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shun
08-Oct-2003, 12:33
The Hidden Evidence: The Past Family

The present-day explanation for English tense depends much on a falsehood, hiding away the Past Family -- past time adverbials such as "in the past, in the past year, within the past two months, during the past three decades, over the past four weeks, for the past few years".

All grammar books hide away these past time adverbials for Present Perfect and then
preach that past time adverbials are not compatible with Present Perfect:
Ex: *I have seen him yesterday.
But the fact is, as we all well know, the Past Family are quite compatible with Present Perfect:
Ex: I have seen him in the past few days.

How shall we teachers tackle with this problem of hiding? Your opinion is appreciated. :?:

Casiopea
08-Oct-2003, 14:24
BE WARNED! This is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

In all fairness Mr shun Tang it'd be nice if you could mention that you have a webpage devoted to this topic and, moreover, with regards to professional courtesy, that you notify postees that their words will be copied and pasted without their consent onto said webpage as well as into the book you are presently writing.

Furthermore, given your history with the Applied Linguistics Board on Dave's ESL Cafe, postees should be warned ahead of time that Mr Tang has been tenaciously in search of the "Perfect" answer for the past 3 years and that his true goal here has nothing whatsoever to do with gaining a better understanding of the topic, but rather to find venue for his premise that native English grammarians conspire through their descriptions and definitions, such as the Present Perfect, to keep non-native speakers from actually attaining native like knowledge. :mad:

My apologies for speaking me peace. But, Mr Tang has a tendency to make people say things that stir up feelings inside of them that they particularly don't like.

shun
08-Oct-2003, 21:43
WoW! Is this true? Is Shun that good?

Tdol
08-Oct-2003, 22:17
I don't think they do hide the fact that past adverbials can be used with the present perfect- it just depends which ones; how about last week\the last week? ;-)

RonBee
08-Oct-2003, 23:35
How shall we teachers tackle with this problem of hiding? Your opinion is appreciated.

You can tackle a problem, but you can't tackle with a problem.

Thank you for appreciating my opinion.

:wink:

[Edited to add the emphasis.]

shun
09-Oct-2003, 04:43
They talk about last week, but they don't talk about in the past few weeks. It is unfortunately ture.

Besides, we use Simple Past with last week. Do you know what tense we use with for the last week? Yes, we usually use Present Perfect wiht the for the last week.

shun
09-Oct-2003, 04:51
Please double check the word tackle. It is both transitive and intransitive. Usually we use transitive; only in some ball games do we use intransitive.

However, thank you for the reminder. It is probably that I am wrong.

RonBee
09-Oct-2003, 06:25
Please double check the word tackle. It is both transitive and intransitive. Usually we use transitive; only in some ball games do we use intransitive.

However, thank you for the reminder. It is probably that I am wrong.

I am always getting those two words (transitive and intransitive) mixed up. In any case, tackle a problem is a common collocation. Tackle with is not used. It is indeed probable that you are wrong.

:)

shun
09-Oct-2003, 07:04
I agree.

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 06:33
They talk about last week, but they don't talk about in the past few weeks. It is unfortunately ture.

Besides, we use Simple Past with last week. Do you know what tense we use with for the last week? Yes, we usually use Present Perfect wiht the for the last week.

This topic has its funny sides. Students do get confused with the Perfect tenses (generally, they don't have any problem with the Continuous tenses). The reasons perhaps are:

1. Some grammarians and linguists do split hairs, others may have time on their hands, yet others may prefer to publish on "new frontiers".

2. The "incompatibility" with adverbials that denote a SPAN of time (e.g. for the past few weeks) arises, IMO, from saying that the Perfect tense indicates COMPLETION. The idea of a "completed" action sticks in the mind, and learners find it hard to reconcile this with a sentence like "I have lived in Shenyang for the past two years", or "He has been teaching French since 1984", because both are not "completed" actions but go on still.

3. "Last week" is a point of time in the past, so no problem here. "For the past week" is a span of time that goes on still, so is considered incompatible with the idea of "completed" action.

4. I define the Present Perfect tense as expressing an action that is already COMPLETED at the present time, OR an action BEGUN earlier and spanning a period to the present time. I gave this opinion in another thread on this site, talking about the Perfect Participle. IMHO, this participle expresses the aspects BEGUN and/or COMPLETED.

Sometimes (not always and always, though), I think we can/should take language less seriously so it is more fun and easier to learn. Like this couplet I posted:

Oft times you think and think and think
Alas, never still could find the link.

Do you agree?

shun
19-Oct-2003, 11:02
Jwschang,

I guess you may have confused a few things. But I sincerely hope I am wrong.

You wrote:
> I define the Present Perfect tense as expressing
> an action that is already COMPLETED at the
> present time, OR an action BEGUN earlier
> and spanning a period to the present time.
>
My reply: Please recongnize that "an action that is already COMPLETED at the present time" is a past action, for example:
Ex: I met John on the street.
== The meeting is already COMPLETED at the present time.

Also please be reminded that "an action BEGUN earlier and spanning a period to the present time" is a present action:
Ex: I live in Hong Kong.
== The living "BEGUN earlier and spanning a period to the present time", as I could not live here suddenly, and it must have begun earlier.

That is to say, you haved described Present Perfect as itself indicating either Simple Past or Simple Present. Through your merciful description, IMHO it seems that the three tenses are interchangeable, without a guideline to tell them apart.

You wrote:
> "Last week" is a point of time in the past,
> so no problem here. "For the past week"
> is a span of time that goes on still, so is
> considered incompatible with the idea of
> "completed" action.
>
My reply: Though in your message I see no restriction about tenses whatsoever, please be reminded of one common rule: Present Perfect doesn't stay with past time expression:
Ex: *I have visited there last week.
Therefore, perhaps for this reason, you didn't give illustrating examples for "for the past week":
Ex: I have visited there for the past week.
== No matter how you describe "for the past week", it is still a past time expression and is supposed not to stay with Present Perfect. Grammar writers cannot handle this, and this is the exact reason why they have to hide the Past Family away. What then is your opinion?

Casiopea
19-Oct-2003, 12:59
4. I define the Present Perfect tense as expressing an action that is already COMPLETED at the present time, OR an action BEGUN earlier and spanning a period to the present time.

That was nicely put, jws. Quite nicely, indeed. :olympic:

Like in, "I have lived in L.A. since 1999" wherein 'have lived' expresses a span of living in L.A. The span started in 1999, hence '-ed', and continues up to the present time, hence 'have'.

Mind you, continuity will vary with regards to verbs such as "read" and "die" for example.

Cas1. I have read that book.
Cas2. I have died and gone to heaven.

Unlike 'live', 'read' and 'died' do not continue up to the present. Those events are over. So, given our current definition, which I will adopt from you, we now have to deal with the question: How do you deal with verbs like "have lived", which are not over at the Present time (i.e. I have lived in L.A. since 1999 and I am still living in L.A.)?

Which brings me to my humble point. :D

It's not the action, per se, that's over, it's the timeframe that is completed (by...): *note 'completed' is a past participle; 'complete' is an adjective.

X is completed by Y (X = past time, Y = present time).

Past time starts the span, whereas Present time completes (i.e ends) the Past timeframe, not the span. Time ends, specifically Past time, and not necessarily the action subsumed within that timeframe. Hence the grammaticality of "I have lived in L.A. since 1999."

In other words, I'd put my money on (a), not (b):

Cas(a) "It (the Past timeframe) is completed (by the Present timeframe)"
Cas(b) "It (the action) is completed by (?)

What is (?) ? Learners come across this, too. (b) is a problem.

Cas :D

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 13:10
Jwschang,

I guess you may have confused a few things. But I sincerely hope I am wrong.

You wrote:
> I define the Present Perfect tense as expressing
> an action that is already COMPLETED at the
> present time, OR an action BEGUN earlier
> and spanning a period to the present time.
>

My reply: Please recongnize that "an action that is already COMPLETED at the present time" is a past action, for example:
Ex: I met John on the street.
== The meeting is already COMPLETED at the present time.
(See my reply per (4) below.)

Also please be reminded that "an action BEGUN earlier and spanning a period to the present time" is a present action:(It is a present action but not ONLY that; it tells how long since.)
Ex: I live in Hong Kong. (Do you say:"I live in HK for two years"? In Chinese or some other language, yes; in English or some other language, no.)
== The living "BEGUN earlier and spanning a period to the present time", as I could not live here suddenly, and it must have begun earlier.

That is to say, you haved described Present Perfect as itself indicating either Simple Past or Simple Present. Through your merciful (Why "merciful"? I guess it could take away some of the confusion or pain of the Perfect tenses? It's an apt word to use here, though.) description, IMHO it seems that the three tenses are interchangeable, without a guideline to tell them apart.

You wrote:
> "Last week" is a point of time in the past,
> so no problem here. "For the past week"
> is a span of time that goes on still, so is
> considered incompatible with the idea of
> "completed" action.
>
My reply: Though in your message I see no restriction about tenses whatsoever, please be reminded of one common rule: Present Perfect doesn't stay with past time expression:(I have not heard of this rule, at least not in the way that you have put it as "past time expression". Correct rule would be: Past Perfect goes with Simple Past: I had eaten when he arrived.)
Ex: *I have visited there last week.
Therefore, perhaps for this reason, you didn't give illustrating examples for "for the past week":
Ex: I have visited there for the past week. (You have given an excellent example of what I didn't see necessary to give. It fits exactly my definition of the Present Perfect.)
== No matter how you describe "for the past week", it is still a past time expression and is supposed not to stay with Present Perfect. ("For the past week" refers to a period begun in the past, not JUST a simplified "past time expression".) Grammar writers cannot handle this, and this is the exact reason why they have to hide the Past Family away. (Why do you say "hide"? We still use them, and we don't have to follow what CERTAIN books or grammarians say. That is why even grammarians do not agree on everything among themselves.) What then is your opinion?

No, I have not confused anything. (See also my comments in red, alongside what you wrote.)

1. English is not the same as, say, Chinese. In Chinese, we express an action in the past by using an additional word equivalent to "already", to say I ate or I have eaten. So, in Chinese, there is no difference between the Simple Past and the Present Perfect.

2. Past and Present tell WHEN an action happened/happens. Continuous and Perfect tell whether the action is on-going or completed/begun earlier, at that time indicated by Past or Present.

3. However, English tenses are not as "straight-forward" as described in (2) above, WHICH IS NOT UNIQUE to English (see (5) below). For example, the Present Continuous expresses an on-going action now, or an action INTENDED (like future tense), expected or about to happen.

4. Do you not see any difference between "I ate my lunch" and "I have eaten my lunch"? The latter has an emphasis of "already" (which the former does not have) without having to use that word, which in Chinese we use for any past action or completed action. Of course, one can say past is past, or completed is completed, what is there to emphasise anymore. Some people are blunt (or straight-forward) in their words, others are subtle. I'm sure you have heard of innuendoes and "reading between the lines".

5. Chinese does not use tenses. Tone, intonation and accent are an important part of communicating in Chinese. So, we can say perhaps that when words or structures are less complex, other aspects of speech take over some of these functions.

6. In centuries past, when a court minister or official speaks to the Emperor, sometimes the entire message had to be expressed in a quartet, and no more. So, words carry meanings within a context. A word for word dissection or analysis is not always applicable.

7. English used to be much more inflected in the past compared to now. For example, nouns used to be different between the subject form and the object form.

My humble opinion is:

(a) We need not make too much of what you rightly see as difficulties, lack of guidelines, or even confusion. Ordinary Chinese people (and this is not meant to sound chauvinistic) are among the most practical of people (we have philosophers too, no doubt), and are more concerned with the practicalities of making a living, which includes learning a foreign language; the ordinary person is not interested in linguistics, and has no need to be.

