At the time of this posting, it will be almost two weeks since the massacre at two mosques in the city of Christchurch in New Zealand, which left 50 people dead. The massacre was the result of an ultra-right nationalist from Australia, who wanted to spread his white nationalist propaganda to neighboring countries.
There have been many politicians who have tried to address the needs of the families and friends of victims of these heinous mass shootings. Some have focused on gun laws, others on mental health. But there are also some who turn a blind eye, even when the next of kin are suffering beyond comprehension.
Yet if there is a bright spot to all of this, it is the way the situation was handled: with professionalism, sensitivity, humility and in some ways, grace. These are the four characteristics of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. When she learned of the shootings, she brought the country together, providing solidarity, unity and support for those affected. She addressed the issue at hand and pushed through legislation to ensure there is no repeat. And lastly, as we can see in this speech, she left the door open for those who want to live here, stating that everyone is entitled to live in New Zealand. “You are one of us, no matter what background.” One can analyze the speech but I won’t in this case. This is served as reflection on the events, a memorial to the fallen, a “Denkzettel” to those who still turn a blind eye and not care about others, and a sign of unity carried out by politician who believes in one nation for all. A professional matter that should put everyone on notice.
The Flensburg Files would like to provide support and condolences to the families and friends of those who were slain in Christchurch. May it be known that you are not alone. You have a voice and can turn the tide. You have the professionalism and can set examples. You have the heart and soul and can love one another.
Before we get into this topic, I would like to introduce you to this clip of a stunning upset of Georgia Tech against Florida State in American football. Have a look at the clip and come up with some sentences using past tense.
While you are writing some sentences our topic for the use of time markers is solely American football. The sport was introduced in 1869 through a football game between two Ivy League colleges: Rutgers and Princeton. The game consisted of a round ball, two goal posts with an end zone each and lots of tackling. But most importantly, the rules introduced by William Leggett but later modernized by another Ivy League student, Walter Camp, would eventually be integrated into the rules used in today’s sport. The first professional league was created in 1892, yet the National Football League came into being in 1920 and counting the merger with the American Football League in 1969, is one of the oldest leagues in the world, with 32 professional teams and one of the most watched sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl. College football in America is just as popular as the NFL due to its income coming from sponsors, promotions and through college football games, including all the bowl games- most notably: The Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Citrus Bowl, etc. It also features the college marching band, which provides their home team with a round of support.
While we will get to football at a later time, have you had a chance to come up with some sentences to this upset?
Some of you may have taken the easy route and written the following down:
The kicker tried to kick the ball
The defender blocked the ball
Another defender picked up the ball
That defender ran it in for the touchdown
Georgia Tech won the game.
Some may have been more artistic in their sentence construction and wrote something similar to the following:
As the kicker was kicking the ball, it was blocked by the defender.
While the ball was rolling along, another defender picked it up. He was running towards the end zone when the players from Florida State tried to tackle him.
At the end of the game, the crowd was celebrating Georgia Tech’s victory.
This is where the grammar aspect comes in. The more artistic a sentence in English is, the more you can find some spots in grammar that warrant explanation. In this case, we have the words: as, while, when and a certain specified time, plus the verb forms of was + verb with –ing.
Source: SteelCityHobbies, taken in 2006 for flickr and wikiCommons
And this is our topic today: Time Markers involving Past Continuous Form.
Past continuous functions in a similar way as with present continuous, using the “to be” form plus the verb with the –ing ending on it. The continuous functions in a way that it describes what the person is/was doing in a time frame. The difference between present continuous and past continuous is the following:
Is/are + verb-ing => is watching; are doing
Activities that happen now/ at this moment
Future tense in connection with (short-term) planning
Was/were + verb-ing => was driving; were walking
Activities that happened during a certain time frame before or after a an event in the past tense that was finished.
1. I was watching TV when you called.
2. When you called, I was watching TV
3. While I was waiting for the train, my girlfriend called.
4. At this time last night, I was driving home.
5. As I was backing out, the driver hit me from behind.
The third difference between the present and past continuous forms are the time markers. There, when looking at the list below, one can see that there are more time markers in the former than in the latter, whereas the in the latter, the time markers there are used exclusively, while they are rare to use in the former.
(right) now, currently, at the moment, momentarily, these days, nowadays, at present/ at the present time/ presently, today, while, this (week, month, year), in this era/period…
While, when (as a dependent clause), as, during the time…., This time/period, certain specified time: last week, a couple days ago, on 23rd December, at 9:30 last night, etc.
