habitual action in the past


In the following paragraph,


Today I had attended the evening class of MT at AU. When I was standing in a queue and waiting for a mini-bus at the bus stop, a woman queuing in front of me asked if this was the right bus route to get to PC secondary school and when would the bus arrive at the station. I said, “Yes, this should be the right one for you. In the past, the bus would have arrived at the station as frequent as one per five minutes. However, it seems that something might have happened today and subsequently causing a delay.”


1. Is it grammatically correct to use auxiliary and present perfect "would have arrived" to mean the how frequent the bus would arrived at the stop in the past?


2. Any other grammatical problems are found in this short passage, especially those highlighted in bold?


asked Sep 23 '11 at 02:09 CF LOK Contributor

1 answer


To answer your first question, to state how something happened in the past but has changed now, you can indeed use "would have...", so "the bus would have arrived" is  correct. 




"I would have done ___ but now ____."

"In the past, this would have happened (but now___)." (The bit in brackets may be implied, not stated.)


However, in the context of the rest of your paragraph, you will see that I recommend that you change it. See point 7 below. 


Today I went to the evening class of MT at AU. When I was standing in a queue at the bus stop, a woman queuing in front of me asked if this was the right bus route to get to PC secondary school and when the bus would arrive at the stop. I said, “Yes, this should be the right one for you. Normally, a bus comes every five minutes, but it seems that something might have happened today as they are late.”


  1. You don't need to use "had attended" unless you're going to say that something else then happened (eg, "I had attended the class when I realised I had brought the wrong books.") Just "attended" will be fine. Additionally, since your story is about what happened on the way there (or coming home) I would use the verb 'to go' rather than 'to attend'. This is a style issue so you don't have to make that change, but using "attended" puts the emphasis on the class. "Went to" would put the emphasis on the journey.
  2. You don't need the clause "and waiting for a mini-bus". There's nothing wrong with it being there, but the action is implied because of where you're standing while you queue.
  3. Switch the order of "would the bus" so that the verb comes after 'the bus'.
  4. The bus "station" is a distinct place, normally the end of the route or a big interchange. Use the word "stop" to avoid confusion.
  5. You're describing the habitual activity of the buses on that particular route. "In the past" implies you are about to give historical information, not something that should still be happening today. Change it to "Normally" to convey the sense that it should still be happening. 
  6. Change "the" to "a", since you're talking about any given bus on that route, not one particular bus.
  7. Since you're still describing habitual activity, you can use the present form of the verb "arrives". However, since you're standing at the stop, you could also use the word "comes", which is slightly less formal and more conversational.
  8. Use the word "every" instead of "as frequent as one per". Again, you are having an informal conversation and so scientific acuracy is not necessary. If you want to stick with the original phrase, you would need to add "ly" to the end of "frequent" >> "as frequently as".
  9. "However" and "subsequently" are both more formal words, so you would be less likely to use them in casual conversation with a stranger.
  10. You are assuming that something has happened because there is a delay, rather than noticing that something has happend and assuming there will be a delay as a result.
  11. Again, "delay" is rather formal in this context, use "late" instead in conversation. 

I hope all that helps! It is a good paragraph - very complex. Most of the alterations come from the difference between spoken English and written English. 

link answered Sep 23 '11 at 09:52 Siân Harris Expert

Thank you very very much for the kind advice!!! CF LOKSep 23 '11 at 10:24

add comment

Your answer

Write at least 20 characters

Have a question about English grammar, style or vocabulary use? Ask now to get help from Grammarly experts for FREE.