I am reading a story and I need to retell it and then to ask some questions about the plot. So I don’t know what tense I should use. The author himself switches from Present Simple/Continuous to Past Simple from time to time. So I am absolutely confused. Here are some extracts for you to make my question more clear: 1. It was December 21st, I am 15 and I am living through a slump. 2. I went to school. Flash forward a few hours I am sitting in the Vice Principal’s office. Thank you!

  • Put everything into the present. For example, John is 15 and living through a slump. On December 21 he goes to school. A few hours later he is sitting in the VP's office because he has hit another student... The same applies to the questions: What does his mother say when he gets home?
    – Shoe
    Jan 29, 2019 at 12:27
  • @Shoe thank you! Is it a mistake if I put everything into the past? As far as I understand the key is to use ONE tense and not mix it with others. Is it right? Jan 29, 2019 at 12:35
  • Strictly speaking, English has only two tenses: past and present. So the present simple, present continuous and present perfect are all present tenses. It is common practice to summarize a story or film in the present. (But if you are doing this as a homework assignment, it would be best to ask your teacher.)
    – Shoe
    Jan 29, 2019 at 12:54

1 Answer 1


Suit yourself!

You are re-telling it, now it is almost your story, especially if you are telling it to children and not a formal audience like in a seminar.

In general, present tense works great, combined with past tense for "flash back" segments of the story.

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