Narrative and Description – Past Continuous Tense

When we tell a story in English we usually use the past simple tense – the narrative tense.

The narrative or story tense carries the story forward.

We can stop the story at any point and look at the scenery.

We can describe the scenery and we can say what is happening.

After we give the description we move on to the next part of the story through the narrative.

Look at this:

narrative – description

Tenses – Past and Continuous

In the story “Lives of a Man – the Field“, we see two different tenses:

The man walks through the fields.
He sees a woman.
He stops.

She is working in the fields.
She is wearing a scarf.
She is weeding the field.

Note the change from past simple tense to past continuous tense is also a change from narrative to description.


A narrative is a series of actions.

entered the forest
walked through the forest
left the forest
walked across a field
saw a woman in the field
looked at the woman


A description is a picture of a long action or a state or condition:

wearing a dress
working in the fields
weeding the fields

Link to the Fields

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