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jwschang
22-Oct-2003, 08:20
Did some checking up.
It would appear that "forbidding" the use of the Present Perfect with "past time expressions" is NOT the case, with "past time expressions" generalized wrongly and thus misunderstood.

1. We use the Simple Past for specific times in the past.
(a) I saw Simon yesterday.
(b) I ate lunch in the afternoon.
(c) I visited Dalian in July.

2. We use the Present Perfect where the exact time in the past is unimportant, not known, or cannot be recalled, but NOT with a specific past time.
(a) I have seen Simon before. (OK)
I have seen Simon yesterday. (Not OK)
(b) Have you eaten lunch? I have eaten already. (OK)
I have eaten lunch in the afternoon. (Not OK)
I have eaten lunch at three. (Not OK)
(c) I have visited Dalian several times since I first arrived. (OK)
I have visited Dalian in July. (Not OK)

That's what I understand to be the case. Any views?

Casiopea
22-Oct-2003, 10:11
Agreed :D

1. We use the Simple Past for specific times in the past.
2. We use the Present Perfect for non-specific times in the past.

Something happened at some time between then and now:

I have eaten.

Something happened at a specific time in the past:

I ate.

===========Also==================
Time is inherent:

I ate. (Specific time need not be stated always because it can be deduced from the context)

Example:

The following conversation is taking place right now, at lunch time.

Pat: Did you eat yet?
Sam: Yup. I ate.

Pat asks, "Did you eat yet?", meaning "Did you eat lunch yet?" Lunch is eaten in the afternoon, so Sam deduces that 'Did you eat yet?' refers specifically to lunch time as opposed to dinner time or breakfast.

Specific time is inherent in Simple Past verbs so a speaker doesn't have to state it, unless, that is, it's necessary:

The following conversation takes place between two people who have been stranded on an island for two days without food.

Pat: Did you eat yet?
Sam: Yup. I ate yesterday afternoon before I knew you were stranded too. If I'd have known you were here, too, I would've saved some food for you. Sorry.

'yesterday afternoon' is a specific time. It's different from 'this morning'. If Sam would have said, "Yup. I ate this morning when you were out hunting for food", Pat would've probably eaten Sam :shock:

And, just because specific time is inherent in Simple Past verbs, doesn't mean that they cannot be modified by non-specific times, such as:

I ate some time ago. (ok)


Time as a modification:

I have eaten today. (at some unknown time today).

'today' is a specific day, but it is also made up of hours, making it span of time. When "You ate" within that span is unknown/undefinited and hence why 'today' is compatible with Present Perfect verbs.

Note, 'today' is a 'past time adverbial': it refers to that part of today which is over. 'today' is also compatible with both Simple Past and Present Perfect. The reasons being, it refers to (a) a specific day and (b) a non-specific time within the day.

One more thing. The Present Perfect is generally, if not always, used to take focus off the time frame and onto the the event itself. Notice that the Simple events go hand in hand with a , meaning one, specific time frame,

walks = event 'walk', time 'Present'
walked = event 'walk', time 'Past'


whereas Perfect verbs lack a specific time frame. They refer to two:

have walked: Present 'have' & Past 'walked'
had walked before I ran: Past (begining) 'had walked' & Past (end) 'ran'

Speakers use the Present Perfect to place heavy focus on an event. That may be the reason why the phrase 'time is unimportant' tends to be adopted in definitions for the Present Perfect.

Have you eaten lunch?
(I'm asking about the event. Time is not the focus/topic here)

Did you eat lunch?
(I'm asking about the event and the time. The event and the time go hand in hand).

Cas :D

jwschang
22-Oct-2003, 10:50
Speakers use the Present Perfect to place heavy focus on an event. That may be the reason why the phrase 'time is unimportant' tends to be adopted in definitions for the Present Perfect.

Have you eaten lunch?
(I'm asking about the event. Time is not the focus/topic here)

Did you eat lunch?
(I'm asking about the event and the time. The event and the time go hand in hand).

Cas :D

Your explanation is very useful.
In fact, my example was not a good one: I have visted Dalian several times since I arrived; because we can say "...since July 17, 2002" which makes the past time specific.
The "variation" to the "rule" is allowed by the use of the conjunction "since". I think the "rule" of specific past time being disallowed applies only WITHIN the same clause.
Must do more checking. :idea:

RonBee
22-Oct-2003, 12:28
A: Have you eaten lunch in the afternoon?
B: Yes, I have eaten lunch in the afternoon.

A: Have you eaten lunch at three?
B: Yes, I have eaten lunch at three.

A: Have you visited Dalian in July?
B: Yes, I have visited Dalian in July.

;-)

jwschang
22-Oct-2003, 13:07
A: Have you eaten lunch in the afternoon?
B: Yes, I have eaten lunch in the afternoon.

A: Have you eaten lunch at three?
B: Yes, I have eaten lunch at three.