(b) We must try to make learning English as simple as possible. This is of course not so easy, partly because of the vast number of books and oft times differing views. Some books are good and practical, some are inadequate, some confusing and IMO unnecessarily academic. That's why we have learners asking "Who is the ultimate authority?". Certainly not me or you, nor (if I may say so) Ronbee nor TDOL, etc.

(c) For doing or learning anything, I find the 80/20 Pareto Principle very true: 80% of the value is in 20% of the content. We can leave the rest alone because we hardly need or use them.

(d) I think you write excellent English (if I may say so) and I have enjoyed talking to you. :wink:

Casiopea
19-Oct-2003, 13:48
No matter how you describe "for the past week", it is still a past time expression and is supposed not to stay with Present Perfect.

1. I've visited them for the past week (not Ok)
2. I've not visited them for the past week. (Ok)

Sentence 2. is Ok because 'not' negates the continuity expressed by the preposition 'for', which being the head of the 'past time expression' "for the past week" modifies 'have visited'.

In other words, 'not' blocks the implication that 'have visited' expresses continuity. If 'not' wasn't there to block modification from 'for...', 'for' would modify 'have visited' as expressing continuity, with the result being ungrammatical as in 1. That is, 'have visited' doesn't express continuity; but, 'have been visiting' does.

The problem is solved by making the verb continuous, as in 3, thereby making the verb and its modifier compatible, or, as you say, 'stay with'.

3. I have been visiting them for the past week. (Ok)

Cas :D

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 14:06
Cas1. I have read that book. (can we say this falls under the first part of my definition?)
Cas2. I have died and gone to heaven. (Same as above?)

Unlike 'live', 'read' and 'died' do not continue up to the present. Those events are over. So, given our current definition, which I will adopt from you, we now have to deal with the question: How do you deal with verbs like "have lived", which are not over at the Present time (i.e. I have lived in L.A. since 1999 and I am still living in L.A.)? (This falls under the second part of my definition?, which does NOT incorporate completion. I look at the aspect as Completed AND/OR Begun earlier.)

Which brings me to my humble point. :D

It's not the action, per se, that's over, it's the timeframe that is completed (by...): *note 'completed' is a past participle; 'complete' is an adjective.

X is completed by Y (X = past time, Y = present time).

Past time starts the span, whereas Present time completes (i.e ends) the Past timeframe, not the span. Time ends, specifically Past time, and not necessarily the action subsumed within that timeframe. Hence the grammaticality of "I have lived in L.A. since 1999."

In other words, I'd put my money on (a), not (b):

Cas(a) "It (the Past timeframe) is completed (by the Present timeframe)"
Cas(b) "It (the action) is completed by (?)

What is (?) ? Learners come across this, too. (b) is a problem.

Cas :D

Please see my comments in red. For the Past Perfect, I have defined it as expressing an action completed at a (not the) time in the past, or an action begun earlier and spanning a period up to a time in the past. Looks usable to me.

Also, the Present is Now, one and only specific point in time. The Past is a certain point of time (may be other points: yesterday, last night, when the cat was sitting on the roof, etc) in the past. :wink:

Casiopea
19-Oct-2003, 14:25
For the Past Perfect, I have defined it as expressing an action completed at a (not the) time in the past, or an action begun earlier and spanning a period up to a time in the past. Looks usable to me.

You've made some very interesting comments, to which I will respond as soon as I've had a chance to mull them over. :D

As for the bit above, if it's not a problem, I'd rather stick to clarifying the definition for Present Perfect before getting into the workings of the Past Perfect. Although the two share the word "Perfect", they do not necessarily share the same function. So, with that in mind, would it be too forward of me to ask that we get one definition stated clearly first before we move on to another?

Cas :D

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 14:27
No matter how you describe "for the past week", it is still a past time expression and is supposed not to stay with Present Perfect.

1. I've visited them for the past week (not Ok)
2. I've not visited them for the past week. (Ok)

Sentence 2. is Ok because 'not' negates the continuity expressed by the preposition 'for', which being the head of the 'past time expression' "for the past week" modifies 'have visited'.

In other words, 'not' blocks the implication that 'have visited' expresses continuity. If 'not' wasn't there to block modification from 'for...', 'for' would modify 'have visited' as expressing continuity, with the result being ungrammatical as in 1. That is, 'have visited' doesn't express continuity; but, 'have been visiting' does.

The problem is solved by making the verb continuous, as in 3, thereby making the verb and its modifier compatible, or, as you say, 'stay with'.

3. I have been visiting them for the past week. (Ok)

Cas :D

Nicely put, IMHO. Which gives a very nice role to the Perfect Continuous!! :wink:

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 14:42
For the Past Perfect, I have defined it as expressing an action completed at a (not the) time in the past, or an action begun earlier and spanning a period up to a time in the past. Looks usable to me.

You've made some very interesting comments, to which I will respond as soon as I've had a chance to mull them over. :D

As for the bit above, if it's not a problem, I'd rather stick to clarifying the definition for Present Perfect before getting into the workings of the Past Perfect. Although the two share the word "Perfect", they do not necessarily share the same function. So, with that in mind, would it be too forward of me to ask that we get one definition stated clearly first before we move on to another?

Cas :D

Sure. That's just to have the Past Perfect sit alongside the Present Perfect in the bus, which is taking all of us on a wonderful holiday to Dalian, where Shane is.

Wow! The man studied Chinese for six years before going off to China! I hope I have the chance to meet him.

Just a side issue: Dalian is one of the cleanest and most beautiful of Chinese cities, I'm told. It's in the northeast, on the southern coast of Liaoning province in the old Manchuria. I have yet to visit the place (supposed to have gone early this month). I just think that TDOL (whose students include Chinese), Ronbee, Red5, yourself....... should one day visit China. :)

Casiopea
19-Oct-2003, 15:53
Ok. Cas1. fits definition A. and Cas2. fits definition B.; but, that's not the humble point I was trying to make. Sorry. Lemme try again.


jws IHHO provided:

I define the Present Perfect tense as

A. expressing an action that is already COMPLETED at the present time,

OR

B. an action BEGUN earlier and spanning a period to the present time.

The A. part of the definition had me wondering, and still has me wondering what makes the Present Perfect different from the Simple Past, since we can replace the words Present Perfect with the words Simple Past:

The Simple Past tense expresses an action that is already COMPLETED at the present time.

Given that the A. definition for the Present Perfect also houses the Simple Past, how would we explain (to students) the use of the Simple Past and the Present Perfect in the sentences below? That's sort of my point.

Cas3. I ate. (finished, over, ended)
Cas4. I have eaten. (finished, over, ended)

Moreover, both 'ate' and 'eaten' are finished, over, ended. I started it and I ended it. The task was completed, if you will allow me to use that term, by me, but my use of the term 'completed' here is different from the one expressed by the conventional definition(s) for the Present Perfect. Herein is where learners, even teachers, come across the fuzzy boundary between the Present Perfect and the Simple Past. "Completed" refers to frames of time. Two timeframes to be exact, as does the Past Perfect.

In short, the word "completed" is ambiguous. In reference to the Perfect, it has nought to do with actions but rather the coming together of two separate points: time frames, if you will, the Past and the Present, as in the making of a perfect circle, and hence the origin of the grammatical term "Perfect". Given this, I wonder if we should modify our definition so as to provide a better understanding of the ambiguous term "completed".

Cas :D

p.s. I apologize in advance for any typos. (It's late.) :oops:

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 16:14
It's like TDOL explained "The polls show support for Bush....." compared to "The polls are showing...".

Between the Simple Past and the Present Perfect, the difference may not always be there (which Shun thinks is always not there!). Where it is, it is subtle (that's how I see it). The Simple Past can be more "final" than the Present Perfect. For example,

1. I enjoyed talking to you. Done, finished, over.
2. I have enjoyed talking to you. So far, could go on enjoying (if we carry on talking). Therefore, although completed (up to whatever stage), does not convey the same finality as the Simple Past. This is, I think, because the tense still brings us to (or keeps us at) the present time. The Simple Past has no connection whatsoever with the present.

Grammar is the death of me. That's why in the not too distant past, communication experts threw grammar out of the window altogether. People are better taught without grammar glue sticking like Tarzan glue, not to say the confusion caused by trying so hard to explain something that can be so subtle as human speech! They said, learn by just using, using, using.....

Grammar has returned to "fashion" because the foregoing didn't work, standards fell, etc, etc.

IMO, we have to teach basic grammar because it is a framework, foundation, reference benchmark for what's right and what's not right in order to know what WENT wrong in your sentence, and in order to MAKE sentences based on understanding of the basic rules, etc.

You'll take a long, round about, and trial and error way to build a house without.......

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 16:17
It's like TDOL explained "The polls show support for Bush....." compared to "The polls are showing...".

Between the Simple Past and the Present Perfect, the difference may not always be there (which Shun thinks is always not there!). Where it is, it is subtle (that's how I see it). The Simple Past can be more "final" than the Present Perfect. For example,

1. I enjoyed talking to you. Done, finished, over.
2. I have enjoyed talking to you. So far, could go on enjoying (if we carry on talking). Therefore, although completed (up to whatever stage), does not convey the same finality as the Simple Past. This is, I think, because the tense still brings us to (or keeps us at) the present time. The Simple Past has no connection whatsoever with the present.

Grammar is the death of me. That's why in the not too distant past, communication experts threw grammar out of the window altogether. They said people are better taught without grammar glue sticking like Tarzan glue, not to say the confusion caused by trying so hard to explain something that can be so subtle as human speech! They said, learn by just using, using, using.....

Grammar has returned to "fashion" because the foregoing didn't work, standards fell, etc, etc.

IMO, we have to teach basic grammar because it is a framework, foundation, reference benchmark for what's right and what's not right in order to know what WENT wrong in your sentence, and in order to MAKE sentences based on understanding of the basic rules, etc.

You'll take a long, round about, and trial and error way to build a house without.......

Casiopea
19-Oct-2003, 16:25
Also, the Present is Now, one and only specific point in time. The Past is a certain point of time (may be other points: yesterday, last night, when the cat was sitting on the roof, etc) in the past. :wink:

Wait a mo'. Hold that thought :D What if, that is, time were expressed differently in English? Imagine for a moment that time is a line (I know it isn't but it's a simple, albeit traditional, way of describing Tense). Along this time line, there are three divisions, Past | Present | Future. Within these divisions there are points along the line representing things like "today", "now", "last week", "yesterday", "a minute ago" and so on. Those are points in time. These points can also be connected, giving a span of time (e.g. for a week, since Monday). The divisions themselves can also connect up. Past can be connected to Present (Present Perfect) and spans within divisions can be connected (e.g. Past can be connected to Past (Past Perfect).

The way I see Time is like the structure of a three tiered chess game. One tier represents Past, another, Present, and yet another Future. The squares on the respective boards represent specific points in time (e.g. now, yesterday), which can be connected to form a span of time (e.g. since yesterday, up until now), and divisions can be connected across divisions to form events connected in time, such as the Present Perfect and the Past Perfect.

Cas :D

Apologize in advance for typos and unconventional ideas.

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 16:25
Ok. Cas1. fits definition A. and Cas2. fits definition B.; but, that's not the humble point I was trying to make. Sorry. Lemme try again.


jws IHHO provided:

I define the Present Perfect tense as

A. expressing an action that is already COMPLETED at the present time,

OR

B. an action BEGUN earlier and spanning a period to the present time.

The A. part of the definition had me wondering, and still has me wondering what makes the Present Perfect different from the Simple Past, since we can replace the words Present Perfect with the words Simple Past:

The Simple Past tense expresses an action that is already COMPLETED at the present time.(I would drop the last four words in defining the Simple Past, and I would say "an action that HAPPENED in the past (deliberately not using COMPLETED, because that's "aspect".)

