resource guide

The past tense

KS3 > Skills > Sentence level work ~ grammar and punctuation

How it works This is not only a good grammar exercise, but gives pupils a great model for their own horror stories. I use the differentiated ‘fill-in’ model with weaker pupils, but more able pupils benefit from having to re-write the sentences – much as they moan – because they do get into the mode that way, making it easier to sustain the quality of writing when they come to their own endings.

Try this! I’ve allowed pupils to dramatise the extracts (I like to use both for the grammar, letting pupils choose which to complete) as a reward for doing the grammar! They improvise endings in their groups, which helps them decide how to write theirs. The groups watch each other and discuss which ideas are effective.

It is important that the drama is not just ‘mucking about’ but creates the atmosphere, so their challenge is to use no words, only expressions and actions.


© 2006 verbs957c - 4800



© 2003 4800.doc page 1

Here is the start of a short ghost story by Matthew Green but written in the

present tense. You need to change the verbs to past tense and then continue the story in your own words.

Dead Trial

Sergeant Walter Eaton stands at the Police Station reception desk busying himself with whatever it is that Police do when they're manning reception, when a person literally walks in through the door.

Now, to clarify, the door is never opened and there is no gap for anybody to climb in through. He actually passes through the wood without causing any damage at all.

The man walks over to Walter and says, "I'm here to report a murder."

Walter notices that the man is slightly transparent. He can see the far wall through the man's skull.

"Okay," Walter says, "What is the name of the person who was murdered?"

"Richard Thomas," he replies.

"And what is your name, and your relation to the murder victim?"

"My name is Richard Thomas, and the murder victim is me."

Walter is confused. "What?"

"Observe," says Richard, as he passes his hand through the Sergeant's chest.

"I really don't think we have any regulations regarding this sort of thing, let me get the chief."

Richard sees Walter disappear to the back of the station. After a few minutes he hears a muffled argument going on.

Walter pushes the Chief through to the reception area and says, "See for yourself."

The Chief composes himself and said: "So sonny, you claim to be dead eh?"

Richard is very polite. "Yes sir."

Now continue the story in your own words.


The original versions of this story may be available online at:

Dead Trial copyright © Matthew Green



© 2003 4800.doc page 2

Here is the start of a horror story by Virginia E. Zimmer, but written in the present tense. You need to change the verbs to past tense, then continue the story in your own words.

AN ACTIVE IMAGINATION The thud comes again.

Rose clicks the television silent, straining her ear against the storm that splatters the roof with a mixture of rain and hail. Tentacles of delicate fog scrape across the window glass seeking shelter from the gale winds.

The soft thump comes from the basement, as though someone, or something, has knocked a book to the floor. Rose grips the arms of the chair and curses her husband for leaving her alone on a night like this, knowing she is fearful of storms, empty houses and prowlers, however imaginary they might be. She has already lit every lamp and overhead light in the house, but they fail to dispel the damp, dreary feeling of impending doom.

Her husband Jimmy has nagged her about getting a dog to keep her company on the nights he works late, but Rose will not hear of such a thing. What if the dog gets rabies and goes mad while she is alone with him? Her small delicate frame will be no match for a snarling, crazy-in-the-head animal who will shred her to pieces with its gnashing teeth.

The television screen flickers in muted silence as it runs the news story again, warning the public about the man with the knife. He has been evading the police for weeks, leaving behind no clues about his how he slaughters women who are home alone.

But Rose knows where the man is. He is in her basement skulking around in the dark with the butcher knife between his teeth.

Now continue the story in your own words.

An Active Imagination copyright © Virginia E. Zimmer



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