Thinking about LanguageThe Narrative Present Notice the incomplete sentences in the following paragraphs. Here the writer is using incomplete sentences in the narration to make the incident more dramatic or immediate. Can you rewrite the paragraph in complete sentences? (You can begin: The vet and I made a dash back to the car. Bruno was still floundering…) (i) A dash back to car. Bruno still floundering about on his stumps, but clearly weakening rapidly; some vomiting, heavy breathing, with heaving flanks and gaping mouth. Hold him everybody! In goes the hypodermic – Bruno squeals – 10 c.c. of the antidote enters his system without a drop being wasted. Then minutes later: condition unchanged! Another 10 c.c. injected! Ten minutes later: breathing less stertorous – Bruno can move his arms and legs a little although he can not stand yet. Thirty minutes later: Bruno gets up and has a great feed! He looks at us disdainfully, as much as to say, ‘What’s barium carbonate to a big black bear like me?’ Bruno is still eating.
(ii) In the paragraphs above from the story the verbs are in the present tense (eg. hold, goes, etc.). This gives the reader an impression of immediacy. The present tense is often used when we give a commentary on a game (cricket, football, etc.), or tell a story as if it is happening now. It is, therefore, called the narrative present. You will read more about the present tense in Unit 10
(i) The vet and I made a dash back to the car. Bruno was still floundering about on his stumps, but clearly he was weakening rapidly. There was some vomiting and heavy breathing. His flanks were heaving and his mouth was gaping. Everybody was asked to hold him. The hypodermic medicine went into Bruno, who squealed. 10 c.c. of anecdote entered his system without a drop being wasted. Even ten minutes later, the condition was unchanged. Another 10 c.c. was injected into him. Ten minutes later, his breathing became less stertorous. Bruno could move his arms and legs a little although he could not stand yet. Thirty minutes later, Bruno got up and had a great feed. He looked at us disdainfully, as much as to say, ‘What’s barium carbonate to a big black bear like me?’ Bruno was still eating.