Given that the A. definition for the Present Perfect also houses the Simple Past, how would we explain (to students) the use of the Simple Past and the Present Perfect in the sentences below? That's sort of my point.

Cas3. I ate. (finished, over, ended)
Cas4. I have eaten. (finished, over, ended)

Moreover, both 'ate' and 'eaten' are finished, over, ended. I started it and I ended it. The task was completed, if you will allow me to use that term, by me, but my use of the term 'completed' here is different from the one expressed by the conventional definition(s) for the Present Perfect. Herein is where learners, even teachers, come across the fuzzy boundary between the Present Perfect and the Simple Past. "Completed" refers to frames of time. Two timeframes to be exact, as does the Past Perfect.

In short, the word "completed" is ambiguous. In reference to the Perfect, it has nought to do with actions but rather the coming together of two separate points: time frames, if you will, the Past and the Present, as in the making of a perfect circle, and hence the origin of the grammatical term "Perfect". Given this, I wonder if we should modify our definition so as to provide a better understanding of the ambiguous term "completed".

Cas :D

p.s. I apologize in advance for any typos. (It's late.) :oops:

Casiopea
19-Oct-2003, 16:31
The Simple Past tense expresses an action that is already COMPLETED at the present time.


I would drop the last four words in defining the Simple Past, and I would say "an action that HAPPENED in the past (deliberately not using COMPLETED, because that's "aspect".)

Ok, but...

Given that definition, how would we explain the use of the Simple Past and the Present Perfect in the sentences below?

Cas3. I ate. (finished, over, ended)
Cas4. I have eaten. (finished, over, ended)

'ate' is an action that HAPPENED in the past :oops: "action" has got to go.

Cas :)

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 16:42
Also, the Present is Now, one and only specific point in time. The Past is a certain point of time (may be other points: yesterday, last night, when the cat was sitting on the roof, etc) in the past. :wink:

Wait a mo'. Hold that thought :D What if, that is, time were expressed differently in English? Imagine for a moment that time is a line (I know it isn't but it's a simple, albeit traditional, way of describing Tense). Along this time line, there are three divisions, Past | Present | Future. Within these divisions there are points along the line representing things like "today", "now", "last week", "yesterday", "a minute ago" and so on. Those are points in time. These points can also be connected, giving a span of time (e.g. for a week, since Monday). The divisions themselves can also connect up. Past can be connected to Present (Present Perfect) and spans within divisions can be connected (e.g. Past can be connected to Past (Past Perfect).

The way I see Time is like the structure of a three tiered chess game. One tier represents Past, another, Present, and yet another Future. The squares on the respective boards represent specific points in time (e.g. now, yesterday), which can be connected to form a span of time (e.g. since yesterday, up until now), and divisions can be connected across divisions to form events connected in time, such as the Present Perfect and the Past Perfect.

Cas :D

Apologize in advance for typos and unconventional ideas.

I think it's not unconventional, only thing being that grammarians (that's just speaking broadly and jokingly) fear treading on unfamiliar territory that is the domain of mathematicians (or graphic artists!!), such as graphical representation of an idea.

I agree with you entirely. Perhaps because I had studied the "pure" sciences (but still ended up as a finance/accounting person!), some of my thinking is in graphic terms. I had thought of using the horizontal line (great minds think alike) to pictorise the explanation of tenses, but I have decided very decidedly not to, because experts will look on it not just with disdain but total consternation!! And my poor text will be still-born, looking more like a book on geometry!!!

Casiopea
19-Oct-2003, 16:43
Sure. That's just to have the Past Perfect sit alongside the Present Perfect in the bus, which is taking all of us on a wonderful holiday to Dalian, where Shane is.

It sure is, isn't? :D


Wow! The man studied Chinese for six years before going off to China! I hope I have the chance to meet him.

Amazing! I've heard Chinese is somewhat difficult given it's a tone language, not to mention that fact that it takes a body 18 or so years just to get the kanji down. Is that true? I'm in Japan, and I gotta tell ya, I've been studying kanji for going on 4 years now, which means to say I know about as much kanji as a fourth grader in elementary school :oops: T'morrow I am giving a speech in Japanese to the Mayor and the City council, and I gotta tell ya, I'm shaking' in me boots just thinking about it. My hat goes off to Shane!


Just a side issue: Dalian is one of the cleanest and most beautiful of Chinese cities, I'm told. It's in the northeast, on the southern coast of Liaoning province in the old Manchuria. I have yet to visit the place (supposed to have gone early this month). I just think that TDOL (whose students include Chinese), Ronbee, Red5, yourself....... should one day visit China. :)

Dalian sounds wonderfully peaceful, not to mention eye staging gorgeous. I'm considering a trip soon. Japan ain't that far away from China. :D I had Chinese speaking students in Canada. They taught me a few words--I just can't seem to get around the dialects, though. When I greet someone in Mandarin, for example, they reply in Cantonese :roll: Ni haw ma? Shei shei lee How'dya like my Chinese :shock:

Cas :D

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 16:53
Ok, but...

Given that definition, how would we explain the use of the Simple Past and the Present Perfect in the sentences below?

Cas3. I ate. (finished, over, ended)
Cas4. I have eaten. (finished, over, ended)

'ate' is an action that HAPPENED in the past :oops: "action" has got to go. (I don't understand what you mean by "action" has got to go.)

Cas :)

No difference. That's what I meant by saying that the difference may not ALWAYS be there between the two tenses. Which is very true, because we often have a choice of saying the same thing in more than one way.

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 17:09
Wow! The man studied Chinese for six years before going off to China! I hope I have the chance to meet him.

Amazing! I've heard Chinese is somewhat difficult given it's a tone language, not to mention that fact that it takes a body 18 or so years just to get the kanji down. Is that true? I'm in Japan, and I gotta tell ya, I've been studying kanji(What's kanji? All I know is Japanese is subject-object-verb, like "I fish eat".) for going on 4 years now, which means to say I know about as much kanji as a fourth grader in elementary school :oops: T'morrow I am giving a speech in Japanese to the Mayor and the City council, and I gotta tell ya, I'm shaking' in me boots just thinking about it. (Not so bad, give my regards to them!) My hat goes off to Shane!


Dalian sounds wonderfully peaceful, not to mention eye staging gorgeous. I'm considering a trip soon. Japan ain't that far away from China. :D I had Chinese speaking students in Canada. They taught me a few words--I just can't seem to get around the dialects, though.(Don't worry about dialects. Every Chinese (99.9%) understands Putonghua, i.e. "Mandarin".) When I greet someone in Mandarin, for example, they reply in Cantonese :roll: Ni haw ma? Shei shei lee How'dya like my Chinese :shock: (Nope, not Cantonese but excellent Mandarin, though in Hanyu Pinyin (romanized Chinese) its Ni hao ma? Xie xie ni.)

Cas :D

shun
19-Oct-2003, 17:53
I wrote an ordinary example:
Ex: I live in Hong Kong.

You answered: (Do you say:"I live in HK for two years"? In Chinese or some other language, yes; in English or some other language, no.)

My reply: "I live in Hong Kong" is grammatical in English.
Both the structures are alright:
Ex: I live in Hong Kong.
Ex: I have lived in Hong Kong for two years.
Both are "an action BEGUN earlier and spanning a period to the present time".

That is to say, your definition for Present Perfect collides with Simple Present.

-----------------
I sincerely reminded you:
Present Perfect doesn't stay with past time expression:
Ex: *I have visited there last week.

You answered: (I have not heard of this rule, at least not in the way that you have put it as "past time expression". Correct rule would be: Past Perfect goes with Simple Past: I had eaten when he arrived.)

My reply: Let it be written: You have not heard of this rule.

Red5
19-Oct-2003, 18:12
Shun

I have visited your site and I must inform you that if you copy any of our material and post up copies of messages and replies there that will be in breach of copyright.

I cannot let you use this site for that purpose. If you do so you will be banned from visiting usingenglish.com at all.

jwschang
19-Oct-2003, 18:14
I sincerely reminded you:
Present Perfect doesn't stay with past time expression:(It means you can't make a sentence such as "I have eaten when you arrived". So the rule is: You don't use the Present Perfect with the Simple Past (not "past time expression"); you can use the Past Perfect with the Simple Past: "I had eaten when you arrived.)
Ex: *I have visited there last week.


My reply: Let it be written: You have not heard of this rule.

The rule is there in red.

Casiopea
20-Oct-2003, 02:03
I think it's not unconventional, only thing being that grammarians (that's just speaking broadly and jokingly) fear treading on unfamiliar territory that is the domain of mathematicians (or graphic artists!!), such as graphical representation of an idea.

Well, actually, linguists view language as non-linear and, morever, descibe language by using non-linear models and mathematical notations and illustrate them using graphic software. :D We've come a long way babe.


I had thought of using the horizontal line (great minds think alike) to pictorise the explanation of tenses, but I have decided very decidedly not to, because experts will look on it not just with disdain but total consternation!! And my poor text will be still-born, looking more like a book on geometry!!!

In terms of a linear explanation, I agree whole heartedly with you on that point. Describing Tense in terms of a lineal model, a line, is unconventional, and hence my noted advanced apology.

Cas :)

Casiopea
20-Oct-2003, 02:22
Casiopea wrote:


Cas3. I ate. (finished, over, ended)
Cas4. I have eaten. (finished, over, ended)

'ate' is an action that HAPPENED in the past :oops: "action" has got to go.

jws replied:

I don't understand what you mean by "action" has got to go


We need to delete or change the word "action" in part A of our definition. Otherwise, it defines the Perfect and the Simple Past as having no difference:

Definition Part A. Present Perfect expresses an action that is already COMPLETED at the present time.

jws added:

No difference. That's what I meant by saying that the difference may not ALWAYS be there between the two tenses. Which is very true, because we often have a choice of saying the same thing in more than one way.

Well, not necessarily. Just because a given speaker, native or non-native, feels there is no difference between, say, "I ate" and "I have eaten" doesn't prove they are the same. That is, the similarity is apparent only. Both actions ended, finished, are over. They seem similar, don't they, but they aren't.

The Present Perfect expresses continuity, or what you've referred to as "spanning", I believe, whereas the Simple Past does not. So in that respect, the Simple Past is not like the Present Perfect. So, even though it may not be apparent on the surface, speakers use the two in different ways.

If, let's say, someone asks us to explain when to use "I have eaten", and we give them the A. part of our definition, they may ask, 'Well, then, if Present Perfect refers to an action that happened in the past, what then is the difference between "I have eaten" and "I ate"?"

Would we add, "Oh, well, there's a B. part to the definition, re: "spanning". So, 'ate' and 'eaten' are the same with regards to being finished, over, happened, and differ with regards to "spanning". 'have eaten' spans, whereas 'ate' does not. Ok, well, that fits nicely.

But, and here's the rub, the same explanation does not hold true for all verbs. Consider 'lived' and 'have lived. One ended, the other has not. In other words, to explain 'have eaten' we have to use both A. and B. parts of our definitions. To explain 'have lived', on the other hand, we can only use the B. part of the definition. That is, "Perfect" refers to ? being completed, so why isn't 'have lived' completed? a learner may ask.

If we view 'completed' as referring to an action, learners, then, have to know which verbs (actions) fit into part A. and B. and which verbs fit only into part B. That's what Shun means when he says that grammarians hide away. What he means, simply put, is that the definitions don't make any sense. And he's right. They are somewhat complex (i.e. A & B, but only B in some cases), but, and here's where Shun and I disagree, he believes grammarians use complex definitions so as to mask a lack of understanding of the Perfect. In other words, Shun strongly feels that grammarians don't know what they are talking about, but since they are authorities they have to make it look good, so they use complex language, hoping that the average Joe won't question them and 'find them out, as Shun is known to say.

