Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

When do you need multiple verb tenses in English?

Using more than one tense is one of the secrets to telling an interesting story!

It’s not perfect grammar, but it’s being flexible with your grammar.

Listen in today as Lindsay and Aubrey share with you how you can own the room by telling dynamic stories in English.

Storytelling like a native English speaker

Lindsay asks Aubrey when was the last time she had her wires crossed.

  • get wires crossed: a misunderstanding

She shares that she got her wires crossed when her neighbor sent her a photo of one of her house plants.

Her neighbor said she was worried that her plant wouldn’t survive.

Aubrey answered, “It looks droopy. Good luck!”

Her neighbor then was concerned and said “Oh no! Does it look droopy? I just bought it.”

Aubrey had misunderstood because she assumed the plant was old and she didn’t know it was new.

She was worried she might have offended her neighbor.

She immediately called her up and explained the misunderstanding.

This can happen to anyone.

Aubrey says that even native English speakers get confused.

Lindsay found Aubrey’s story very interesting.

As she was telling the story, she was using several different verb tenses.

This is an advanced skill that you want to learn so you sound more native and natural.

Spice up your story

To be able to better explain how you can use multiple tenses in your story to spice it up, Lindsay and Aubrey will break down the story that Aubrey told.

  • “I got my wires crossed last night…”

In this sentence, Aubrey used the past tense.

She was setting the scene and wanted to let you know that it happened in the past.

She also hooks you with an interesting idiom.

This was discussed in a previous episode on how to start your story with a hook.

You can check out AEE 1364: Grammar Part 3: Tell a Story and Hook your Audience with Past Progressive

It is important to make sure the people you’re talking to are listening to the story you’re sharing.

  • “She is worried it won’t survive”

In this portion of the story, Aubrey moved to a passive voice.

This is not the only option.

Lindsay says that she would usually say “She was worried it wouldn’t survive.”

The difference is, you usually use the passive voice if the incident happened very recently.

However, if it happened further in the past, you can use the way Lindsay says it.

  • “It does look a little droopy. Good luck!”

This is an interesting part of how Aubrey shared what she said to her neighbor.

She didn’t switch back to the past tense because she is quoting herself.

She used the present tense to share what her response was.

  • “I had misunderstood and I thought she had owned it for some time.”

This part is in the past perfect tense.

Lindsay and Aubrey share that this tense isn’t used as often as other tenses.

The past perfect tense is saying something already happened before something else happened in the past.

How to practice telling an interesting story

There are a lot of stories we can share.

It can be as simple as what happened in a recent series you watched or podcasts you’ve listened to.

This helps you get a back-and-forth conversation with your friends and colleagues as you share your story.

Aubrey shares that she is listening to the podcast “Someone Knows Something.”

It is a true crime series in which, through their investigative journalism, the podcasters solve the crime they are researching.

Lindsay listens to “Scam Goddess.”

It’s about all types of scams that the podcaster investigates and adds a bit of humor.

Aubrey said it may be similar to Netflix’s “The Tinder Swindler.”

You can watch and listen to these suggestions from Lindsay and Aubrey.

This will definitely help you make your storytelling better.

Listening to how native English speakers tell stories will give you great insight into how to do it and sound more natural.


The takeaway from this episode is to ensure that you make your stories more interesting by using multiple tenses.

Don’t get stuck in a one-way mindset.

This is a great way to spice up your storytelling and captivate your friends and colleagues.

Telling a good story will also invite questions and encourage your audience to share a similar thing that happened to them.

Lindsay and Aubrey encourage you to integrate the learning from this episode as soon as you can.

Don’t wait until you reach a certain level to use advanced English lessons like this.

What is a story you can share that you can tell in multiple tenses?

Share it in the comments below!

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