
ldzingirai
28/10/2019
ZW
1587
points

Football Phrase

The noun phrase is ****** ******.


ldzingirai's picture
ldzingirai
28/10/2019 12:18
Zimbabwe
Chelsea
1587

Football Phrase

The noun phrase is ****** ******.

Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
26/10/2019
UA
3719
points

This week's phrase is ****** ******.


Alex_from_Ukraine's picture
Alex_from_Ukraine
26/10/2019 19:27
Ukraine
Liverpool
3719

This week's phrase is ****** ******.

Ahmed Abdallah
26/10/2019
EG
8
points

I think this week's phrase is ****** ******.


Ahmed Abdallah
26/10/2019 12:20
Egypt
Chelsea
8

I think this week's phrase is ****** ******.

Liubomyr's picture
Liubomyr
25/10/2019
UA
3656
points

I think that the phrase is a '****** ******'


Liubomyr's picture
Liubomyr
25/10/2019 15:27
Ukraine
Watford
3656

I think that the phrase is a '****** ******'

Leaderboard

Top Scorers
RankNameScore
1kwesimanifest4731
2wsanta3756
3Alex_from_Ukraine3719
4assemjuve3705
5Liubomyr3656
6aragorn19863557
7elghoul3341
8haydi3189
9Ahmed Adam Mamado2869
10milos2519
Country ranking
RankNameScore
1Colombia69660
2Ukraine29175
3Serbia26801
4Albania20448
5Spain19847
6Macedonia19058
7Bosnia and Herzegovina16248
8Armenia13611
9Vietnam13212
10Kosovo13125
Club ranking
RankNameScore
1Manchester United123208
2Liverpool81798
3Chelsea71023
4Arsenal68341
5Manchester City40051
6Leicester City10967
7Tottenham Hotspur8383
8Newcastle United7444
9West Ham United4639
10Watford4337

Level

3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Goals

Skills: Listening

Vocabulary: The language of fear

Language: Narrative tenses

Task: Re-tell a scary story