And, I don't need to tell you, given our present definition for the Present Perfect, we're in agreement with him. He loves this stuff. It fuels his fire. And rightly so. We're wrong. He is right about our definition. We need to take a step back and rework it. Not because we want to prove Shun wrong, that's neither here nor there. So we ourselves can gain a clearer insight into the issues as well as be able to offer learners, especially our students a better understanding of how to use the Present Perfect.

Describing the Present Perfect by using A and B parts of a definition is rather uneconomical not to mention somewhat suspect. We need to define X as X, not as X and Y, as does part A. of our definition. Something in the Present Perfect's definition has to be deleted, or changed (i.e. 'has to go) so as to differentiate its function (Present Perfect) from that of Y's function (the Simple Past). I humbly suggested the word "action" go.

Cas :D

Sorry for typos and whathaveyouz. I'm on lunch and in a mad dash.
Looking delightfully forward, as always, to your insightful reply.

Casiopea
20-Oct-2003, 03:15
A jws quote:

You'll take a long, round about, and trial and error way to build a house without.......

I luv that saying, jws! :D :D :D :D :D

shun
20-Oct-2003, 05:10
Jwschang,

The more it is fixed, the more it looks bad.

The rule is very basic that Present Perfect cannot stay with past time expressions:
Ex: *I have visited there last week.
I have both explanation and example, so there will be no room for misunderstanding. Even a beginner in studying English tenses has to learn this.
And surprisingly you claimed you have not heard of this rule.

Now you wanted to fix it up:
> It means you can't make a sentence such as
> "I have eaten when you arrived". So the rule
> is: You don't use the Present Perfect with the
> Simple Past (not "past time expression")
>
My reply: "Past time expressions" are like yesterday, last week, last year, etc., and are including "when you arrived", thus explaining also your example "I have eaten when you arrived".
Please visit the following page about tenses if you have time:
You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with time expressions such as "yesterday," "one year ago," "last week," "when I was a chlid," "when I lived in Japan," "at that moment," "that day" or "one day."
== http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/presentperfect.html

You fix your slip by twist the common rule into "You don't use the Present Perfect with the Simple Past (not "past time expression")". It is incorrect. There is no rule to forbid the two tenses working together:
Ex: I have lived here since we parted.
Ex: Their ancestors wrote many instructions that have helped them a lot today.
Ex: He claimed that he has never seen the picture.

I am afraid you need to upgrade the version of you fixture.

shun
20-Oct-2003, 05:13
Shun

I have visited your site and I must inform you that if you copy any of our material and post up copies of messages and replies there that will be in breach of copyright.

I cannot let you use this site for that purpose. If you do so you will be banned from visiting usingenglish.com at all.

Points taken.

Casiopea
20-Oct-2003, 06:14
All grammar books...preach that past time adverbials are not compatible with [the] Present Perfect:

Ex: *I have seen him yesterday.

But the fact is, as we all well know, the Past Family (i.e. 'past time adverbials') are quite compatible with [the] Present Perfect:

Ex: I have seen him in the past few days.


Well, you know,

Ex: I have seen him (jogging) in the past few days.

has an omitted present participle. I added 'jog', but it could be any number of words; that is, 'in the past...' is compatible with '-ing', not 'have seen', hence the grammaticality.

Even though the participle ('-ing') is not there on the surface for the naked eye to see, it's there underlyingly as part 'n parcel of 'have seen''s semantic make-up:

I've seen you (do something) under the bridge at night.
I've seen you (doing something) under the bridge at night.

Would you have other example sentences wherein the Present Perfect is compatible with 'past time adverbials'? Because the one gave is solved.

Cas :D

shun
20-Oct-2003, 06:57
Casiopea,


Even though the participle ('-ing') is not there on the surface for the naked eye to see, it's there underlyingly......

My reply: If we don't depend on what we can see, how can I know if there are how many words there underlying:
Ex: I've seen you (doing something) under the bridge at night (I am joking, as I see nothing at nights, especially under the bridge). :wink:

It is not a kind of solution. If it were, we may even say:
Ex: I have seen him yesterday.
Because we may still give underlying implication:
Ex: I have seen him (jogging) yesterday. :lol:

jwschang
20-Oct-2003, 07:39
Jwschang,

The more it is fixed, the more it looks bad.

The rule is very basic that Present Perfect cannot stay with past time expressions:
Ex: *I have visited there last week.
I have both explanation and example, so there will be no room for misunderstanding. Even a beginner in studying English tenses has to learn this.
And surprisingly you claimed you have not heard of this rule.

Now you wanted to fix it up:
> It means you can't make a sentence such as
> "I have eaten when you arrived". So the rule
> is: You don't use the Present Perfect with the
> Simple Past (not "past time expression")
>
My reply: "Past time expressions" are like yesterday, last week, last year, etc., and are including "when you arrived", thus explaining also your example "I have eaten when you arrived".
Please visit the following page about tenses if you have time:
You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with time expressions such as "yesterday," "one year ago," "last week," "when I was a chlid," "when I lived in Japan," "at that moment," "that day" or "one day."
== http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/presentperfect.html(a viewpoint, doesn't make it a rule.)

You fix your slip by twist the common rule into "You don't use the Present Perfect with the Simple Past (not "past time expression")". It is incorrect. There is no rule to forbid the two tenses working together:
Ex: I have lived here since we parted. (The difference is obvious, between "since" as used here, and "when" used in "I had eaten when he arrived"; both are conjunctions but one is a different time from the main clause, the other is simultaneous.)
Ex: Their ancestors wrote many instructions that have helped them a lot today. (a clause of consequence.)
Ex: He claimed that he has never seen the picture. (a noun clause.)

I am afraid you need to upgrade the version of you fixture.

1. See my comments in red.
2. When something is generally accepted or followed, it becomes a "rule"; otherwise it remains a proposition or viewpoint. Your opening post said "..ALL grammar books hide away the past time adverbials.." You were trying too hard here.
3. Rules are based on both reasoning and something most of us know as common sense. They are not to be applied blindly and ACROSS THE BOARD, without UNDERSTANDING the application of the rule and the contexts applicable.
4. I have said that one should take context into account in a previous post to you in this very thread: "Words carry meaning within a context. A word for word dissection or analysis is not always applicable".
5. The context of the 'rule' that the Present Perfect is not used with the Simple Past has not been detailed to you, but you appear very determined not only to prove your point but somewhat belligerent and very angry with people for "hiding" things and promoting "falsehoods" (very strong words which may land you in serious trouble). You were given time to think objectively about that 'rule' that I stated (and learned) to look at all sides of the coin.
6. The "rule" that the Present Perfect is used only with the Simple Past has to be and IS applied in the relevant context. Students are correctly taught (as I was taught too) that when two actions happen at the same time, you cannot use the Present Perfect with the Simple Past (in "I had eaten when he arrived", completion of eating and arrival are simultaneous).
7. I shall leave the matter here, whether or not you re-think about it.
8. I saw the warning in this thread about your "crusade", but several of us nevertheless accommodated you in good faith.
8. One last word to you, Shun. You used words like "twist" to describe my replies (which I gave as a friend on the forum). I shall not ask you for an apology, but warn you that you are not only NOT contributing to this FRIENDLY forum by your use of words and lack of respect for others and for yourself, but verging very close to breaking its rules and etiquette (please read the rules if you wish to continue). Think about my advice and you'll be a better person. :wink:

jwschang
20-Oct-2003, 10:26
I think it's not unconventional, only thing being that grammarians (that's just speaking broadly and jokingly) fear treading on unfamiliar territory that is the domain of mathematicians (or graphic artists!!), such as graphical representation of an idea.

Well, actually, linguists view language as non-linear and, morever, descibe language by using non-linear models and mathematical notations and illustrate them using graphic software. :D We've come a long way babe. (I've been overtaken by tecnology.... oh technology, technology, abused and disabused!) :lol:


Cas :)

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. :lol:

jwschang
20-Oct-2003, 10:49
Casiopea wrote:


Cas3. I ate. (finished, over, ended)
Cas4. I have eaten. (finished, over, ended)

'ate' is an action that HAPPENED in the past :oops: "action" has got to go.

jws replied:

I don't understand what you mean by "action" has got to go


We need to delete or change the word "action" in part A of our definition. Otherwise, it defines the Perfect and the Simple Past as having no difference: [Sometimes there's a difference (as in the "enjoyed talking" example), sometimes maybe no (as in the "ate" example).]

Definition Part A. Present Perfect expresses an action that is already COMPLETED at the present time.

jws added:

No difference. That's what I meant by saying that the difference may not ALWAYS be there between the two tenses. Which is very true, because we often have a choice of saying the same thing in more than one way.

Well, not necessarily. Just because a given speaker, native or non-native, feels there is no difference between, say, "I ate" and "I have eaten" doesn't prove they are the same. That is, the similarity is apparent only. Both actions ended, finished, are over. They seem similar, don't they, but they aren't. (Agreed. I may see no difference, someone else may see or mean a difference.)



1. I think most (all??, including scientific ones?) definitions will have limitations. If we apply the Pareto Principle, it may be good enough that the definition covers the main gist; I think it cannot be completely comprehensive. Exceptions, specific contexts, etc will have to be dealt with by qualification, illustrations, etc.
2. Trouble is, many students like "clear" rules, so the teacher is hard-pressed on this, to avoid confusing the student.
3. I try to keep it simple (where possible) and "stupid". If the learner can first learn to use the language WITH mistakes but generally correctly, then the refinement comes later and gradually. Some educators may disagree with this viewpoint, like saying old habits die hard.

Casiopea
20-Oct-2003, 11:35
Casiopea explained:

EX: "I have seen him (inging) in the past week"

Even though the participle ('-ing') is not there on the surface for the naked eye to see, it's there underlyingly as part 'n parcel of the verb's meaning.

Shun replied:

If we [can't] depend on what we can['t] see, how can I know if there are how many words there underlying:

Cas Ex: I've seen you (doing something) under the bridge at night

(I am joking, as I see nothing at nights, especially under the bridge). :wink:

Ok. That's pretty funny :D , I gotta admit. Joking aside for the moment, though, you've asked a very good question: How do we know what's been omitted? I agree. It's difficult to learn how to use a language when speakers consistently leave out words, the meaning of which they know intuitively and hence the reason for leaving them out. (English, by the way, is not the only culprit there, lemme tell ya :( ). For speakers who lack that intuitive knowledge, or native like knowledge, there are ways to gaining it. One of which is studying a language's grammar: Knowing things like the structure of verbs for example, tells us a lot about what's underlying, what can be omitted, and why speaker's omit words.

Take the fact that 'have seen' takes a gerund or an infinitive as its object, and, moreover, that the meaning of that object is inherent within the verb (part n' parcel) and so it can be omitted from the sentence without changing the meaning of 'have seen'.

Knowing the function and distribution of any given part word or phrase, provides us with a better understanding as to why a sentence like "I have seen him in the past" appears to negate the rules. It doesn't negate the rule; it nicely supports it. Present participles and "for the past week" both express continuity and so the reason why they are compatible. The main verb 'have seen' is not compatible with "for the past week", which is where you and I agree. So you have proven Grammarians right :D : 'past time adverbials' are not compatible with Present Perfect verb forms, which you've kindly proven, once more, with your last examples:

Shun added:


Ex: I have seen him yesterday.
Ex: I have seen him (jogging) yesterday.

