Learning verb forms
Harry loves Sally and Sally loves Harry, but it wasn’t easy for the two movie characters to get together. A single tense won’t tell the story well. Watch and listen to the ending of the classic movie.
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Harry loves Sally and Sally lives Harry, but it will take more than one tense to put this relationship back together.
Mixing the present with the past.
A conversation would seem quite strange if it only used a single tense. Normally, as the topics change, so do the tenses. We might, for example, talk about something that is important to us at the present and then look back in time for the cause. The verb forms we use would naturally switch from present forms to past.
Here’s an example from the ending of the movie When Harry met Sally. At the beginning, the focus is on now – why Harry loves Sally. Then, the time shifts to after their wedding and the two of them look back at how they got together and what the wedding was like. The verb forms naturally change from the present to the past.
Harry: Well how does it (love) work?
Sally: I don't know but not this way.
Harry: Well how about this way. I love that you get cold when it's seventy one degrees (22 Celsius) out, I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich, I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts, I love that after I spend a day with you I can still smell your perfume on my clothes and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Years Eve. I came here tonight because when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.
Sally: You see, that is just like you Harry. You say things like that and you make it impossible for me to hate you.
And I hate you Harry... I really hate you. I hate you.
(They kiss and make up.)
Harry: What does this song mean? For my whole life I don't know what this song means. I mean, 'Should old acquaintance be forgot".
Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances or does it mean if we happen to forget them we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot them!?
Sally: Well may be it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway it's about old friends.
(They kiss and make up, once more.)
Harry (Voice over): The first time we met we hated each other.
Sally (Voice over): No, you didn't hate me, I hated you.
And the second time we met you didn't even remember me.
Harry (Voice over): I did too, I remembered you. The third time we met, we became friends.
Sally (Voice over): We were friends for a long time.
Harry (Voice over): And then we weren't.
Sally (Voice over): And then we fell in love.
(Harry and Sally on the couch this time.)
Sally: Three months later we got married.
Harry: Yeah it only took three months.
Sally: Twelve years and three months.
Harry: We had this... we had a really wonderful wedding.
Sally: It was a, it really was, it was a wonderful wedding.
Harry: Yeah, we had this enormous coconut cake.
Sally: Huge coconut cake, with the, with the... tiers and this... very rich chocolate sauce on the side.
Harry: Right, 'cos (because) not everybody like it on the cake 'cos
it makes it very soggy.
Sally: Particularly the coconut, soaks up a lot of that stuff, so you really... it's important to keep it on the side.
crinkle – a small untidy fold in something such as paper or cloth, or, as in this case, the skin รอยพับ
nuts – crazy บ้า
realise – to know about ตระหนัก รู้
acquaintance – a person you know but who you are not close friends with คนคุ้นเคย
enormous – extremely large มหาศาล
tiers – rows or layers of something, each at a different height
soggy – wet and soft, especially in an unpleasant way เปียกโชก, ชุ่มโชก
soak up – to make something very wet to cause liquid to go into something, like a piece of tissue paper ซึมซับ
To further understand the present and past simple, read the relevant chapters in Understanding English verb forms.
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