A: Have you visited Dalian in July?
B: Yes, I have visited Dalian in July.

;-)

Yes. We have been using it so. Trouble is, there ARE linguists and teachers who are teaching that we should say in answer:
B. Yes, I ate lunch in the afternoon.
B. Yes, I ate lunch at three.
B. Yes, I visited Dalian in July.

1. This is the matter that has got some people upset (never mind mentioning whoever), because it is or can be confusing.
2. The "rule" is not my view. I did some checking and found that that's what is being taught by SOME. I don't know if it's a majority or minority who subscribe to the "rule", or it's at the climatic state of a toss-up!!!!!
3. It seems the language has gone through "refinements" (for whatever reasons???). Without sounding disparaging, it appears that such refinements are the labour of love of purists.
4. I guess you and I grew up speaking quite a bit of unsound grammar in pure blissful ignorance!!!!
5. I'm more concerned with the practical side of things: With such differing views, what should we teach learners? And it could lead to a lot of angst in the poor serious-type of kid (not to mention even some adults). :roll:

Tdol
22-Oct-2003, 13:22
I ate. (Specific time need not be stated always because it can be deduced from the context)

Example:

The following conversation is taking place right now, at lunch time.

Pat: Did you eat yet?
Sam: Yup. I ate.



Cas :D

In BE, most would use the perfect here- the past simple with 'yet' is not very common. I, personally, wouldn't use this, but some would. ;-)

jwschang
22-Oct-2003, 15:54
I ate. (Specific time need not be stated always because it can be deduced from the context)Example:
The following conversation is taking place right now, at lunch time.
Pat: Did you eat yet?
Sam: Yup. I ate.
Cas :D
In BE, most would use the perfect here- the past simple with 'yet' is not very common. I, personally, wouldn't use this, but some would. ;-)

1. Re Ron's examples, some would say the Present Perfect is NOT ok for both Q & A: Did you eat lunch in the afternoon/at three? Did you visit Dalian in July? and not: Have you eaten lunch in the afternoon?....etc

2. ON THE OTHER HAND, there can be a real meaningful difference between the Simple Past and the Present Perfect, depending on the intended message or context.
Mother to son:
Did you do your homework?
Son:I did (Give me a five! She didn't ask and I didn't say I'd finished it!)
Mum: Have you done your homework? (Completed it?)
Son: Um... (start minor defensive tactics) the neighbour's cat was having kittens and I'd to get the vet but Uncle Ron took my mobile (new age kid) to ask aunt Julia over for dinner but Mary said she couldn't....(then major diversionary tactics) aunt Mary'd been kind of mean to Liz (Uncle Ron's wife) 'cause I'd heard her say last Thanksgiving that Liz's turkey was from the Thanksgiving before that (mum's eyes open wide)...and yeah mum (easing into counter-attacking mode), you still owe me that dollar for doing up my homework last week... (with betrayed but forgiving glance) I've to run, mum, the neighbour's cat's still having......

3. In Singapore, kids (on the streets, in the malls) struggle with the Present Perfect, choosing (subconsciously) to use it randomly in place of the Simple Past, because (I think) they gravitate to this unfathomable city slicker to know it better, compared to plain country cousin the Simple Past.

4. Also, I think adults tend to ask questions to kids in the PP (as wives do to husbands) and the knee-jerk reply is also in the PP, because the message is "have you done it", not a straight-forward "did you do it". The latter allows an escape route because it doesn't address COMPLETION.

5. My conclusion (IMHO) is that there are contexts where there is no, or hardly any, difference between the two tenses, and others where the difference is intentional (conscious or otherwise).

Trying to be light-hearted in our exchanges, like Ron. :roll:

Tdol
22-Oct-2003, 15:57
There is definitely a grey area- in the example I gave, it sounds a bit uncomfortable to my ears, but I wouldn't call it wrong. The two uses are acceptable. I think the general tendency is to use the PP less. ;-)

jwschang
22-Oct-2003, 16:00
I ate. (Specific time need not be stated always because it can be deduced from the context)Example:The following conversation is taking place right now, at lunch time.
Pat: Did you eat yet?
Sam: Yup. I ate.
Cas :D

In BE, most would use the perfect here- the past simple with 'yet' is not very common. I, personally, wouldn't use this, but some would. ;-)

That's how I tend to use the PP, without any "past time expression", and not the Simple Past for: Have you eaten? Yup, I have eaten.

jwschang
22-Oct-2003, 17:15
A: Have you visited Dalian in July?
B: Yes, I have visited Dalian in July.
;-)

Another thought. The above example seems more fitting for regular expected visits than for a once-off visit. Boss to salesman responsible for Dalian:
Have you visited Dalian in July? (Have you done your visit to Dalian for July?)
I have visited Dalian in July.