Both of the sentences above are ungrammatical. The 'past time adverbial' "yesterday" is not compatible with Present Perfect verb forms, just as da' Man said, nor is it compatible with Present Participles, 'ing'. One expresses continuity, whereas the other does not.

Cas :D

Casiopea
20-Oct-2003, 11:47
Jws's 8th point to Shun:

8. One last word to you, Shun. You used words like "twist" to describe my replies (which I gave as a friend on the forum). I shall not ask you for an apology, but warn you that you are not only NOT contributing to this FRIENDLY forum by your use of words and lack of respect for others and for yourself, but verging very close to breaking its rules and etiquette (please read the rules if you wish to continue). Think about my advice and you'll be a better person. :wink:

I don't know what to say first: "Ohmygawd, I'm having a flashback :puppydog: , get me my pills :drinking: ", or "Pass the popcorn :popcorn: , would'ja?, 'cause I've seen this part before and happily-ever-after Disney style ain't where it's headed.

Cas :roll:

Casiopea
20-Oct-2003, 11:55
You are just too cute for words, jws.

Whisper: Between me, you, and the fence post, them there words below are not mine. :D


[quote="Casiopea"][quote]I think it's not unconventional, only thing being that grammarians (that's just speaking broadly and jokingly) fear treading on unfamiliar territory that is the domain of mathematicians (or graphic artists!!), such as graphical representation of an idea.

Cas :D

shun
20-Oct-2003, 13:51
Cas,


Present participles and "for the past week" both express continuity and so the reason why they are compatible. The main verb 'have seen' is not compatible with "for the past week", which is where you and I agree. :shock:

I doubt that. "For the past week" is a member of the Past Family, which are compatible with Present Perfect:
Ex: They have stayed in this hotel for the past week.
== The structure is perfectly alright. :o

This is the reason I asked about the Past Family. I am afraid I can't agree "The main verb 'have seen' is not compatible with "for the past week." :? :?

shun
20-Oct-2003, 14:08
Cas wrote:

EX: "I have seen him (inging) in the past week"
Even though the participle ('-ing') is not there on the surface for the naked eye to see, it's there underlyingly as part 'n parcel of the verb's meaning.

My reply: I still don't like the solution. Compare:
Ex1: "I have seen him in the past week"
Ex2: "I have seen him (jogging) in the past week."
As we see, in Ex1, "in the past week" modifies the subject I.
In Ex2, it modifies the object HIM.

Most of all, I cannot pretend the time phrase modifies something I cannot see.
:cry: :cry:

shane
20-Oct-2003, 14:42
Sure. That's just to have the Past Perfect sit alongside the Present Perfect in the bus, which is taking all of us on a wonderful holiday to Dalian, where Shane is.

Wow! The man studied Chinese for six years before going off to China! I hope I have the chance to meet him.

Just a side issue: Dalian is one of the cleanest and most beautiful of Chinese cities, I'm told. It's in the northeast, on the southern coast of Liaoning province in the old Manchuria. I have yet to visit the place (supposed to have gone early this month). I just think that TDOL (whose students include Chinese), Ronbee, Red5, yourself....... should one day visit China. :)

Er...I've just popped my head round the door to see what's going on. Don't mind me! This conversation is far too complicated for me to comprehend! :shock:

Anyways, if any of you plan to come to Dalian, let me know, and I'll be waiting with a cold beer. :D

</closes door quietly on the way out>

shane
20-Oct-2003, 14:50
Dalian sounds wonderfully peaceful, not to mention eye staging gorgeous. I'm considering a trip soon. Japan ain't that far away from China. :D I had Chinese speaking students in Canada. They taught me a few words--I just can't seem to get around the dialects, though. When I greet someone in Mandarin, for example, they reply in Cantonese :roll: Ni haw ma? Shei shei lee How'dya like my Chinese :shock:

Cas :D

Hey, nice Chinese Cas! I have a friend over there in Japan, he moved there with his Japanese bride last month. He's also studying Japanese. Studying Asian languages is very hard, isn't it? Nowadays I don't write much, I prefer to type Chinese characters instead. I know - I'm lazy. :P

Feel free to come to Dalian and have a look around; you won't regret it! Oh, and you might want to have a look at my website. I updated it, and there are lots of newer pictures on there now! :D

jwschang
20-Oct-2003, 16:18
You are just too cute for words, jws.
Whisper: Between me, you, and the fence post, them there words below are not mine. :D
Cas :D

Through my fault, through my most grevious fault.

I just saw Shane's post. As he says, you won't regret visiting Dalian. From the photos on his site, he must be having a satisfying time there. Perhaps, after you've finished with what you're doing in Japan, you might want to teach in China. The people are generally friendly and courteous to foreigners. Even if you don't speak Chinese, you'll probably get lots of help. I guess it's the same in Japan.

Are we turning this into a chat room, on non-English issues!! :wink:

jwschang
20-Oct-2003, 16:30
Feel free to come to Dalian and have a look around; you won't regret it! Oh, and you might want to have a look at my website. I updated it, and there are lots of newer pictures on there now! :D

Hi Shane. Read about you in the members' intro and just saw the photos on your site. They look great! I may be visiting Dalian in spring. I live in Singapore and have just joined this site, and am a @@@@ accountant who likes to teach English to Chinese-speakers! I visit China fairly regularly and hope you find it a nice place and its people too.
Cheers!

shane
20-Oct-2003, 17:20
Hi Shane. Read about you in the members' intro and just saw the photos on your site. They look great! I may be visiting Dalian in spring. I live in Singapore and have just joined this site, and am a @@@@ accountant who likes to teach English to Chinese-speakers! I visit China fairly regularly and hope you find it a nice place and its people too.
Cheers!

Hi jws (there has to be a better way of addressing you than that! ;) ), I'm glad you like my photos.

I have to say, I am impressed with your knowledge of English and English grammar - you put me to shame :oops:

If you do come to Dalian in the spring, let me know, and we can hook up for a beer. :D

Shane

Tdol
20-Oct-2003, 22:04
J? ;-)

jwschang
21-Oct-2003, 05:58
Hi jws (there has to be a better way of addressing you than that! ;) ), I'm glad you like my photos.

I have to say, I am impressed with your knowledge of English and English grammar - you put me to shame :oops:

If you do come to Dalian in the spring, let me know, and we can hook up for a beer. :D

Shane

Hi Shane and TDOL

The J's for Justin, the WS is my Chinese name = Wen Seung (Hanyu Pinyin = Wen Xiong, wen as in word or writing, xiong as in male).

I grew up with English (as a big number did in Singapore and Malaysia). In singapore, it has always been English as the instruction medium. In Malaysia, it was changed to Malay, as a result of which the standard of English has fallen very sharply. We had good teachers of the language; I'm not in touch with the situation now (ain't a student nomore!) but in Singapore it's still good, I think.

Not as a compliment but the truth, Shane, your Chinese would be much better than mine. My grand-dad came from Guangdong province in the south, and I spoke mostly Cantonese (it has six tones, compared to Putonghua's four). Until about three years ago, my Putonghua was pretty poor. In 1995, when I made my first visit to China, I needed an interpreter at a meeting!!! Now its not too bad, but very little still when it comes to writing.

I have this kind of glad feeling when I see foreigners visiting China, and perhaps more so where they go there to teach English. I think it can build a lot of bridges between people. It'd be good, for example, if TDOL as a teacher could visit China and we'll all have a beer on Shane in Dalian!

When I read JNSummer's postings, I thought of what my friends in China tell me: Some of the school kids (as young as 12 or 13) can be pretty unruly, and the really difficult ones (including girls) can even beat up their local teachers. Some are spoilt and arrogant, because, say, their dad is some government official or big-short. I understand that this was more prevalent in the North than in the South. I hear that things have improved vastly over the last decade.

Cheers. :)

shane
21-Oct-2003, 11:17
When I read JNSummer's postings, I thought of what my friends in China tell me: Some of the school kids (as young as 12 or 13) can be pretty unruly, and the really difficult ones (including girls) can even beat up their local teachers. Some are spoilt and arrogant, because, say, their dad is some government official or big-short. I understand that this was more prevalent in the North than in the South. I hear that things have improved vastly over the last decade.

Cheers. :)

I'm pleased to report that I've never run into any situation like the one you have described!! ;)

RonBee
21-Oct-2003, 13:39
Please pardon the interruption, but the phrase is big shot. (You could also say head cheese, but that has a different flavor to it.)

(Sorry for the interruption, but that is about the only kind of contribution I can make to this thread.)

:wink:

[Edited to note that JWS's phrase was probably a typo anyhow.]

jwschang
21-Oct-2003, 14:04
Please pardon the interruption, but the phrase is big shot. (You could also say head cheese, but that has a different flavor to it.)

(Sorry for the interruption, but that is about the only kind of contribution I can make to this thread.)

:wink:

[Edited to note that JWS's phrase was probably a typo anyhow.]

Yea, can't be big and short at the same time, unless sideways. :)

RonBee
21-Oct-2003, 14:10
He was a big-short person: 4 feet tall and 310 pounds.

:D

Casiopea
21-Oct-2003, 17:44
Cas:


The main verb 'have seen' is not compatible with "for the past week", which is where you and I agree. :shock:


Shun:

I doubt that. "For the past week" is a member of the Past Family, which are compatible with Present Perfect:

Ex: They have stayed in this hotel for the past week.

== The structure is perfectly alright. :o

Yes. It's perfectly fine. :D Have you checked the verb's semantic structure? The use of the participle 'stayed' is synonymous with 'been', meaning existed, which expresses continuity in the past, and the reason it's compatible with 'for the past week'.

Contiunuity is inherent in the word "stay", no matter its form. Be it a verb "to stay" or a participle "stayed". 'stayed' is compatible with "for the past week" because both express inherent continuity.

Would you have another example or examples? Id like to continue testing whether compatibility is related to contunity or not.

Cas :D

Casiopea
21-Oct-2003, 18:23
Cas explained:

Well, not necessarily. Just because a given speaker, native or non-native, feels there is no difference between, say, "I ate" and "I have eaten" doesn't prove they are the same. That is, the similarity is apparent only. Both actions ended, finished, are over. They seem similar, don't they, but they aren't.

Jws added:

Agreed. I may see no difference, someone else may see or mean a difference.

That's a very good point. Consider,

Alex: Have you eaten yet today?
Sam: Yes. I ate today.

'have eaten' and 'ate' appear to be synonymous. :D

Jws,

1. I think most (all??, including scientific ones?) definitions will have limitations. If we apply the Pareto Principle, it may be good enough that the definition covers the main gist; I think it cannot be completely comprehensive. Exceptions, specific contexts, etc will have to be dealt with by qualification, illustrations, etc.

Ain't that the gawd's honest truth! However, the present definition hasn't come close to covering the 'gist', as Shun's examples attest to.

Jws:

2. Trouble is, many students like "clear" rules, so the teacher is hard-pressed on this, to avoid confusing the student.

Yup. Been there, done that! Teachers, like books, don't have all the answers. That's why it's often a good idea to tell students as much as we know. Tell students, "Hey, here's the gist so far." Problem is, the present definitions don't get the gist right.

Jws:

3. I try to keep it simple (where possible) and "stupid". If the learner can first learn to use the language WITH mistakes but generally correctly, then the refinement comes later and gradually. Some educators may disagree with this viewpoint, like saying old habits die hard.

I agree. Learn as you go. Learning is but a process.

Cas :D

jwschang
21-Oct-2003, 20:30
He was a big-short person: 4 feet tall and 310 pounds.

