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Practice in Using the Past Forms of Verbs

This exercise is based on two paragraphs from Hunger of Memory, the autobiography of Mexican-American Richard Rodriguez, who began his education in Sacramento, California, knowing just 50 words of English.

The exercise will give you practice in using the correct past forms of regular verbs and irregular verbs. Before attempting the exercise, you may find it helpful to review these two short articles:

In the following passage from Hunger of Memory, Richard Rodriguez recalls his first experience with the pleasures of reading. Complete the sentences in paragraphs two and three by writing the appropriate past form of each verb in brackets. For example, in the opening sentence of paragraph two, the present-tense verb serve should be changed to the past form, served.

When you have completed the exercise, compare your answers with those on page two.

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from Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez

What most bothered me . . . was the isolation reading required. To console myself for the loneliness I'd feel when I read, I tried reading in a very soft voice. Until: "Who is doing all that talking to his neighbor?" Shortly after, remedial reading classes were arranged for me with a very old nun.

At the end of each school day, for nearly six months, I would meet with her in the tiny room that [serve] _______________ as the school's library but was actually only a storeroom for used textbooks and a vast collection of National Geographics.

Everything about our sessions [please] _______________ me: the smallness of the room; the noise of the janitor's broom hitting the edge of the long hallway outside the door; the green of the sun, lighting the wall; and the old woman's face blurred white with a beard. Most of the time we [take] ______________ turns. I [begin] _______________ with my elementary text. Sentences of astonishing simplicity [seem] _________________ to me lifeless and drab: "The boys [run] ___________________ from the rain . . . She [want] ____________________ to sing . . . The kite [rise] __________________ in the blue." Then the old nun would read from her favorite books, usually biographies of early American presidents. Playfully she [run] _______________ through complex sentences, calling the words alive with her voice, making it seem that the author somehow was speaking directly to me. I [smile] _______________ just to listen to her. I [sit] ________________ there and [sense] ____________________ for the very first time some possibility of fellowship between a reader and a writer, a communication, never intimate like that I heard spoken words at home convey, but one nonetheless personal.

One day the nun [conclude] ___________________ a session by asking me why I was so reluctant to read by myself. I [try] ________________ to explain; [say] ___________________ something about the way written words [make] ___________________ me feel all alone--almost, I [want] __________________ to add but didn't, as when I [speak] ___________________ to myself in a room just emptied of furniture. She [study] ________________ my face as I spoke; she [seem] ________________ to be watching more than listening. In an uneventful voice she [reply] __________________ that I [have] __________________ nothing to fear. Didn't I realize that reading would open up whole new worlds? A book could open doors for me. It could introduce me to people and show me places I never imagined existed. She [gesture] _________________ toward the bookshelves. (Bare-breasted African women [dance] ___________________, and the shiny hubcaps of automobiles on the back covers of the Geographic [gleam] _________________ in my mind.) I [listen] __________________ with respect. But her words [are] _________________ not very influential. I was thinking then of another consequence of literacy, one I [am] _________________ too shy to admit but nonetheless [trust] ________________. Books were going to make me "educated." That confidence [enable] ___________________ me, several months later, to overcome my fear of the silence.

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