1. Education

Exercise: Recasting a Paragraph in the Past Tense I

Adapted From "Memorandum" by E.B. White


This recasting exercise will give you practice in using the appropriate past-tense forms of regular and irregular verbs.

The following paragraph has been adapted from "Memorandum," an essay by E.B. White (One Man's Meat, 1944). Rewrite White's paragraph, eliminating the phrase "ought to" wherever it appears and putting the italicized verbs in the past tense. Follow the example below.


Original Sentence
I ought to knock the wedges out from the frames of the pier, put a line on the frames, and tow them in on the high water.

Sentence Recast in the Past Tense
I knocked the wedges out from the frames of the pier, put a line on the frames, and towed them in on the high water.

When you have completed the exercise, compare your work with the revised paragraph on page two.

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I ought to take up the wire fence round the chicken range today, roll it up in bundles, tie them with six-thread, and store them at the edge of the woods. Then I ought to move the range houses off the field and into the corner of the woods and set them up on blocks for the winter, but I ought to sweep them out first and clean the roosts with a wire brush. . . . I ought to add a bag of phosphate to the piles of hen dressing that have accumulated under the range houses and spread the mixture on the field, to get it ready for plowing. . . . On my way in from the range I ought to stop at the henhouse long enough to climb up and saw off an overhanging branch from the apple tree. I shall have to get a ladder of course and a saw.

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