What I can glean from all the examples and discussion is that the "rule" that the Present Perfect cannot be used with "a SPECIFIC time in the past" is wrongly understood to apply across the board. I think it applies only in certain contexts, depending on the intended message, where the Simple Past should be the preferred or only correct form.

I shouldn't have opened this can of worms!! :roll:

RonBee
22-Oct-2003, 17:48
A: Have you eaten lunch in the afternoon?
B: Yes, I have eaten lunch in the afternoon.

A: Have you eaten lunch at three?
B: Yes, I have eaten lunch at three.

A: Have you visited Dalian in July?
B: Yes, I have visited Dalian in July.

;-)

Yes. We have been using it so. Trouble is, there ARE linguists and teachers who are teaching that we should say in answer:
B. Yes, I ate lunch in the afternoon.
B. Yes, I ate lunch at three.
B. Yes, I visited Dalian in July.

1. This is the matter that has got some people upset (never mind mentioning whoever), because it is or can be confusing.
2. The "rule" is not my view. I did some checking and found that that's what is being taught by SOME. I don't know if it's a majority or minority who subscribe to the "rule", or it's at the climatic state of a toss-up!!!!!
3. It seems the language has gone through "refinements" (for whatever reasons???). Without sounding disparaging, it appears that such refinements are the labour of love of purists.
4. I guess you and I grew up speaking quite a bit of unsound grammar in pure blissful ignorance!!!!
5. I'm more concerned with the practical side of things: With such differing views, what should we teach learners? And it could lead to a lot of angst in the poor serious-type of kid (not to mention even some adults). :roll:

I am afraid I might have already waded into water too deep for me. :wink:

It is true that sometimes the simple past and the past perfect can mean the same thing.

A: Have you eaten lunch today?
B: Yes, I ate.

Or:

A: Have you eaten lunch today?
B: Yes, I have eaten lunch.

I think few would argue that there is a real difference between the two.

As for those example sentences I posted, I thought it might be interesting to demonstrate that those "impossible" sentences are quite possible given the right circumstances. As someone once said, it is context that makes a sentence meaningful.


Let's briefly look at the questions and the revised answers.

A: Have you eaten lunch in the afternoon? (Any afternoon)
B: B. Yes, I ate lunch in the afternoon. (A particular afternoon--that day)

A: Have you eaten lunch at three? (Any day)
B. Yes, I ate lunch at three. (A particular day--that day)

A: Have you visited Dalian in July? (Any July)
B. Yes, I visited Dalian in July. (The most recent July)

Every answer is, in a sense, a response to a different question than was asked. It's kind of like when you ask a person, "How long have you been waiting here?" and he responds with "Since three o'clock." You are then left with trying to figure out what the answer to your question is. If you say to somebody, "Have you visited Paris in the springtime?" the expected response would be something like, "Yes. I visited Paris last spring as a matter of fact." If the person instead says, "I visited Paris in the spring" that is likely to put you a little off-balance, simply because it is so unexpected.

(I am now going to have to ponder for a while on whether that made any sense.)

;-)

jwschang
22-Oct-2003, 18:31
]

I am afraid I might have already waded into water too deep for me. :wink:

It is true that sometimes the simple past and the past perfect can mean the same thing. I think few would argue that there is a real difference between the two. As for those example sentences I posted, I thought it might be interesting to demonstrate that those "impossible" sentences are quite possible given the right circumstances. As someone once said, it is context that makes a sentence meaningful.
;-)

The comforting thing (for our own sanity, not for proving anything) arising out of all this is that we (you, me, cas, tdol, etc) ARE agreed that there is interchangeability and there are differences in the usage of the two tenses.

Deep and murky waters are not for us weekend bathers!!! :wink:

jwschang
22-Oct-2003, 18:46
As for those example sentences I posted, I thought it might be interesting to demonstrate that those "impossible" sentences are quite possible given the right circumstances. As someone once said, it is context that makes a sentence meaningful.

Let's briefly look at the questions and the revised answers.

A: Have you eaten lunch in the afternoon? (Any afternoon)
B: B. Yes, I ate lunch in the afternoon. (A particular afternoon--that day)

A: Have you eaten lunch at three? (Any day)
B. Yes, I ate lunch at three. (A particular day--that day)

A: Have you visited Dalian in July? (Any July)
B. Yes, I visited Dalian in July. (The most recent July)

(I am now going to have to ponder for a while on whether that made any sense.)
;-)

The sentences above are all correct grammar, but all the questions by A do not contain a "specific time in the past" expression. It is this "rule" that is being questioned. :(

RonBee
22-Oct-2003, 19:16
The sentences above are all correct grammar, but all the questions by A do not contain a "specific time in the past" expression. It is this "rule" that is being questioned.

We often use such expressions with perfect confidence that they will be understood. Examples:

Have you ever been to Europe?
Have you ever flown on a plane?
Have you ever met so and so?

The possibilities are endless. I think it is appropriate that you put rule in quote marks. I am not at all sure such a rule exists. In any case, I have never bothered to learn it.