One can also say that some of the elements in past continuous can also be used for past tense, yet one needs to pay attention to the context. That means normally, past tense is the primary verb tense used for sentences, whereas the past continuous is a supplement to the main sentence. Therefore it is normal to see a past continuous being used when the time markers of while, when, as and during are used, as seen in examples in the table above. They normally do not stand out alone unless a certain time period is used and serves as a “substitute” to the past simple verb tense.
I was walking to the grocery store last night. – Past Continuous
I walked to the grocery store last night. – Past Simple
I was walking to the grocery store last night when I heard a strange noise.- Possible
I walked to the grocery store last night when I heard a strange noise.- Not possible
When I saw the person breaking into the store, I called the police.- Possible
While I saw the person breaking into the store, I called the police.- Not possible
Exercise A: The Choice- Look at the sentences below and determine which highlighted part of each sentence is past simple or past continuous. Identify the time markers in each sentence.
Last night, our football team lost in the playoffs finals, and the crowd was heartbroken.
It happened when the quarterback was trying to throw the ball and it was intercepted.
The wide receiver was wide open as the quarterback was throwing the ball to him.
The linebacker, who was being blocked by an offensive lineman, suddenly reached up to tip the ball.
While the ball was bobbling in the air, another linebacker saw it and reached up to grab it.
After he caught the ball, he landed on the ground and started running.
As he was running towards the end zone, several offensive players of the opposing team tried to stop him.
When he saw an opening, he quickly broke free.
While he was running towards the end zone, the noise of the crowd got louder, as the fans were cheering for him.
He suddenly reached the end zone and scored, as the finals seconds ticked to zero.
After he scored, he collapsed and the other players ran towards him.
During that time, he was trying to gasp for air because he ran so hard and so fast despite his weight.
My team started crying because we were leading by one point with four seconds left on the clock.
The fans of the winning team was racing onto the field as time ran out.
I still cannot forget the game today, because we were so close to winning but we were facing frontal winds during the whole game.
Exercise B: Unscramble-Unscramble the following words and form a complete sentence using the correct verb tense (past continuous/present continuous/past simple).HINT: Identify the subject, verb and time marker first before proceeding with the sentence construction!
by 3 points
in the last minute
on the first play
during the game
(!): Two sentence construction: Bold printed words are for the first half of the sentence. Please unscramble those in the top row first before unscrambling the bottom half that is for the second half!
Exercise C: Fill-in
Using the verb in parentheses, complete each sentence using either the past simple or past continuous. !:Please pay attention to the time markers in each sentence.HINT: Identify them first before completing the sentence.
Theo _______________ the chip dip for the party when his best friend called. (prepare)
Clyde’s first day of football practice _____________yesterday at the high school football field. (begin)
While I ____________ busy bringing down the quarterback, a lineman suddenly ________ into me and _________ me down. (to be/run/knock)
After I _________ to the ground, I sprained my ankle. (fall)
Sam ____________the best football game of his career last season, as he ___________ three touchdowns, and his team won the state championship. (play/score)
We _______________ to meet friends at a tailgate party outside the football stadium when we ____________ a flat tire on our pick-up. (go/see)
Because we wanted to watch the Super Bowl, we _____________ a new TV three days ago. (buy)
While you _____________ with that damn chick over there, we _________do all the work to prepare for the party. (flirt/have to)
Jesse ____________ with her marching band at the Rose Bowl parade yesterday. We ___________ it live on TV. (march/watch)
A: What ________you _________ just now? (do- question form)
B: I _____________ a pizza. Glad you __________ because I need your help. (make/come)
A: That _______ a foul call! (to be)
B: Hey! Why are you shouting at the TV?
A: Because that quarterback was hit after he _______ the ball! And the referee ____________ it! (throw/ not see)
A: Hey coach! Why did you cut me?
