The old dark house

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 October, 2005, 12:00am

Detective Ma could not tear himself away from the old dark house. Five years ago, Ma had found the old woman murdered there in her bedroom. Who had killed her? The question had been tearing at the detective's mind for five long years. He had returned to the house hundreds of times to look for clues.

There was no one in the house when Detective Ma had broken in that night. The door and the windows of the bedroom were locked from the inside. Many ideas about the murder had torn at the detective over the years, but the crime had not been solved. How could anybody commit a murder inside a locked room?

Now they were going to tear down the house. This was his last chance. They were tearing down the old properties in the area. Everyone would forget the old woman's murder once the house was torn down and a new apartment block built on the site.

Detective Ma had torn himself away from an exciting football match on TV to visit the old dark house for one last time. His boss had told him a thousand times not to allow the mystery to tear at his thoughts but Ma had always ignored him.

Suddenly, a door slammed somewhere upstairs. A rapid scream tore at the silence and Detective Ma ran to the staircase. He shone his torch into the air but did not see the body on the floor. Detective Ma stood still a couple of moments before he ran up the stairs into the darkness.


Please TEAR yourself AWAY from the story and look at these three key verbal phrases.

1. TO TEAR AWAY - to make someone stop doing something they are enjoying because they have to do something else

Can you TEAR yourself AWAY from your Play Station and get your homework done?

I must TEAR myself AWAY from the TV and go to the supermarket.

2. TO TEAR DOWN - to intentionally destroy a building because it is no longer useful

They are going to TEAR DOWN the old school to build a new one.

3. TO TEAR AT - to rip something violently. It also means to cause agony or grief

He TEARS AT the newspaper.

Her death TORE AT his heart.


Which is the correct word in the brackets?

1. They are going to tear (up/down/from) our block of flats.

2. Please tear Tom (down/at/away) from his homework.

3. His unhappiness tears (down/up/at) my heart.

4. I don't want them to tear (up/down/across) the old market.

5. Please tear yourself (on/away/off) from your magazine and help me.


Fill in the gaps in these sentences.

1. I'll bring Alex if I can .... him .... from the tennis on TV.

2. There is a petition to try and stop them .... .... the old market in Wan Chai.

3. Why are you .... .... your old T-shirt like that?

4. Perry needs to .... himself ..... from his girlfriend's influence if he is to do better at school.

5. You will need to .... .... the packaging to see what's inside.



tear . . . away/tearing down/tearing at/tear . . . away/tear at

Young Post's language exercises won't kill you. Thomas and Mandie survived.

Thomas Li, 16

St Joseph's College

Question 2 in Task 2 doesn't make sense. Also, the word 'homework' in question 2 of Task 1 is misleading. I'm not too sure how people can be 'torn away' from homework. And as 'tear away' is usually followed by 'from', it would be helpful if there was a note in the definition saying that 'from' is the usual preposition used.

Mandie Ho, 17

TWGHs Mrs Wu York Yu Memorial College

Questions 3 and 5 in Task 2 are difficult. I'm not sure if I should put 'tearing down' or 'tearing at'. But I like paragraph 3 of the article. It is well-written and shows me how to use the phrase in sentences.