Paco has decided to visit Sierra Leone and Kenya: Paco had never thought of his heritage before


In this topic, we will study, on the one hand, another important tense in English, the Past Perfect, in contrast with the Past Simple. We will also learn how useful and frequently used the Passive voice is in English, and how sentences in this voice are formed.

On the other hand, we will have a look at some structures strongly related to the passive voice. We will see how they are related. Finally, we will study another vowel sound in English: /a:/, and we will contrast it with the vowel sounds studied in topic 2 —/ æ / and / ʌ /— , as it is very important that you improve your pronunciation, too. Come on, let's begin the topic!

Icono IDevice Reading activity

After visiting the diamond mines in Koidu, Paco did not not feel like going anywhere else. So, he stayed at the hotel and opened the book he was reading, a collection of short stories. He started reading and a passage from "The Legacy", by Virginia Woolf, called his attention:

By Chloe Dietz. C. Commons

It was like Angela to have remembered even Sissy Miller, her secretary. Yet how strange it was, Gilbert Clandon thought once more, that she had left everything in such order —a little gift of some sort for every one of her friends. It was as if she had foreseen her death. Yet she had been in perfect health when she left the house that morning, six weeks ago; when she stepped off the kerb in Piccadilly and the car had killed her.

He was waiting for Sissy Miller. He had asked her to come; he owed her, he felt, after all the years she had been with them, this token of consideration. Yes, he went on, as he sat there waiting, it was strange that Angela had left everything in such order. Every ring, every necklace, every little Chinese box —she had a passion for little boxes— had a name on it. And each had some memory for him. This he had given her; this —the enamel dolphin with the ruby eyes— she had pounced upon one day in a back street in Venice. He could remember her little cry of delight. To him of course, she had left nothing in particular, unless it were her diary. Fifteen little volumes, bound in green leather, stood behind him on her writing table. Ever since they were married, she had kept a diary. Some of their very few —he could not call them quarrels, say tiffs— had been about that diary. When he came in and found her writing, she always shut it or put her hand over it. "No, no, no," he could hear her say, "After I'm dead - perhaps". So she had left it to him, as her legacy. It was the only thing they had not shared when she was alive.

Paco read the passage twice and thought of something he had never thought of before. He had never thought of his legacy. He had won the lottery and had a lot of money. Despite his age, he would have to prepare his heritage as soon as he arrived in Spain, he thought.

Read and listen to the passage carefully paying attention to the tenses used.

Icono de iDevice Solved exercise
In the passage Paco reads there are several sentences that refer to actions that had taken place before other actions that occurred in the past. Those sentences are in the Past Perfect tense.
Past Perfect
Find out five of the sentences in the Past Perfect used in the passage!

Icono de IDevice de pregunta Self-Assessment
By PixLjUice23. C. Commons

According to the text...

1. How did Angela die?

a. She suffered a heart attack.
b. She died a natural death.
c. She was knocked down by a car.

2. ...their secretary...
a. ...had just been contracted.
b. ...had been with them for a long time.
c. ...had come to see Angela.

By sgrace. C. Commons
3. What had Angela given her husband as her legacy?
a. An enamel dolphin with ruby eyes.
b. Her fifteen-volume diary.
c. One of her Chinese boxes.

Icono IDevice Further knowledge

Remember that you may ask Mike for help in order to improve your pronunciation. Ask him how to pronounce words, phrases or, even, whole sentences. Come back whenever you need him!


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Now the Past Perfect tense has been presented within a context, let's study how it is formed and its main uses. Come on, let's move on to next section to study it deeply. It's very easy!