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shun
31-May-2004, 21:54
Of course everyone eats. But why do we sometimes say we ate or we have eaten? Do we not eat anymore?

You opinion is welcome.

Shun Tang

Tdol
01-Jun-2004, 01:15
I ate yesterday- unchangeable historical fact.
I haven't eaten dinner yet- changeable.
;-)

shun
01-Jun-2004, 04:02
I ate yesterday- unchangeable historical fact.
I haven't eaten dinner yet- changeable.
;-)

I agree. It is a good explanation.

But for the time being I don't want to use "yesterday" to interfere Simple Past and I didn't want to use negative sentence for discussion.

Why can I say the three tenses at the present? Or I cannot? Are they different?
Ex: I eat dinner.
Ex: I ate dinner.
Ex: I have eaten dinner.

Shun

RonBee
01-Jun-2004, 23:54
I ate yesterday- unchangeable historical fact.
I haven't eaten dinner yet- changeable.
;-)

I agree. It is a good explanation.

But for the time being I don't want to use "yesterday" to interfere Simple Past and I didn't want to use negative sentence for discussion.

Why can I say the three tenses at the present? Or I cannot? Are they different?
Ex: I eat dinner.
Ex: I ate dinner.
Ex: I have eaten dinner.

Shun

The first sentence states a habitual action. The second sentence states a simple fact. The third sentence relates the past to the present. (Presumably, because the person has eaten he does not wish to eat again.)

Does that help?

:)

shun
02-Jun-2004, 00:00
I ate yesterday- unchangeable historical fact.
I haven't eaten dinner yet- changeable.
;-)

I agree. It is a good explanation.

But for the time being I don't want to use "yesterday" to interfere Simple Past and I didn't want to use negative sentence for discussion.

Why can I say the three tenses at the present? Or I cannot? Are they different?
Ex: I eat dinner.
Ex: I ate dinner.
Ex: I have eaten dinner.

Shun

The first sentence states a habitual action. The second sentence states a simple fact. The third sentence relates the past to the present. (Presumably, because the person has eaten he does not wish to eat again.)

Does that help?

:)

I guess not, because the fact is tomorrow I still eat. Therefore, I have no reason to use Simple Past or Present Perfect, according to your explanation.
:roll:

Shun

RonBee
02-Jun-2004, 00:39
You can't say you eat tomorrow. You have to say you will eat tomorrow. However, you can say, for example, "We eat at eight" with "eight" being a time in the future.

:)

Tdol
02-Jun-2004, 09:59
Maybe the problem is that these sentences are too decontextualised. Alone the past and the present poerfect make little sense. However, the past simple would be plugged intopast events and the present perfect plugged into now. ;-)

shun
02-Jun-2004, 10:06
You can't say you eat tomorrow. You have to say you will eat tomorrow. However, you can say, for example, "We eat at eight" with "eight" being a time in the future.

:)
Yes, we usually do. If something we are sure to do, we can skip auxiliary like will.

Besides, I have eaten dinner and I ate dinner is part of the I eat dinner. It is illogical that we treat some dinner in the past as not belonging the routine I eat dinner. Therefore, at the present, I can use any tense to refer to the dinner, though I don't know why.

shun
02-Jun-2004, 11:22
Maybe the problem is that these sentences are too decontextualised. Alone the past and the present poerfect make little sense. However, the past simple would be plugged intopast events and the present perfect plugged into now. ;-)
Thank you for your supposition. I will be more grateful if you may give a little more explanations for decontextualised, plugged into past, plugged into now. For example, how can I have eaten dinner be plugged into the present? I don't know anythng about these jargons. :roll:

Tdol
03-Jun-2004, 02:16
The present perfect always has a relation to the present time, so a single sentence without further information is 'decontextualised'. 'Plugged in' is not a technical term, but makes sense to me. If I say 'I have eaten dinner' in answer to 'Are you hungry', the past action of eating is relevant now because it tells the other person that I am not hungry. In building a connection with now, it is,in the terms I used, plugged into now. ;-)

shun
03-Jun-2004, 10:30
The present perfect always has a relation to the present time, so a single sentence without further information is 'decontextualised'.
Then every tense is decontextualised as it must have a relation to the present time. By the time we use a tense, it must have a relation to the present time. It goes without saying.