I for one am not involved in a vast conspiracy to keep ESL learners from learning English the right way. In fact, I keep telling them that my way is the right way.

:wink:

Casiopea
23-Oct-2003, 11:09
A: Have you eaten lunch at three?
B: Yes, I have eaten lunch at three.

Ooh. Cool, sneaky one, dude. Ambiguity!

Within the context of the given conversation, 'at three' offers two meanings:

(1) at specifically 3 o'clock
(2) at some unknown 3 o'clock in the past

If (1), then 'at three' is incompatible with 'have eaten' and the sentence is ungrammatical:

:( Have you eaten at (specifically) 3 o'clock?

If (2), then 'at three' is compatible with 'have eaten' and the sentence is grammatical:

:D Have you eaten at 3 o'clock (before)?

In short, 'at three' can refer to a specific time on an unspecified day (2), or a specific time on a specific day (1).

Cas :D

RonBee
23-Oct-2003, 11:42
A: Have you eaten lunch at three?
B: Yes, I have eaten lunch at three.

Ooh. Cool, sneaky one, dude. Ambiguity!

Within the context of the given conversation, 'at three' offers two meanings:

(1) at specifically 3 o'clock
(2) at some unknown 3 o'clock in the past

If (1), then 'at three' is incompatible with 'have eaten' and the sentence is ungrammatical:

:( Have you eaten at (specifically) 3 o'clock?

If (2), then 'at three' is compatible with 'have eaten' and the sentence is grammatical:

:D Have you eaten at 3 o'clock (before)?

In short, 'at three' can refer to a specific time on an unspecified day (2), or a specific time on a specific day (1).

Cas :D

Actually, I didn't mean for it to be ambiguous. "Have you eaten lunch at three?" is an improbable question if the speaker means at three o'clock on any day at all. However, if the speaker means at three o'clock today then we are talking about something else entirely, because such an utterance is never spoken. In such a case we would invariably say Did you eat lunch at three?

:)

Casiopea
23-Oct-2003, 11:45
Cas' English:

Pat: Did you eat yet?
Sam: Yup. I ate.

todl's English:

In BE, most would use the perfect here- the past simple with 'yet' is not very common. I, personally, wouldn't use this, but some would. ;-)

Jws' BE English:

That's how I tend to use the PP, without any "past time expression", and not the Simple Past for: Have you eaten? Yup, I have eaten.

That a very good point :D

In North American English (Ahem, Canada & the US), the Simple Past and the Present Perfect are slowly merging, and the reason why some speakers, actually more than some, tend to use "Did..yet?". It's a sign of language in change.

In terms of its grammaticality, well, descriptivists might consider it grammatical because it follows a consistent pattern; whereas prescriptivists will definitely see it as ungrammatical because it deviates from the traditional pattern.

In terms of acceptability, some people might think it's okay because it doesn't drastically change the meaning expressed by the Simple Past, whereas other people may think it's not okay because it makes one sound as if they don't know the rules of the language.

However that may be, "Did...yet?" does in fact adhere to a rule, albeit a rule in flux. Prescriptivists of which I have met none on this board aren't much for language in change. They'd prefer that language stay put and not move around so much. (On a humorous note, prescript in prescriptivist means, before writing. Are prescriptivists troglodytes? :shock:)

I teach learners the traditional form "Have..yet?" first, then add in "Did..yet?", along with the whos, the whys, and the whens.

Knowledge is power.

Cas :D

Casiopea
23-Oct-2003, 12:22
Ronbee:

"Have you eaten lunch at three?" is an improbable question if the speaker means at three o'clock on any day at all.

I see what you mean, but, to me, there's a difference in meaning between 'any day' and 'an unspecified day'; ICHO 'any day' means, one specific day within many choices of days, whereas 'an unspecified day' means, whenever. That is, it doesn't express a choice of day at all. It's in that way, that I believe 'at 3 o'c'ock' can express both specific time (one 3 o'clock) or unspecified time (3 o'clock whenever ~ before).

(little) cas :D

Casiopea
23-Oct-2003, 12:39
5. My conclusion (IMHO) is that there are contexts where there is no, or hardly any, difference between the two tenses, and others where the difference is intentional (conscious or otherwise).

Oh, I agree. It, also, describes the Simple Past (SP) and the Present Perfect (PP) as merging in certain contexts in Singapore English as well. Nice.

Cas :D

Tdol
23-Oct-2003, 13:06
The other thing that is spreading in BE is the omission of the auxialiry verb 'have'. This is spreading outside dialect areas into wider circles, although it would still be regarded as an error in exams. ;-)

Casiopea
23-Oct-2003, 13:24
The other thing that is spreading in BE is the omission of the auxialiry verb 'have'. This is spreading outside dialect areas into wider circles, although it would still be regarded as an error in exams. ;-)

Yeah. I heard of that. Oops. I mean, I've heard of that. :D

I've read it has to do with phonetics; that speakers tend to reduce or omit the contracted form of 'have' (-'ve), pronounced as either [v] or [f], to [h], which is a productive sound change process in all of the World's languages.