:D

Big shot, head cheese, top dog, head honcho, numero uno, what else?

jwschang
22-Oct-2003, 05:45
Jws,

1. I think most (all??, including scientific ones?) definitions will have limitations. If we apply the Pareto Principle, it may be good enough that the definition covers the main gist; I think it cannot be completely comprehensive. Exceptions, specific contexts, etc will have to be dealt with by qualification, illustrations, etc.

Ain't that the gawd's honest truth! However, the present definition hasn't come close to covering the 'gist', as Shun's examples attest to.
Cas :D

Shall we continue discussing definitions under a fresh topic/new thread? This thread has got kind of long, and the original heading's not appropriate to what's here. :P

Casiopea
22-Oct-2003, 08:50
He was a big-short person: 4 feet tall and 310 pounds.

:D

Big shot, head cheese, top dog, head honcho, numero uno, what else?

Red 5

shun
22-Oct-2003, 10:42
Cas explained:


Well, not necessarily. Just because a given speaker, native or non-native, feels there is no difference between, say, "I ate" and "I have eaten" doesn't prove they are the same. That is, the similarity is apparent only. Both actions ended, finished, are over. They seem similar, don't they, but they aren't.

Do we eat dinner? Yes, we do, always do. But how come we sometimes say "I ate / have eaten dinner"? I don't eat dinner anymore? No, I will keep eating dinner every day. But why do we sometimes say "I ate / have eaten dinner"? I can't figure how to explain it. Would you help?

shun
22-Oct-2003, 10:59
Shun wrote:

I doubt that. "For the past week" is a member of the Past Family, which are compatible with Present Perfect:
Ex: They have stayed in this hotel for the past week.
== The structure is perfectly alright. :lol:

Cas answered:

Yes. It's perfectly fine. :P Have you checked the verb's semantic structure? The use of the participle 'stayed' is synonymous with 'been', meaning existed, which expresses continuity in the past, and the reason it's compatible with 'for the past week'.

My reply: I guess you missed my point. :puppydog: But it is because my bad expression. :oops: :oops: What I wanted to say is, "for the past week" is a past time expression, why shall it stay with Present Perfect? :roll: :roll:

Tdol
22-Oct-2003, 15:53
For the past\last week is an unfinished time period that began 7 days ago and continues up to the present. It is not the same as 'last week', which is finished. ;-)

shun
22-Oct-2003, 16:34
Thank you Tdol.
You wrote:

For the past\last week is an unfinished time period that began 7 days ago and continues up to the present. It is not the same as 'last week', which is finished.

My reply: I hope people here can understand this: I agree to you that it is an unfinished time. I know very well. :cry:
But please answer a straight question: Is it a past time adverbial or not? If it has an adjective 'past', how can we say it is a present or future time adverbial? I myself cannot do it, so do all other grammar writers. And therefore all grammar writers will not talk about examples like I have posted at first:
Ex1: I have seen him in the past few days.
It is because we all know Present Perfect cannot stay with past time adverbials:
Ex2: *I have seen him yesterday.

If you can help explain "in the past few years" is a present or future adverbial, then you will have helped me, and many grammar writers, and most of all, many students. If not, we can only keep cheating our students reluctantly and helplessly. :eggface:

Do you know what the situation now is? Because "in the past few years" looks clearly like a past time adverbial, many students in Asia are using Simple Past to say it:
Ex3: ?I saw him in the past few days. :oops: :oops: :oops:
== We don't even have a grammar book to explain to them. Even worse, many Asia teachers themselves mostly use Ex3. They are bad. But whose fault it is? :oops: :oops: :?

Is it very hard to understand what I am saying and begging? :agrue:

Casiopea
22-Oct-2003, 16:52
Shun:
I guess you missed my point. :puppydog: But it is because my bad expression. :oops: :oops: What I wanted to say is, "for the past week" is a past time expression, why shall it stay with Present Perfect? :roll: :roll:

Well, there's more to a sentence than its parts. We need to look at how the parts function together and as a whole.

Your example sentences are fabulous! Truly. They appear to buck the general rule. But, and here's a hurdle we need to overcome, just because a given sentence doesn't appear to satisfy the rule, doesn't necessarily mean the rule is faulty. That is, it may be a case of 'hidden evidence' that we, the reader, not the rule writer, have overlooked. For example, guess what's hidden in:

:D I have seen him in the past week.

We know the sentence above doesn't fit the rule we're given; that rule being something like, 'past time expressions', specifically adverials, are incompatible with Present Perfect verbs. In other words, don't use adverbs expressing Past time to modify have -ed/-en verbs.

:( I have seen him yesterday.


But, we hear native speakers using adverbs like "in the past" to modify have -ed/-en verbs,

:D I have seen him in the past week.

so we wonder, "What's with that? Who's the authority here? The rule writers or the native speakers? Who do I trust? How can I learn English if people keep changing the rules? It's frustrating!

Well, the answer is always hidden in the question asked. The original question was something like "Why do they hide...?" If we take another look at one our example sentences, say

:D I have seen him in the past week.

we'll notice that (1) it's grammatical, and (2) that if it's grammatical there must be (a) something wrong with the rule and/or (b) something wrong with the way we are analysing the sentence.

Let's give the rule writer the benefit of the doubt for the present time since s/he has way more knowledge about the topic than we have put together at the present moment. So, let's assume the rule is correct. If so, then, the problem with,

:D I have seen him in the past week.

has to do with the way in which we are analysing the sentence. Which brings me back to my previous statement that 'the answer is always hidden in the question.'

If 'in the past week' is grammatical in a sentence with a Present Perfect verb, and yet cannot modify a Present Perfect verb, then it has to be modifying something, something that's hidden. What could be hidden? Adverbs modify verbs. So what verbal form could be missing? Oh wait, doesn't the verb 'see' take a present participle? Yes. It does. I studied that when I was learning English verbs. Ok, so let's add a participle and see what happens:

:D I have seen him jogging in the past week.

Aha! "in the past" modifies "jogging", a non-Perfect form. Unbelievable! The rule is correct. It stands unchanged. It was my original analysis that was off. I placed too much focus on the verb and no focus at all on the sentence's structure.

So, is 'in the past week' still an exception to the rule? No. It fits the rule quite nicely. It would be nice, however, if rules such as the one you found were followed by examples like the ones you've provided, Shun.

We need to move on to another example. Test our analyses. That's what this is all about, right? We're investigating language in use.

Cas :D

shun
24-Oct-2003, 15:47
Cas,

I do believe I have to wear a smiling icon to hide my face if I have to explain the thing in the class as you did.
:oops: :oops:
I have answered this your example:
Ex: I have seen him jogging in the past week. (grammatical)
If we can do this, we can also explain:
Ex: I have seen him jogging yesterday. (grammatical)
However, this grammatical example enables us to say:
Ex: I have seen him yesterday. (ungrammatical)
== Therefore I don't think the analysis is a good one.

You wrote:

:P I have seen him in the past week.
We know the sentence above doesn't fit the rule we're given; that rule being something like, 'past time expressions', specifically adverials, are incompatible with Present Perfect verbs. In other words, don't use adverbs expressing Past time to modify have -ed/-en verbs.

My reply: The example does fit what I call the Past Family. :lol: It is a past time, even I don't know how to explain it can stay with Present Perfect, neither do grammar writers. If a time which has the djective 'past' and is still not past, then what is past? :?: :?:
"I have seen him in the past week" is a past time and stays with Present Perfect. I agree the action is not past, but the time is past. Why? To me, it is compatible, because a present action can be started in the past, that's why. In other words, we do use adverbs expressing Past time to modify have -ed/-en verbs.

Casiopea
24-Oct-2003, 17:30
Shun:


1. Ex: I have seen him jogging in the past week. (grammatical)

If we can do this, we can also explain:

2. Ex: I have seen him jogging yesterday. (grammatical)

Oh, Yes. I see your logic quite clearly. Nice point, indeed. :D What you're saying is,

Since "in the past" and "yesterday" both belong to the past family of adverbs, we should be able to use them in the same way. So you tested that assumption by replacing "in the past" with "yesterday", expecting the same grammatical result:

2. :( I have seen him yesterday. (iff 'in the past' is grammatical in this position , then 'yesterday' is grammatical in that position)

but it wasn't or isn't grammatical, which is your point.

Okay. Now that we understand each other, here's why sentence 2. is faulty. "yesterday" modifies "jogging", a present participle, which just happens to be hidden, or omitted from the sentence.

Present participles (-ing) express continuity, wheres "yesterday" can not:

3. :( I am going jogging yesterday. ungrammatical

In short, even though "in the past week" and "yesterday" belong to the same past time club, they do not express past time in the same way. "in the past" expresses continuity, whereas "yesterday" can not. The former is compatible with -ing words, whereas the later is not.

"I have seen him yesterday" is ungrammatical because 'yesterday' modifies an -ing word, which is hidden, or omitted from the context.

Shun:

"I have seen him in the past week" is a past time and stays with Present Perfect. I agree the action is not past, but the time is past. Why?

Well , the action started in the Past and continues up to the Present. Past time (-en) is used to start the continuum and Present time (have see) is used to complete it. Time is used in this way to create a span of time, of which a start point and an end point is needed.

The adverb "in the past week" is not compatible with the PP verb; it's compatible with the PP verb's extension: have seen someone doing.

-ing words express continuity as does "in the past week". That is, we don't know when in the span of the past week the event started. It started at some unknown time within the past week. The word 'within' refers to a span. So you see,

:D I have seen him in the past week

is okay. "in the past" modifies an -ing word that is hidden, or omitted from the context.

:D I have seen him jogging in the past week

Shun:

In other words, we do use adverbs expressing Past time to modify have -ed/-en verbs.

On the surface it appears that they're modifying have -ed/-en verbs, but underlyingly, they're modifying something else. So, technically, adverbs expressing Past time do not modify have -ed/en verbs. Sorry :oops:

Do you have more examples?

:D

shun
24-Oct-2003, 19:05
Cas,

You wrote:

Past time (-en) is used to start the continuum and Present time (have see) is used to complete it. Time is used in this way to create a span of time, of which a start point and an end point is needed.

My reply: I guess your explanation is solely for the examples such as "I have seen him in the past week", example for the Past Family. :? All the resources have now been turned to the Past Family for the time being. But what about the normal Present Perfect? :lol:

In many other examples of Present Perfect, the time doesn't show "a start point and an end point":
Ex: He has seen Mary recently/just/lately.
Ex: We all have met John before/earlier. :idea:

Actually, normally, most Present Perfect sentences don't link to any time. They don't imply such a span of time, "of which a start point and an end point is needed".
:wink: Ex: I have lived in Japan. (I live in HK now.)
:wink: Ex: They have been to Paris. (They are back to HK now.)
== Present Perfect structures normally don't reveal a time and they just don't "span".

I am afraid we cannot ignore the normal structures for Present Perfect and, in order to explain the Past Family, say something strange, created solely for the Past Family. I am afraid it is not fair. They are the same Present Perfect tense, I suppose. They deserve the same treatment. :popcorn:
They are of the same tense that, as you analyzed, Past time (-en) is used to start the continuum and Present time (have see) is used to complete it. The analysis works only for the Past Family, but violates most of normal Present Perfect structures. This is why even grammar writers would not do it. :roll:

Or we may put them together for contrast: sometimes we span, sometime we don't:
:P Ex: I have seen him in the past week. (we span.)
:P Ex: I have lived in Japan before. (we don't span.)

What is it? A freedom of using tense? :Fade-col:

RonBee
25-Oct-2003, 07:16
What is meant by "Sometimes we span, sometimes we don't"?

:?

shun
25-Oct-2003, 07:37
RonBee asked:

What is meant by "Sometimes we span, sometimes we don't"?

