Grammar Smith and her team met Monday morning for a status report on an assault case reported Sunday night by Simple Verb Tense.
“Where do we stand?” Grammar asked.
“Bffnbb argghwng tiddycrmsc.”
Sgt. Metaphor tried not to snicker.
Dis Connect swallowed the last of his doughnut. “Biff and Bob are going to the crime scene to collect evidence.”
“So they’re on their way?” Grammar asked.
“No, they haven’t left yet.”
“But you used the progressive tense which means they are in the process of going.”
“They haven’t left yet.”
“Then just use the simple future: will go.”
Grammar always had gotten grumpy when people misused verb tenses. Today was no exception.
“Okay, let’s move on. What do we know about the assault?”
“The victim had been reporting the assault last night.”
“Did something happen?” Grammar was confused.
“When the victim reported the crime.”
“Good grief, Dis! You used the past perfect progressive which means something else happened. What was it?”
“Then just use the simple past: reported. How can you, a police officer, be so inaccurate in your verb tenses. Get the time right from now on.”
Dis was crushed. He thought he was being precise.
Inspector Nigel Honour, on loan from Scotland Yard’s Grammar Centre, put his arm around the shoulders of the disheartened detective.
“Don’t worry too much, old chap. Lots of people get their tenses mixed up. Here, use this.” Nigel handed Dis a chart. “The only difference is, we Brits use ‘continuous’ for the ‘progressive’ you Yanks use.”
Dis brightened up considerably. “Gee, thanks, Nigel. You’re a real pal.”