Is it slang? I doubt it. It seems more like human physiology is at play. That is, in terms of ease of articulation, it's very economical to reduce the number of gestures it takes to pronounce a given sound.

Some have even suggested that [v] ~ [f] reducing to [h] started the whole Present Perfect and Simple Past merger. Hmm.

Cas :D

Cas :D

jwschang
23-Oct-2003, 18:17
The other thing that is spreading in BE is the omission of the auxialiry verb 'have'. This is spreading outside dialect areas into wider circles, although it would still be regarded as an error in exams. ;-)

Yeah. I heard of that. Oops. I mean, I've heard of that. :D

I've read it has to do with phonetics; that speakers tend to reduce or omit the contracted form of 'have' (-'ve), pronounced as either [v] or [f], to [h], which is a productive sound change process in all of the World's languages.

Is it slang? I doubt it. It seems more like human physiology is at play. That is, in terms of ease of articulation, it's very economical to reduce the number of gestures it takes to pronounce a given sound.

Some have even suggested that [v] ~ [f] reducing to [h] started the whole Present Perfect and Simple Past merger. Hmm.

Cas :D

Sounds ominous. Remember the Tower of Babel!! :roll:

jwschang
23-Oct-2003, 18:49
5. My conclusion (IMHO) is that there are contexts where there is no, or hardly any, difference between the two tenses, and others where the difference is intentional (conscious or otherwise).
Oh, I agree. It, also, describes the Simple Past (SP) and the Present Perfect (PP) as merging in certain contexts in Singapore English as well. Nice.
Cas :D

I think we have digressed somewhat from the original "story" that I heard from my checking up.

Which is, going back to the "rule": Within the same clause, the Simple Past is used with expressions of a specific time in the past, whereas the Present Perfect is used only with expressions of non-specific time in the past.

Is there any sort of concensus among us on this "rule"? :roll:

Tdol
23-Oct-2003, 19:30
I agree in general, although there are some exceptions, such as the AE use of the simple past with 'yet'. ;-)

Casiopea
24-Oct-2003, 01:37
Justice Calls:

I think we have digressed somewhat from the original "story" that I heard from my checking up.

Which is, going back to the "rule": Within the same clause, the Simple Past is used with expressions of a specific time in the past, whereas the Present Perfect is used only with expressions of non-specific time in the past.

Is there any sort of concensus among us on this "rule"? :roll:

Yup. Yes. I agree. Perfect definition. Perfect. :D We've come full circle.

jwschang
01-Nov-2003, 19:06
I agree in general, although there are some exceptions, such as the AE use of the simple past with 'yet'. ;-)

Myself having asked whether there was any consensus among us on the Present Perfect rule, my own conclusion is this.

1. The rule, stated in the way that I did, is inadequate for a proper understanding of it: "Within the same clause, the Simple Past is used with expressions of a specific time in the past, whereas the Present Perfect is used only with expressions of non-specific time in the past."

2. IMO, the use of the term "specific (or non-specific) time" is at the root of the non-understanding of this rule, and the debate arising from it. Plus the "view" that it is some diabolical conspiracy meant to confuse "Asians" (I don't know who can speak on behalf of "Asians", or "Chinese" for that matter).

3. Back to the examples that I first posted:

(a) I have seen Simon before. (OK)
(b)I have seen Simon yesterday. (not OK)
Have you eaten lunch?
(c)I have eaten lunch already. (OK)
(d)I have eaten lunch in the afternoon. (not OK)
(e)I have eaten lunch at three. (not OK)
(f) I have visited Dalian in July. (not OK)
(g) I have visited Dalian several times since I first arrived. (OK)

4. 3(g) is not in dispute because the "past expression" is in a subordinate clause.

5. Is "at three" more specific than "in the afternoon"? And is "in the afternoon" more specific than "before" or "already"? This is where the use of "specific" and "non-specific" leads us off-track, and causes the non-understanding and debate.

6. IMO the rule makes absolute sense, and derives from the very meaning of the Present Perfect tense (but, see (9) below.)

7. I understand the Present Perfect to express "(i) an action completed at the present time, or (ii) an action begun earlier and spanning a period up to the present time". So,

I have seen Simon yesterday. Not OK, because it means:
Yesterday I have seen Simon. It should be: Yesterday I saw Simon.

I cannot " Yesterday HAVE seen" Simon; whereas I can "at this moment of speaking HAVE seen" simon (an action completed AT THE PRESENT TIME, or an action begun earlier and spanning a period UP TO THE PRESENT TIME).