:oops: My reply: Casiopea has already explained the meaning of a span of time:

Well , the action started in the Past and continues up to the Present. Past time (-en) is used to start the continuum and Present time (have see) is used to complete it. Time is used in this way to create a span of time, of which a start point and an end point is needed.

Our meaning is, :D in Ex1, the time "started in the Past and continues up to the Present", while our normal Present Perfect structures, such as Ex2, don't express such a span.
Ex1: I have seen him in the past week. (we span.)
Ex2: I have lived in Japan before. (we don't span.)
:wink:

RonBee
25-Oct-2003, 08:15
Okay.

:roll:

Casiopea
25-Oct-2003, 11:38
Shun:

In many other examples of Present Perfect, the time doesn't show "a start point and an end point".

Yes. I couldn’t agree with you more. :up: The reason being, there’s a difference in meaning, not to mention function, between “an event ends” and “a time frame is completed”. When I wrote the word ‘completed’ I was referring to the Past as a time frame, not an event (i.e. the Past meets the Present; they form a circle, with no end point and no beginning point).

Shun:

Actually, normally, most Present Perfect sentences don't link to any time. They don't imply such a span of time, "of which a start point and an end point is needed".

That’s the way I see it, too. :squarewi: No start, no end, just a circular span, no pun intended. :oops: :oops: In fact, the true function of the Present Perfect is to take focus off Time so as to place more focus on the event, in much the same structural way that passive constructions take the focus off the subject so as to place more focus/emphasis on the object. (Hmm, seems very apropos come to think of it that Present Perfect definitions use passive constructions i.e. ‘is completed’).

Shun:

Or we may put them together for contrast: sometimes we span, sometime we don't:

I have seen him (jogging) in the past week. (we span.)
I have lived in Japan before. (we don't span.)

Firstly, great examples! :smilecol:

Secondly, on the contrary :cry: :cry: Both sentences express a span, “between then and now”.

As for compatibility, the adverb ‘before’ and the Present Perfect both express unknown time. They take focus off Time. The adverbial phrase ‘in the past week’ and the Present Perfect are not compatible, however, because ‘in the past week’ expresses a known time: “within the past week”. That’s why *“I have lived in Japan in the past week” is ungrammatical. 'have lived' expresses unknown Time, whereas 'in the past week' expresses known Time.

Shun:

What is it? A freedom of using tense?

The variation you mean? Freedom, no. Systematic, yes. By the way, although it’s neither here nor there which term you choose to use, the term “Perfect Aspect” is more common these days. “Tense” means, Time. And, as we know, Present Perfect verbs do not express time. They take the focus off Time so as to place more focus on the event.

:D

shun
25-Oct-2003, 15:02
I said:

Actually, normally, most Present Perfect sentences don't link to any time. They don't imply such a span of time, "of which a start point and an end point is needed".

You replied:

That’s the way I see it, too. No start, no end, just a circular span, no pun intended. In fact, the true function of the Present Perfect is to take focus off Time so as to place more focus on the event

My reply: So, I see no span of time because I am seeing a circular span? If so, don't you think you need to explain a bit what is "circular span"? If without further explanation, it is pun. When explained, it is then no pun, as simple as this. :wink:
Personally, I don't know what is "circular span". But I am an old man with little knowledge, so I don't count. Somehow, I hope I could get back to age of 21, by way of "circular span".
We are talking about a span of time. How can a time shuttle back and fro like a circle? I don't know. I can't understand how I am able to turn the time back, controlling it. Actually, time has no return. You only have got "lineal span". :!:

----------------------

Cas wrote:


That’s why *“I have lived in Japan in the past week” is ungrammatical.

My reply:
:cry: My goodness, I don't know you have this idea: It is ungrammatical. No wonder you have kept giving me the example:


Ex: I have seen him (jogging) in the past week.

Why didn't we use some grammatical examples of the Past Family? I suggest a way how we find examples in a fair way: Go to yahoo and type in "in the past few years", a member of the Past Family, and see how many Present Perfect we can find:

Ex: Photography has come along way in the past few years.

:roll: I want to report to you, most searching results are in Present Perfect. You are lucky enough if you notice a few Simple Past working with the Past Family. Even with Simple Past, the writers are still victims of grammar books which say Simple Past works with specific past time, and hide the Past Family away. More victims are now in Asia. (see further below).

-----------------------

:B-fly: Many grammar writers would teach us not to use Specific Past Time, such as yesterday, last year with Present Perfect. For example from the following page:

http://conversa1.com/presentperfectpastsimple.htm

NOTE: We do NOT use specific time expressions with the Present Perfect. We cannot say, for example, "I have eaten spaghetti yesterday."

I did not deliberately find rare examples. I just went to yahoo and typed in key words such as "specific past time Present Perfect", and chose one in the first page among many pages of matches. Statements like this quotation are frequent. However, very unfortunately, it is the assuredness such as this that forbids they touch the Past Family. :mad:

The pattern of the Past Family, like "in the past xx years", can be as specific as down to a few years, or months, or weeks, or days, or hours, or minutes, or even seconds:

8) :lol: Ex: "I have watched over him for the past five minutes."

They are specific enough!! Compared with them, "yesterday" is non-specific at all:

Ex: I saw him yesterday.
== I didn't see him the whole day. I didn't say exactly when in yesterday. Comparatively, "yesterday" is a very unspecific time, measured and compared with "in the past five minutes".

On the other hand, are the Past Family PAST? Yes, I can bet anything on it. The Past is the same Past in "Specific Past Time". :idea:

Therefore, the Past Family are both specific and past. And this is the trouble. This is why they are guilty and put into concealment, poor thing. However, the concealment is not the end of the story. Rather, it is just the beginning. Following the common rule such as the quotation above, Asians frequently use Simple Past with the Past Family:

Ex: *They worked here for the past five years.

They would say, "Why not Simple Past?" :cry: It is specific, and it is past, students pointed out. Most of all, they would appeal, grammar books don't teach that "in the past five years" cannot stay with Simple Past! Students even challenged us: Do you have any grammar which foolishly say "in the past five years" can possibly stay with Present Perfect? No! Therefore this time adverbial must be used with Simple Past, they concluded!!

We teachers are speechless. :mad: Why will someone produce such a quotation above, without giving a word to the Past Family?

Some teachers have listlessly given up to students, "Go ahead, may be you right, use Simple Past (with the Past Family)." Some are seeking for help. I am not here giving you confusions. Not at all. On the contrary, grammar books written by native English speakers have heaped lots of confusions upon you and me. Give me the good answer of the Past Family and we Asian teachers will say thanks for a thousand times to you English native speakers.

Please teach us how to make a span of time circular. We have to explain to students.
:) :)

Tdol
26-Oct-2003, 22:57
Ex: *They worked here for the past five years.

Do they still work here? Yes, so the past is innapropriate.

shun
27-Oct-2003, 10:35
TDOL wrote:


Ex: *They worked here for the past five years.
Do they still work here? Yes, so the past is innapropriate.

:( My replied: I have made a terrible mistake in understanding your idea. I have deleted the old part and replace with this. :(

Then what tense is appropriate and WHY. I was asking about Present Perfect, not Simple Past. :wink:

shun
27-Oct-2003, 12:36
TDOL,

I say sorry again for the mistake I've made. :eggface:

As you see, now I can only tell students to go to search machine and study the appropriate tense for the Past Family. Students have to make a conclusion by themselves. They have to believe me, fortunately. :n00b:
But it is not a grammar solution for the Past Family, as you must agree. We have to find an explanation, and that is why I am seeking for the answer.:hi:

:drinking:I was waiting for the "circular span" theory.

shun
27-Oct-2003, 15:47
TDOL,

You wrote:


Ex: *They worked here for the past five years.
Do they still work here? Yes, so the past is innapropriate.

:D My reply: Please understand I agree with you 100%.:up: But how should we say it? You are implying that even with specific past time, sometimes, using Simple Past is inappropriate. However, this goes against the normal rule as I quoted above:


NOTE: :silly: We do NOT use specific time expressions with the Present Perfect. We cannot say, for example, "I have eaten spaghetti yesterday."
http://conversa1.com/presentperfectpastsimple.htm

:eyes: How shall we explain the whole thing? Below, I try to give my supposition, or conclusion, that is deduced from all the opinions here.

:agrue: I have been seeking for help for a long time and I was told that we may easily find examples that violate the agreement. We may search in the pattern "have seen yesterday", and we will get many examples violating our quotations before::snipersm:


:shock: Ex: But we have seen yesterday, that Judah and Ephraim are to be taken as the same;
:shock: Ex: On the other hand, this of course leads here only to practical construction, architecture is something of another sort...not always so bad, I have seen yesterday affamed dwellings by a japanese architect that.....
:shock: Ex: ''What I have seen yesterday and today is people coming in to use the computers because they needed to communicate with relatives in other states.''
:shock: Ex: I have seen yesterday something suspiciously like this, but this was 2.0.14 on a Cabriolet board and otherwise Red Hat 3.0.3, i.e. no shared libraries at all. :infinity:

:!: That is to say, using the pattern "have seen yesterday", replace SEEN with other past verbs like discussed, arrived/ finished/ shown/ told/ got/ received/ agreed/ found/ lost/ decided/ etc., or replace YESTERDAY with last year/ month/ week/ etc., we still easily find a number of examples -- "Present Perfect with YESTERDAY". What does this finding prove?

:smilecol: If we add things all up, we may find something consistent, though. We may prove the rule that Present Perfect doesn't stay with specific past time, is just not there. Grammar writers provide us a non-existent rule that in turn forces themselves to hide away the Past Family. :silly: It is "circular vice", or a vice circle, no pun intended. If this is not the conclusion, then what is?

------------------------
:cheers: More evidence is that Cas wrote:


That’s why *"I have lived in Japan in the past week" is ungrammatical.

If according to Cas, Present Perfect is ungrammatical staying with "in the past week", why then it is grammatical with "in the past two weeks"? :squarewi:

:P But if Present Perfect is ungrammatical with "in the past two weeks", why then it is grammatical with "in the past 1000 weeks"? And then, why it is grammatical with "in the past five years"? They are of the same pattern!!!

That is, from the beginning to the present, logically, Cas regarded that Present Perfect is not compatible with "in the past five weeks".

------------------------
:cheers: More evidence is that a gentleman here regarded our rules are nothing but a viewpoint:


You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with time expressions such as "yesterday," "one year ago," "last week," "when I was a chlid," "when I lived in Japan," "at that moment," "that day" or "one day."
== http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/presentperfect.html (a viewpoint, doesn't make it a rule.)

-----------------------
:cheers: Of course, as we see from above, your statement is also a disagreement to the rule.

The temporary conclusion here is obvious: Nobody agrees to such a rule.

What do you say?
:) :)

Tdol
27-Oct-2003, 22:04
If the time is specific and unfinished (since 1987) then the present perfect is used. I think the issue is clouded by the fact that the present perfect is the choice when time is not specified, but that is its only use. ;-)

shun
28-Oct-2003, 00:02
TDOL wrote:


If the time is specific and unfinished (since 1987) then the present perfect is used.

My reply:
:eyes: 1. What time do you mean? Yes, 1987 is specific. But please tell me how it is unfinished. I thought 1987 is finished, by 2003.

:eyes: 2. Are we talking of the Past Family?

:eyes: 3. What happens to the ordinary Present Perfect which is without a time, like "He has lived in Japan"? It seems to be a finish. Perhaps your assumption now has clouded those ordinary Present Perfect structures. Would you do some clarification?

:eyes: 4. Please understand that even your presumption here still makes the common rule invalid that Present Perfect doesn't stay with specific past time. But this has already been our conclusion from my previous long comment. The issue is rather clarified than clouded. Can you say your new discovery doesn't depend on what I have concluded?
:?

