How should I refer to a past even if the main text is already in the past?

Members help members on grammar, vocab, pronunciation...

Moderators: Krisi, Vega, EC

Post Reply
User avatar
Judith
New Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 8:03 pm
Status: English Learner

How should I refer to a past even if the main text is already in the past?

Post by Judith » Sun Mar 25, 2018 8:18 pm

Hello how are you?

This is my first post, and I am very happy to be here! :-) I'm from France but was educated through English for most of my life, and have lived in English speaking countries for 13 years in total. All the same, sometimes, writing in English eludes me. Now this is my question: I am writing a short story in English, in the past tense, and in the story, the narrator refers to something that happened on the previous year. Now this short story is set in the past (1992) and the event the narrator mentions happened on the previous year (1991). Basically, this character we are introduced to in 1992 explains her grandfather passed away on the previous year. But while I find it easy to say something like 'Her grandfather passed away last year', I am not sure, grammatically, how to say that this character from 1992 lost her grandfather on the previous year.

So far, the sentence I have is 'Anne's grandfather had passed away a year prior'. I am not sure 'a year prior' is the best way to say this, it sounds a bit heavy and awkward, and I am not sure whether it should be 'had passed away' or just 'passed away' either. Should I write 'Anne's grandfather (had) passed away on the previous year / a year before? I get that A LOT in my writing because a lot of my writing describes the past, and events that passed a long time ago for those characters from the past, so I find myself with that phrase a lot. So any suggestion would be most welcome, and even a few different turns of phrase to express this would be great, in case I have to write this a couple of times in the same story, so I avoid repetition of the same phrase. Also, please note I am aiming for British English: I learned American English as a child and then lived in England for years but when I write I try and stick to British English. Trouble is though, when my English gets unclear due to the effort of having to write in this 'foreign language', I tend to revert to type and my American English from when I was a child learning English comes flooding back. But I would appreciate some British English suggestions. Thank you very much! :-)

User avatar
Joe
Protector of the Boards
Protector of the Boards
Posts: 911
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2003 6:56 am
Status: English Teacher
Location: England

Re: How should I refer to a past even if the main text is already in the past?

Post by Joe » Mon Mar 26, 2018 2:41 am

Anne's grandfather had passed away the previous year.
Anne's grandfather had passed away the year before.
Anne's grandfather had passed away a year earlier.
Anne's grandfather had died the year before.
etc

Post Reply