8. The PRESENT perfect is aptly named because it is about the PRESENT TIME (but aspect is PERFECT, i.e. COMPLETED or BEGUN EARLIER). So: I have seen Simon before. OK because it does not mean "Before I have seen Simon". Similarly: I have seen Simon already. OK because it does not mean "Already I have seen Simon".

9. IMO, the occasion that we may use the Present Perfect with a "specific past time expression" is where the meaning in context (as understood between, say, boss and salesman) is "Have you DONE your visit to Dalian FOR July?" when saying "Have you visited Dalian in July?". Of course, so much more concise to say "Did you visit Dalian for July?".

I hope I'm not adding to the "confusion". :roll:

jwschang
01-Nov-2003, 19:26
Justice Calls:

I think we have digressed somewhat from the original "story" that I heard from my checking up.

Which is, going back to the "rule": Within the same clause, the Simple Past is used with expressions of a specific time in the past, whereas the Present Perfect is used only with expressions of non-specific time in the past.

Is there any sort of concensus among us on this "rule"? :roll:

Yup. Yes. I agree. Perfect definition. Perfect. :D We've come full circle.

If I may add to my last post (to TDOL):

1."I have seen Simon yesterday" (not OK) vs "I have seen Simon before" (OK). Although "yesterday" and "before" both are adverbs of Time modifying "have seen", the meanings are very different.

2. "Yesterday" means yesterday, a TIME. "Before" means either "in the past" or "previously". In the sentence above, it clearly means "previously", not "in the past". Therefore, "I have seen Simon before/previously" is OK. :?:

jwschang
02-Nov-2003, 04:23
Come to think of it, I would change the definition of the Present Perfect to "an action already completed BY (not AT) the present time, or an action begun earlier and spanning a period UP TO the present time."

1. This would cover:
(a) I have seen Simon = BY NOW, I have seen Simon. ("Seeing" of Simon is done, completed, finished, over by now.) This also distinguishes it from the Past Perfect = By then, I had seen Simon.
(b) I have lived here since 2002 = From 2001 TILL NOW, I have lived here. ("Living here" is ongoing, not finished yet, not over yet, up to now.)

2. Using "already" in the definitions for the Present Perfect and the Past Perfect is useful because it means "by now" and "by then".

3. If the sentence uses words like "since" or "for", it still fits the Present Perfect "rule", because both words mean "from an earlier time till NOW (or then, if past perfect)" = over a PERIOD, not a "past time".
(a) I have seen Simon FOR the past two weeks = saw Simon a number of times, from two weeks ago till now.
(b) I have lived here SINCE 2001 = lived continuously from 2001 till now.

4. (a) Yesterday, I have seen him. (not OK)
(b) Yesterday, I saw him. (OK)

5. (a) I have seen him for the past two weeks = I saw him (a number of times) over the past two weeks (from two weeks ago till now). (OK)
(b) I saw him for the past two weeks. If meaning = I visited him (a number of times) over the past two weeks (from two weeks ago till now). (OK)

6. (a) I have seen him already. (OK)
(b) I saw him already. (not OK)
(c) I see him already. (not OK)

7. (a) I have seen him before (= previously). (OK)
(b) I saw him before (= previously). (not OK)
(c) I see him before. (not OK)

8. (a) I have seen him before this. (OK)
(b) I saw him before this. (OK)
(c) I see him before this. (not OK)

IMO, (6) and (7) are the occasions why we need to have the Present Perfect.

In 7, the adverb "before" modifies "have seen". In 8, it modifies "this". So 8 b "I saw him before this" = "I saw him (at a past time)", therefore Simple Past here is OK.

Casiopea
02-Nov-2003, 14:24
Before responding in full--which I'll do in just a moment-- I'd like to stop tape here so as to add to examples 3 (d), (e), and (f).

(d)I have eaten lunch in the afternoon. (not OK)
(e)I have eaten lunch at three. (not OK)
(f) I have visited Dalian in July. (not OK)

All of the above are OK iff we add "before":

(d)I have eaten lunch in the afternoon before. (OK)
(e)I have eaten lunch at three before. (OK)
(f) I have visited Dalian in July before. (OK)

The reason being, 'before' turns 'in the afternoon', 'at three', and 'in July'
into non-specific times: any afternoon, any three o'clock, and any July.

:D

Casiopea
02-Nov-2003, 15:09
I really liked what I read. It was well thought out not to mention showed you'd done your research. 8)

I've two comments:

1) What if, the Present Prefect has nothing whatsoever to do with Time (Tense)? What if, the Present Perfect's function is to focus on the event/action and not the time? If that's the case, then it stands to reason why adverbials which express Time/Tense aren't compatible with the Present Perfect.

Yesterday = When? The day before today. Ah! A specific day.
In the past = When? Uhm? Some time? Ah! A non-specific day.

2) What if,

Sam: "Have you visited Dalian in July?". (OK)
Pat: "I've visited Dalian in July. (OK) meaning, any one July, this year's, last year's, two years ago July, and so on.