B: Because you _____________the job I had asked you to do on this football team. (not do)
As the quarterback BJ was ________________the field, quarterback Jimmy ____________ the field to replace him. (walk off/ enter)
As Corey __________ the ball into the end zone to score, the marching band ran onto the field. (run)
The football players _________ the coach off the field while he __________ the trophy in his arms. (carry 2x)
Look at the following football videos. Can you try and construct sentences in past tense, using either past simple, past continuous or both PLUS the correct time marker. As a bonus, can you find which game winner came from a college football game? 🙂
Example 1: The Minneapolis Miracle
Example 2:The Immaculate Reception
Example 3:The Catch of the Year
Example 4: The Clutch and the Clincher
Example 5: The Big Interception
Example 6:The Lateral
Example 7:The Botch
Now that you had a chance to work with the time markers dealing with past continuous and its comparison with past simple and present continuous, the next order of business will be a quiz on American football, its history, culture and all the things many Europeans probably don’t know about. The quiz on American football can be found here. In that quiz, you can also learn more about another grammatical function in English, namely passive versus active voice. Enjoy! 🙂
The Flensburg Files and its sister column The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles need your help to solve the case of missing subscribers to its wordpress pages. On the evening of March 16th, the Files witnessed a sudden drop in the number of subscribers despite having a steady increase. The number of subscribers suddenly decreased from 1171 to 124 within seconds, whereas the Chronicles’ subscribers dropped from 901 to 201. While the numbers have been cleared up with the Chronicles (currently at 908 at the time of this post), it hasn’t been cleared up with the Files for many people may not be receiving the articles at all. All subscribers to the Files are asked to check and see if you are receiving your articles on a regular basis. It may be possible that you need to resubscribe if you are not receiving the Files at all. As an alternative you can also like the Files on facebook both as a group page as well as its regular page. In either case, check your subscriptions and encourage others to follow the Files to receive a variety of items ranging from German-American themes, English as a foreign language, literature, genre and media tips and other commentary from the author. There will be more articles to come.
The Flensburg Files would like to thank you for your help in this matter.
There have been some talk about the Fridays for the Future Demonstrations and all of the advantages and disadvantages of students walking out of school to demonstrate for climate change. On one side of the spectrum, skipping classes to demonstrate has had a resounding effect on politics and policies of each country, forcing governments to reconsider their laws and heed to the demands of the demonstrators. There are enough examples, big and small, that support this argument, including the top three that I have:
The college demonstrations in the US against the Vietnam War- Starting in 1968, these demonstrations, albeit bloody, resulted in President Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to run for a second term in office. He was replaced by Richard Nixon, who wound down the war efforts by withdrawing troops and contributing to brokering a deal between North and South Vietnam. The war ended when the North Vietnamese troops captured Saigon and the rest of South Vietnam in 1975, hours after the last US troops left.
The Monday Night Demonstrations in East Germany- Starting in September 1989, the demonstrations that started every Monday evening at St. Nicholas Church ended up becoming a nationwide demonstration demanding change to a communist system that was considered broken. The end result was the downfall of Erich Honecker on 19 October and the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November. In the end, the peaceful protest also marked the beginning of talks for a reunified Germany, which happened on 3 October, 1990, and the domino effect that led to the end of Communism in 1991.
The Parkland Massacre Demonstrations of 2019- After a shooting spree that resulted in the deaths of 17 people at a high school in Florida, a group of high schoolers started a protest to address the use of guns in the US and the lobby group NRA. The end result is a shift in tide from the right to have guns to the right to protect our children, even if it means voting out every single NRA supporter who rejects stricter gun laws.
But by the same token, many teachers and parents, as well as some politicians feel that skipping school to protest climate change is just a waste of time and that time should be spent discussing this in the classroom.
But as you can see in the TED-Talk speech by 16-year old Greta Thunberg, there has been too much talk and too little action. Many turn a blind eye for the sake of popularity and money. Too much money has been wasted for conferences and speeches. And when the situation becomes unbearable where even the youngest generation walks out to protest the changes in our environment which are slowly becoming irreversible, then the time for talk is over and the time to act is now. The talk looks at the origins of the Friday for the Future demonstrations and how it has evolved since she started the walk-out process at her high school in Sweden.
Watch or listen to this speech and ask yourself what can be done to stop the destructive changes that are taking place to our planet. There are enough things to be done without talking about it.
The next comparison we have is the difference between Present Simple and Past Simple. Here one needs not much for explanation for the difference is sometimes too easy to see. Present Simple deals with three key aspects: statement, routine and fixed scheduling. An example for each one can be seen below:
There are many people at the rock concert.
The Wacken Rock Festival takes place every summer in July.
Thousands of rock fans travel there every year to cheer their favorite band on.
Werner the motorcyclist goes there with his friends.
To help with the difference, one should keep in mind of the time markers that are used, which is below:
Time Marker Present Simple
always, mostly, mainly, often, never, sometime, occasionally, (un-)usually, normally, traditionally, frequently, seldom, rarely, hardly (ever), certain days, weeks, months and years, each/every (day, week, month, year,….), daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, annually, bi-annually, regularly, and the numerical frequency (once, twice, three times, etc.)
For past simple the purpose of that is describing the event that is finished. One however needs to pay attention to the fact that present perfect can be used as well. The difference between the two, as described in this post (here) is that past simple is used solely for confirmed and/or exact time; present perfect is only for an undescribed time.