Tdol
28-Oct-2003, 00:06
1987 is finished, but in this time pharse it merely marks the beginning- there is no cut-off point because 'since' brings us up to the present. ;-)

shun
28-Oct-2003, 07:28
TDOL explained "since 1987":


1987 is finished, but in this time pharse it merely marks the beginning- there is no cut-off point because 'since' brings us up to the present.

:roll: Dear TDOL, if it is really as you said, we were just mentioning the beginning of the finished 1987, which is possible, and we brought the time up to the present by 'since', which is unlikely. In your because, 'since' doesn't bring us up to the present, as it is not "since us".

I hope we may try again and also other questions above, which are more related to our topic.
:popcorn:

shun
28-Oct-2003, 08:11
:lilangel: I revisited the search of "specific past time present perfect" in yahoo, and I found just how common the rule is.

:B-fly: From The Linguistics Department of Stanford University:


The present perfect is not compatible with adverbials denoting a specific past time.
:painting:
http://www-linguistics.stanford.edu/linguistics/semgroup/archive/1999/sf_kiparsky.html

:fadein: As we now must agree, this common rule doesn't really work. It only works by hiding the Past Family. Think of our days of discussion that can rectify so many erroneous statements from around the world!! We should be proud of ourselves here.
:olympic:

Casiopea
28-Oct-2003, 11:01
Shun:

More evidence is that Cas wrote:

Quote:
That’s why *"I have lived in Japan in the past week" is ungrammatical.

If according to Cas, Present Perfect is ungrammatical staying with "in the past week", why then it is grammatical with "in the past two weeks"?

:D

"I have lived in Japan in the past two weeks" is ungrammatical. for the past two weeks modifies 'have lived' quite nicely.

:wink:

Casiopea
28-Oct-2003, 11:37
Shun:

Please teach us how to make a span of time circular.

That's quantum. Physics.

I'm just a girl :cry:

Red5
28-Oct-2003, 12:47
That's quantum. Physics.

I'm just a girl :cry:

LOL!!! :D

shun
28-Oct-2003, 12:59
Cas wrote:


"I have lived in Japan in the past two weeks" is ungrammatical. for the past two weeks modifies 'have lived' quite nicely.

:rocol: My reply: It is inexcusable for me not to have discussed about the prepositions used in the pattern of the Past Family.

:idea: IN is dynamic, meaning sometimes there, and sometimes not there.

:idea: FOR is static, meaning most, if not all, of the time.

:multi: But in past discussions (in other forums) we agreed that they are so only when the pattern is without the adjective 'past'.

Ex: *I have lived in Japan in two weeks.
Ex: I have lived in Japan for two weeks.

Actually, in the pattern without 'past', many other prepositions should not work, either:

Ex: *I have lived in Japan during two weeks.
Ex: *I have lived in Japan over two weeks.
Ex: *I have lived in Japan within two weeks.

:agrue: But I want to report to you, as we agreed then, both in opinion and evidence, when there is the adjective 'past', most prepositions are acceptable:
Ex: I have lived in Japan in/within/during/over/for/etc. the past two weeks.
== Only God knows the difference. ALL are frequent in the format of the Past Family.

:) But I agree you may now argue instead whether we should use LIVE, rather than STAY, to describe a period of staying there for two weeks. I want to skip the discussion of the preference in LIVE or STAY, with "in two weeks". Nevertheless, I predict you have a keen eye on this matter. :up:

shun
28-Oct-2003, 13:08
TDOL,

:D I agree that "SINCE 1987" is the key to solve the problem of the Past Family (in the past, in the past year, in the past two months, during the past three decades, over the past four weeks, for the past few years, etc."), because it is actually one of its member, though it doesn't harbor the adjective "past".
:icecream: If this year is 2003, then SINCE 1987 equates "in the past 16 years" (2003-1987=16). That is to say, like the Past Family, SINCE 1987 refers to a specific past time but uses Present Perfect:
Ex: They has worked here since 1987.

:arrow: The usage of SINCE 1987, if analyzed, again, violates the golden rule that Present Perfect doesn't stay with specific past time.
:( While grammar writers have to hide away the Past Family in their books, however, because SINCE 1987 doesn't contain 'past', some grammar writers would venture to put it in grammar books. It usually works because as students learn English tenses, the basic part of English, they in their age don't ask much. Also, they don't know much. :oops: They cannot see any error in a statement "last week refers to a past time, and since 1997 refers to the present". Actually, to be frank, since 1987 refers to 1987, a past time.

:shock: If we think it doesn't matter, grammar writers believe the other way. Aware of the problem, sincere grammar writers nowadays talk about only SINCE, rather than SINCE 1987, in explaining tenses. Usually they will explain FOR and SINCE together, and hence they don't need to clearly state the embarrassing SINCE 1987, like this:


PRESENT PERFECT + FOR, SINCE
Using the present perfect, we can define a period of time before now by considering its duration, with for + a period of time, or by considering its starting point, with since + a point in time.
For + a period of time:
for six years, for a week, for a month, for hours, for two hours.
I have worked here for five years.
Since + a point in time:
since this morning, since last week, since yesterday,
since I was a child, since Wednesday, since 2 o'clock.
I have worked here since 1990.
http://www.edufind.com/english/grammar/Tenses7.cfm
:up: If they state cleverly, few persons will notice they have already legalized the combination of Present Perfect with a specific past time, progressing against many grammars.

:o SINCE is a good concept indicating "a past time up to the present moment", thus coinciding with the 'normal' use of Present Perfect. If we focus on SINCE alone, it can even be nominated a present time adverbial. Unlike SINCE, however, SINCE 1987 is a potential threat to Present Perfect it has to work with.

:rainbowa: To sum up, SINCE 1987 is a time referring to a specific past but stays with Present Perfect. To successfully explain SINCE 1987 will successfully explain the Past Family.
:onfire:

shun
28-Oct-2003, 16:13
Shun:

Please teach us how to make a span of time circular.

That's quantum. Physics.

I'm just a girl :cry:

:wink: The "circular span" is as fragile as we don't use Present Perfect with specific past time. My hope of returning to 21 is vinished. :cry:

shun
28-Oct-2003, 16:55
:scramble: I have studied English tenses for a long time. I know there was only one rule in explaining, or supporting, the three tenses: Simple Past, Present Perfect, and Simple Present. The rule was that Present Perfect doesn't stay with specific past time. Now it is over, as we have all agreed.

Then sad to day, there is no rule any more. To prove that, now I promise this: Whatever you say to Present Perfect, can be said again word for word to either Simple Present or Simple Past.

:crazyeye: Or I may say, no matter how carefully you define the use of a tense, the definition can be said again word for word to another tense. What I mean is, your definition must be so vague that it must be applied also to another tense. In other words, we can define nothing about any tense.

It seems that I am doomed to lose and I cannot keep my stupid promise. But the truth is, the promise has never been broken by anyone.

My promise is actually part of the answer to the perplexity we are now in, so play it fair. Keep out of personal matters.

:eyes: For a start, one may say Simple Past can stay with specific past time.
Then I shall reply: Present Perfect can also stay with specific past time.

Any more definitions? :cheers:

Tdol
28-Oct-2003, 23:12
Shun:

Please teach us how to make a span of time circular.

That's quantum. Physics.

I'm just a girl :cry:

I think I must be one, too. ;-)

shun
29-Oct-2003, 15:18
:? Why do we sometimes treat Present Perfect differently, because of the different members of the Past Family?

:!: Ex1: He has lived in Japan in the past. (a finish)
:!: Ex2: he has lived in Japan in the past five years. (a continuity)

It seems that we have no control over any concept about the tense. We may call the tense a finish or a continuity, at our own free will. We see a finished time, and we call Present Perfect a finish. While we see a continuity of time, we call Present Perfect a continuity. Is there any grammar, or rule here?
:o

Tdol
29-Oct-2003, 23:07
The second isn't a continuity- the time is, but he is very unlikely to be there now. ;-)

shun
30-Oct-2003, 07:33
TDOL,

:cry: You wrote about "Ex2: he has lived in Japan in the past five years":


The second isn't a continuity- the time is, but he is very unlikely to be there now.

My reply: I am afraid I cannot follow you here. A few days ago, it was you who understood and said:


:wink: Ex: *They worked here for the past five years.
Do they still work here? Yes, so the past is innapropriate.

The second quote here means you are aware that, because of "for the past five years", they still work here and Present Perfect shall be appropriate. This is agreed to most of us here. And then in a very similar example Ex2, with correct Present Perfect tense, why do you suddenly have such a conclusion: he is not there? This time, no one will agree with you, I fear.
:?

Casiopea
30-Oct-2003, 07:35
Cas:

:( "I have lived in Japan in the past two weeks." specific
:D "I have lived in Japan for the past two weeks." non-specific

Shun:
The present perfect is not compatible with adverbials denoting a specific past time.

http://www-linguistics.stanford.edu/linguistics/semgroup/archive/1999/sf_kiparsky.html

shun
30-Oct-2003, 08:20
Cas:

:( "I have lived in Japan in the past two weeks." specific
:D "I have lived in Japan for the past two weeks." non-specific

Shun:
The present perfect is not compatible with adverbials denoting a specific past time.

http://www-linguistics.stanford.edu/linguistics/semgroup/archive/1999/sf_kiparsky.html

Cas,

I am afraid we should not depend our discussion solely on icons. :?:

If the icon implies something, please say it. I don't even know whether you agreed to your examples or not. Or do you imply that your examples violate the quotation, or what?
:cry:

But the quotation has been repudiated by us, for quite some time now. Then what is the result if a bad example is violating a bad statement? Can this result be expressed by an icon?
:cry:

Casiopea
30-Oct-2003, 08:34
ungrammatical (PP with specfic past time adverbial (see Kiparsky))
"I have lived in Japan in the past two weeks." specific

Grammatical: (PP with non-specific past time adverbial)
"I have lived in Japan for the past two weeks." non-specific

shun
30-Oct-2003, 09:03
:? Now you seemed to agree to such a rule, quoted from The Linguistics Department of Stanford University:


The present perfect is not compatible with adverbials denoting a specific past time.

http://www-linguistics.stanford.edu/linguistics/semgroup/archive/1999/sf_kiparsky.html

:o But the quotations such as this have been repudiated by us, for quite some time now. Do you now want to say you want to go back from the beginning, and agree to the "golden rule":


NOTE: We do NOT use specific time expressions with the Present Perfect. We cannot say, for example, "I have eaten spaghetti yesterday."

http://conversa1.com/presentperfectpastsimple.htm

Also even this:


You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with time expressions such as "yesterday," "one year ago," "last week," "when I was a chlid," "when I lived in Japan," "at that moment," "that day" or "one day."

http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/presentperfect.html


:shock: Is that what you wanted to say? If not, how can we depend on a wrong rule to support our discussion?
:?:

Casiopea
30-Oct-2003, 09:26
Shun:

....the Past Family are quite compatible with Present Perfect:

Ex: I have seen him in the past few days.

There's no argument there. Adverbs denoting unspecified time are compatible with the Present Perfect. (i.e., "in the past few days" denotes an unknown time within the past few days.)

The present perfect is not compatible with adverbials denoting a specific past time.
http://www-linguistics.stanford.edu/linguistics/semgroup/archive/1999/sf_kiparsky.html

We do NOT use specific time expressions with the Present Perfect. We cannot say, for example, "I have eaten spaghetti yesterday."
http://conversa1.com/presentperfectpastsimple.htm

You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with time expressions such as "yesterday," "one year ago," "last week," "when I was a chlid," "when I lived in Japan," "at that moment," "that day" or "one day."
http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/presentperfect.html