Compare:

Pat: I have visited Dalian in July (July two months ago). (not OK)

When 'in July' modfies a Present Perfect verb, the resulting meaning is that 'July' is any one of many Julys, not a specific July. The Present Perfect isn't compatible with adverbs that express TIME (specific time), but if such TIME adverbs can be expressed as non-specific, then they're compatible:

I've been there in July. (any July) (OK)
I've been there in July of this year. (a specific July) (not OK)

In short, the Present Perfect is not a Tense, so why attempt to modify its verbs with adverbs denoting Tense? (Psst, that's a Q for Shun). We wouldn't, of course. If we did, we'd get an ungrammatical result:

I have been there yesterday. (a specific day) (not OK)

Adverbs denoting Tense are compatible only with verbs denoting Tense.

I was there yesterday. (a specific day) (OK)

Adverbs not denoting Tense are compatible with verbs not denoting Tense.

I have been there in the past. (When? Some time.) (OK)

Present Perfect verbs have nothing to do with Tense. When deciding which adverb is compatible, ask the question "When is (adverb)?". If the answer is too complicated to compute, then you know the adverb is compatible.

I have seen him in the past few weeks.
Q: When is 'the past few weeks'?
A: Well, let's see. Today is 3-Nov, and 'few weeks' is three weeks, about, and if we substract three weeks from today, we'll get..., let' me look at my calendar to check. :shock: It's complicated. Computing non-specific time is complicated. :cry:

Compare:

I saw him yesterday.
Q: When is yesterday?
A: It's the day before today. Computing specific time is easy :D

Casiopea
02-Nov-2003, 15:18
Although "yesterday" and "before" both are adverbs of Time modifying "have seen", the meanings are very different.

On the contrary, 'before' is not an adverb of Tense. :D That's why it's compatible with the Present Perfect.

"I have seen Simon before/previously" (OK)

'yesterday' is an adverb of Tense, and the reason why it's not compatible with the Present Perfect.

"I saw Simon before." (not OK)

Adverbs denoting time are divided into two groups:

1) adverbs denoting specific time, called Tense/Time (i.e. yesterday)
2) adverbs denoting non-specific time, called aspectual (i.e. before)

Adverbs belonging to group 2) are compatible with the Present Perfect Aspect.

In general,
Tense modifies Tense (Simple Past)
Aspect modifies Aspect (Present Perfect)

:D :D :D

jwschang
02-Nov-2003, 17:09
(d)I have eaten lunch in the afternoon. (not OK)
(e)I have eaten lunch at three. (not OK)
(f) I have visited Dalian in July. (not OK)

All of the above are OK iff we add "before":

(d)I have eaten lunch in the afternoon before. (OK)
(e)I have eaten lunch at three before. (OK)
(f) I have visited Dalian in July before. (OK)

The reason being, 'before' turns 'in the afternoon', 'at three', and 'in July'
into non-specific times: any afternoon, any three o'clock, and any July.
:D

1. I was thinking of not using the distinction between "specific" and "non-specific time" as the reasoning to validate the rule, because while this distinction is correct, it is difficult to demonstrate. Which makes it less than convincing to anyone who thinks there's a conspiracy behind it!!!

2. I agree with you re the examples after adding "before": the "past time expression" becomes "parenthetic" in a sense.
(d) "I have eaten lunch (in the afternoon) before" is equivalent (grammar-wise) to "I have eaten lunch (in the presidential suite) before". With or without "before", the adverb phrase "in the afternoon" remains as such BUT in the latter case the adverb phrase is further modified by the adverb "before", and the meaning changes. :wink:

jwschang
02-Nov-2003, 17:28
Although "yesterday" and "before" both are adverbs of Time modifying "have seen", the meanings are very different.
On the contrary, 'before' is not an adverb of Tense. :D That's why it's compatible with the Present Perfect.

"I have seen Simon before/previously" (OK)

'yesterday' is an adverb of Tense, and the reason why it's not compatible with the Present Perfect.

"I saw Simon before." (not OK)

Adverbs denoting time are divided into two groups:
1) adverbs denoting specific time, called Tense/Time (i.e. yesterday)
2) adverbs denoting non-specific time, called aspectual (i.e. before)

Adverbs belonging to group 2) are compatible with the Present Perfect Aspect.
In general,
Tense modifies Tense (Simple Past)
Aspect modifies Aspect (Present Perfect)
:D :D :D

Agreed. As a layman, I use "Adverb of Time" in the broad sense to cover both types. There is a difference between the "time" as denoted by "yesterday" and that denoted by "before", which is the difference in their meaning.