Difference between past simple and present perfect:
20,000 fans have attended the rock concert. – present perfect
20,000 fans attended the rock concert last night. – past simple
Tickets for the 2019 Wacken Festival have been sold out– Present Perfect
Tickets for the 2019 Wacken Festival were sold out three months ago.- Past Simple
Past simple verbs can be divided up into regular and irregular verbs, which also applies for the present perfect verb tenses. A link to the list of irregular verb tenses can be found here. A guide on pronouncing regular verb tenses, known as Ted is Ded, can be found here. It is very important when learning the English language is to know the difference and to conjugate the irregular verb tenses for they have no clear rule in terms of endings in English.
Time Marker Past Simple
ago, last (night, week, month, year, decade, century & millenium), yesterday, at, in, on, for, during, suddenly, (un-)expectedly, from (a) to (b), in the course of (…), when (used as a subordinate clause), sequential order (first, second, lastly, finally, etc.- also after), other adverbial phrases (surprisingly, quickly, slowly, etc.)
Sadly though, many students mix up the verb tenses for many reasons. One of the main reasons is the inability to make the distinction between regular and irregular verb tenses and as a result, the inability to conjugate the verbs in English. Another is not paying attention to the verb form, especially with regards to the third person singular, which requires the “S”, if and only if the verb is present. But there are other reasons as well and therefore, some exercises are here to help you.
So let’s start and we’ll focus on rock music in Germany! 🙂
The following statements, dealing with the Wacken Open-Air Rock Festival, has a verb tense in brackets. Look at each one (and the time markers) and put in the correct verb tense (present or past).
The first Wacken Rock Festival __________ in 1990. (start) 800 people __________ the event. (attend)
The festival _________ the largest ever in the world. (to be) Tens of thousands __________ the 4-day event every year, which _____________ at the end of July. (attend; take place)
86,000 people ___________the Wacken Open-Air Festival in 2011. (visit)
The festival traditionally _________ on the first Sunday in August. (end) Tickets _______ on sale for next year’s event the next day and _________ booked out within 24 hours (go; to be)
197 bands _________ at Wacken in 2018. (play)
People usually _________ black clothing as their first choice at the Wacken Rock Festival. (wear)
It _________ matter who is on stage. (do not) People just __________ fun every time a rock band is on stage. (have)
A home for the elderly of Itzehoe frequently _______ field trips to the festival, to celebrate their over-70 parties. (take) Hosts _________them free passes. (grant)
People _________ watch the rock concert with virtual reality for the first time in 2016. (can) In 2017, the public channels __________ the the concerts available for the first time in the mediathek. (make)
After Lenny Kilmister of the rock music band Motorhead ________in December 2015, the Wacken Open Air Festival _________ a tribute to him during their 2016 concert. (die; pay) The tribute _________ 24 minutes. (last)
Determine whether these statements, all dealing with the Rock am Ring and Rock im Park Festivals are true or false, in terms of verb use. If false, please correct them.
The Rock am Ring (“Rock at the Ring”) and Rock im Park (“Rock in the Park”) festivals were two simultaneous rock music festivals held annually.
Rock am Ring started in 1985 and it later became an annual event.
The festival go on hiatus for two years after fewer people show up in 1988.
In 1993, Rock im Park take place for the first time in Vienna.
Munich hosted the festival for three years until 1996.
Between 145,000 and 155,000 fans attend the two festivals every year.
Each year, the Nürburgring and the Zeppelinfeld in Nuremberg held the duo-concert.
Over 200 bands stepped on stage for one of the two concerts between 1985 and 2018.
Use the following time markers and construct a sentence, using the correct verb tense.
three months ago:
During the holiday season:
a week ago:
once a week:
Any questions? If not, we will look at the progressive forms of the two and compare them to simple tenses. In the meantime, rock on! 🙂
In the last genre article, we talked about the first spring flowers that usually come out and provide us with a sign of spring. We had the last one on The Crocus, while this one looks at the Snowdrop. Enjoy! 🙂
Dainty little Snowdrop Peeping through the snow You are so beautiful and white How gracefully you grow. Dear, dainty little Snowdrop So brave for one so small You push your way through the hard, hard soil To give pleasure to us all. Beautiful little Snowdrop You are a harbinger of Spring We know full well when you are gone Other flowers will begin. But for all the beauty of other flowers There are none that compare With you, dear little Snowdrop So dainty and so fair. And so dear little Snowdrop Your beauty will always shine And give us mortals pleasure Time after time after time.
When it comes to spring time, we intend to look for the first signs for they play a role in us determining when to start planting the next crops, when to get the lawn furniture and grill out, and when to put away the winter gear. It may be the first Thunderstorm or rainfall. It may be based on Phil seeing his shadow on Groundhog Day (2 February). But it could also be based on the first wild plants that rise within the snow.
