Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Today you’ll learn which verb tense to use on Speaking Part 2 answers about movies.

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Today’s question comes from vidhh@quaver, who commented regarding Part 2 speaking.

Suppose I get a subject on movies – should I stick to past tense about the whole story, or is it okay to use present tense?

Great question!

Watch the video now!

Tell a story

For Speaking Part 2 answers, the best strategy is to tell a story.

When the question is about a movie, you have options!

You can choose to tell:

  • how you heard about the film
  • why you decided to watch it
  • who you watched it with
  • what you thought of it.

If you go this route, your answer will be entirely in past tense.

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Narrating the plot

However, you could choose instead to narrate the plot of the film.

In this case, you will still begin your answer in past tense.

Most recently, I saw a film that was a mystery set in England in the 1950’s.

Here you have a choice whether to describe what happens in the film in the past tense or in the present tense.

In this feature, the main character, Alejandro, visited the quaint, rural town where he spent many happy summers as a child. He discovered that some of the town’s inhabitants were hiding a dark secret. What happened next was shocking!

When describing the plot of a book or movie, you can also choose to describe the plot in present tense when you are narrating the story.

The main character, Alejandro, visits the quaint, rural town where he spent many happy summers. He discovers that some of the town’s inhabitants are hiding a dark secret.

When you can’t avoid the past

Notice that the present tense is used for any narration of the story.

However, when we describe something that happened in the past, we still have to use past tense.

…where he spent many happy summers.

This is because as you narrate or describe the plot, anything you refer to from the past would still require the past tense.

  • what a character did as a child
  • events in a character’s past

Present perfect on Speaking Part 2

One of our recent IELTS Energy TV videos described how to use the present perfect to introduce Speaking Part 2 questions.

You could begin your answer with, “I have watched so many films lately, it’s hard to choose just one!”

This is a great way to introduce stories!


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What questions do you have from today’s episode?

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