I have done this in the past = I have done this before, but not = I have done this yesterday/in July/etc.
Thanks for the clarification. :wink:

jwschang
02-Nov-2003, 17:51
I really liked what I read. It was well thought out not to mention showed you'd done your research. 8)

I've two comments:

1) What if, the Present Prefect has nothing whatsoever to do with Time (Tense)? What if, the Present Perfect's function is to focus on the event/action and not the time? If that's the case, then it stands to reason why adverbials which express Time/Tense aren't compatible with the Present Perfect.
Yesterday = When? The day before today. Ah! A specific day.
In the past = When? Uhm? Some time? Ah! A non-specific day.
Agree. One is speciic, the other not (= SOME time in the past).

2) What if,
Sam: "Have you visited Dalian in July?". (OK)
Pat: "I've visited Dalian in July. (OK) meaning, any one July, this year's, last year's, two years ago July, and so on.
Agree. This one is clear-cut, if the speakers means any "month of July". I think Ronbee used this example also.

Compare:
Pat: I have visited Dalian in July (July two months ago). (not OK)

When 'in July' modfies a Present Perfect verb, the resulting meaning is that 'July' is any one of many Julys, not a specific July. The Present Perfect isn't compatible with adverbs that express TIME (specific time), but if such TIME adverbs can be expressed as non-specific, then they're compatible:
I've been there in July. (any July) (OK)
I've been there in July of this year. (a specific July) (not OK)
Agree.

In short, the Present Perfect is not a Tense, so why attempt to modify its verbs with adverbs denoting Tense? (Psst, that's a Q for Shun). We wouldn't, of course. If we did, we'd get an ungrammatical result:

I have been there yesterday. (a specific day) (not OK)
Or put it as: Yesterday, I have been there. (very clearly not OK)

Adverbs denoting Tense are compatible only with verbs denoting Tense.
I was there yesterday. (a specific day) (OK)

Adverbs not denoting Tense are compatible with verbs not denoting Tense.
I have been there in the past. (When? Some time.) (OK)

Present Perfect verbs have nothing to do with Tense.(This here is difficult to explain, esp to students, I think) When deciding which adverb is compatible, ask the question "When is (adverb)?". If the answer is too complicated to compute, then you know the adverb is compatible.

I have seen him in the past few weeks.
Q: When is 'the past few weeks'?
A: Well, let's see. Today is 3-Nov, and 'few weeks' is three weeks, about, and if we substract three weeks from today, we'll get..., let' me look at my calendar to check. :shock: It's complicated. Computing non-specific time is complicated. :cry:

Compare:
I saw him yesterday.
Q: When is yesterday?
A: It's the day before today. Computing specific time is easy :D

You and me (don't anyone ask me to use "I" here! or should I?) are agreed on the correct usage of the present perfect, from the start, I think. But all the discussion did make things clearer still. :wink:

RonBee
03-Nov-2003, 17:27
You and I agree. You and me don't.

:wink:

Alex1
11-Nov-2005, 19:52
[
I shouldn't have opened this can of worms!! :roll:[/QUOTE]

Maybe you shouldn't. It did become (or should I say 'has become'?) more confusing.

After all this discussion the idea of the following passage seems quite appealing. Would it be possible to suggest some addition regarding the issue of the Past Simple - Present Perfect? ;-)

Euro-English

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English
spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in
plan that would become known as "Euro-English".
In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will
make the sivil servants jump with joy.

The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up
konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the
troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like
fotograf 20% shorter. *

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to
reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have
always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is
disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th"
with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining
"ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu
understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.


In light of the discussion at hand, don't you think that one of this confusing tenses should be dropped entirely (preferably Present Perfect)? :roll: ;-)

Tdol
12-Nov-2005, 08:57
Why not. Getting rid of the -s in the third erson present would make life easier too. ;-)

rhapsomatrics
09-Jan-2006, 19:14
There is definitely a grey area- in the example I gave, it sounds a bit uncomfortable to my ears, but I wouldn't call it wrong. The two uses are acceptable. I think the general tendency is to use the PP less. ;-)




In my opinion,I do not think that using less of the PP would solve the problem(if at all it is one).I think there is a simple way out of this usage impasse.The simple past or past simple expresses a finished or completed "job" which has no current relevance or import.However,the present perfect expresses,also,a complete or finished "job" but with a current relevance.In other words,the present perfect seeks to connect the past to the present.For example,"I ate" and "I have eaten"...
The first sentence suggests a complete action in the past which could be immediate or remote."I HAVE EATEN" probably suggests that I can no longer eat anything as the one I ate has not yet digested...(connecting the past to the present)...the time I ate and now(that I speak)are connected.
"I saw him"...complete and past
"I have seen him"...I not only saw him but also is he at sight.
"I have seen him before'...the memory still lingers thereby giving the past action a current import.
"She came"...who knows,she may have probably left...
'She has come"...could mean she is here...(link)
"She has been here before"...though the action is past,I can still remember it vividly(link)

Tdol
18-Jan-2006, 06:26
It's not a problem for native speakers, but it is for many learners as many languages don't have this distinction. However, as a native speaker, I like it. ;-)

junnyj
07-Feb-2006, 12:50
thank u so much