In Germany and other parts of Europe and North America, we have two different flowers that are the first to bloom and the first key indicators of spring’s arrival. The first one, as seen in the photo above is the crocus. They usually appear in February or March, but covering the lawns and prairies like a carpet with colors of blue, pink, lilac and yellow. These crocuses grow together with another flower, the white-colored snowdrops, and they provide passers-by with some picturesque views of lawns that start off green and brown, but are painted with wonderful colors, all of which symbolize something new.
This genre is a poem that was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the same American author who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which looked at slavery and discrimination. The title is the same as the flower itself. And how she describes the crocus, speaks for itself. Sit back and enjoy this poem.
Beneath the sunny autumn sky, With gold leaves dropping round, We sought, my little friend and I, The consecrated ground, Where, calm beneath the holy cross, O’ershadowed by sweet skies, Sleeps tranquilly that youthful form, Those blue unclouded eyes.
Around the soft, green swelling mound We scooped the earth away, And buried deep the crocus-bulbs Against a coming day. ‘These roots are dry, and brown, and sere; Why plant them here?’ he said, ‘To leave them, all the winter long, So desolate and dead.’
‘Dear child, within each sere dead form There sleeps a living flower, And angel-like it shall arise In spring’s returning hour.’ Ah, deeper down — cold, dark, and chill — We buried our heart’s flower, But angel-like shall he arise In spring’s immortal hour.
In blue and yellow from its grave Springs up the crocus fair, And God shall raise those bright blue eyes, Those sunny waves of hair. Not for a fading summer’s morn, Not for a fleeting hour, But for an endless age of bliss, Shall rise our heart’s dear flower.
I would like to start this Genre article with a quote by Julia Soul about taking chances, which goes along the lines of this: If you are never scared, embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take chances. With spring coming around, comes a time when we need to take some chances in life. As each year of our lives passes, we realize that we’ve collected more missed chances and regret, while we receive fewer chances to make things right. Yet we never realize it until it is almost too late, and even worse, when someone points it out.
In the Daffodil Principle, the theme of the story has to do with chances and how the character who refuses to see the mountain of daffodils gets shown the picture by her daughter, and with that, a great smell of strong coffee and reality of how much she has missed and how little time she has to take chances. This narrative was written by J.A. Edwards but I’m presenting this in audion form, read by British narrator Debbie Hayes. Listen to it and think about the chances you have taken, the chances you’ve missed and most important, the chances you have left in your life to change it for your own satisfaction.
While we have been talking about the fall of capitalism and countries in Europe introducing a general income for all, some of us wonder if there is a correlation between poverty and intelligence, or poverty and health. While there have been many (and sometimes important) studies that definitely confirm the latter, there is very little written or even spoken about the former.
That is until a TED-talk session in 2017, where Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, debunks the claim that poverty and intelligence are related. Bregman specializes in the history of economics and society and has done talks and written many pieces in this field. In this TED talk session, Bregman claims that the correlation relating to poverty has more to do with one lacking cash for the basic necessities: food, education, shelter and clothing, and less with the character of the person him-/herself. Even the brightest persons in the world happen to be poor. As a result, he pushes for a national general income for all program to encourage people to have these necessities and not treat them as a luxury. Interestingly enough, it was introduced in the Netherlands in the 1970s and produces surprising results.
Details are in his speech. Watch it and ask yourself if a general income for all would be of advantage to your country’s population and if so, how?
It is hard to believe that 28 years ago, the rock music group Queen, released one of the best songs of the 1990s. Entitled Bohemian Rhapsody, the song was produced in 1975 but was introduced for the first time in the film Wayne’s World. It was one of the last songs for lead singer Freddy Mercury, who succumbed to bronchial pneumonia in connection with AIDS, in November 1991.
No one ever thought that a parody of the song would be created and released. Yet in this Genre of the Week, the group Bry Logic did just that. The song Opinion Rhapsody was produced towards the end of 2018. It has been making its rounds in the social media and it combines politics, social media and another classic into one. That classic aspect you will see in the video below.
Opinion Rhapsody shows how these three elements are affecting not only American society today, but in other countries as well. And while the scenes do look rather ridiculous on screen, it does present the underlying problems we have today and will continue to have before the “big bang” happens. Two of them are very obvious: can you identify them? And if you can, think about what you can do to help, especially if you have a grudge against a person or group because of differences caused by these two elements?
After all, after watching this clip, it will give many an incentive to congregate to church for the next service or have a picnic, where eye-to-eye, personal contact has become a luxury than a necessity. 😉