It follows that every tense is plugged in the present. The twin towers collapsed in 911 is a past for example, but as we mention it now, it is plugged in to the present. Those who claim the case, in Simple Past, has no relation to the present must be out of his mind. By the way, I am sure that Simple Past "I ate dinner" can answer 'Are you hungry'.

Then the three tenses are all plugged in the present, as all are used by the present time:
I eat dinner.
I have eaten dinner.
I ate dinner.
As you said, they all are decontextualised, so it is puzzling why we can use every tense to refer to the present. :(

Tdol
03-Jun-2004, 14:15
If something is plugged in, it has a direct connection. The past has a relation of contrast woith the present, but the relation is broken by the use of the tense. The present perfect bridges past and present. ;-)

shun
03-Jun-2004, 16:06
If something is plugged in, it has a direct connection. The past has a relation of contrast woith the present, but the relation is broken by the use of the tense. The present perfect bridges past and present. ;-)

Do you mean I have eaten dinner means I am still eating now? Or what? Try to tell me and let me check Simple Past I ate dinner.

On the other hand, Simple Present really bridges past and present, because my present habit I eat dinner comes from the past.

What a confusion and hardship in the basic part of English!! :cry:

RonBee
03-Jun-2004, 17:09
Tdol: Ron, are you hungry?
Ron: No, I ate dinner just an hour ago.

:)

shun
03-Jun-2004, 20:32
Tdol: Ron, are you hungry?
Ron: No, I ate dinner just an hour ago.

:)

What does this commonest dialogue tell use? :P

Tdol
03-Jun-2004, 21:31
It tells us that we use the past with 'ago'. ;-)

Tdol
03-Jun-2004, 21:33
Do you mean I have eaten dinner means I am still eating now? Or what? Try to tell me and let me check Simple Past I ate dinner.

If I say I have eaten dinner, I am describing a past action that I see as having current significance. I am not eating dinner, but I am probably digesting it.

On the other hand, Simple Present really bridges past and present, because my present habit I eat dinner comes from the past.

The simple present can be seen as existing outside time or as being of the past, present and future. ;-)

shun
04-Jun-2004, 08:39
If I say I have eaten dinner, I am describing a past action that I see as having current significance. I am not eating dinner, but I am probably digesting it.
I find it often that when you explain one tense, you seldom do comparison with others, while it is my intention to compare them. You usually wait for me to do the job. If you do some comparison, you will not say such thing as above. What is then about Simple Past? Are you sure that if yesterday there was a great earthquake in our place that claimed many lives, because of Simple Past, it is of no current significance? It is absurd that we use a tense to denote it is of no current significance at the present?
If it is not significance to the present, why do I say it at all?
If it is not significance to the present, I don't care about what has been said?

I guess you want to say Simple Past expresses of course current significance, but much more than Present Perfect. But why didn't you speak up? If people do comparison themselves, they will not talk about current significance or current relevancy.
----------------------

I realized a case of habit:

On the other hand, Simple Present really bridges past and present, because my present habit I eat dinner comes from the past.
And you took it as the usual way of all Simple Present cases:

The simple present can be seen as existing outside time or as being of the past, present and future. ;-)
It is simply not true. You know of the manner of a dinner, so you describe about it and take it as the function of Simple Past. That is, you have over-generalized a case of Simple Present. However, what about the usual Simple-Present uses being always seen in newspapers:

Ex1: Recent polls show Bush’s standing with the public has weakened as Americans.....
Ex2: Several groups, including the National Abortion Federation and the Center for Reproductive Rights, plan to challenge the measure in court as soon as it is signed into law.
Ex3: The reality remains that Tung [Hong Kong Governor] will be at the helm until and unless Beijing leaders think otherwise.
Ex4: The 30 new candidates come from around the world, from Australia to Zagreb, Vietnam to Venice, and on the whole follow John Paul’s conservative bent.
Ex5: Seventy percent of Americans support a ban on partial-birth abortion.
Ex6: Italy’s U.N. Ambassador Marcello Spatafora, whose country holds the EU presidency, moved between the two groups, sometimes with the British or French ambassadors alongside......

They happen today, the day the news printed. How can anyone ever regard them as, in your words, "existing outside time or as being of the past, present and future"? Not everything in Simple Present is dinner, and this is a big problem to your explanation.

Why can we say the three tenses at the present is a mystery:
I ate dinner.
I have eaten dinner.
I eat dinner.

shun
04-Jun-2004, 08:45
It tells us that we use the past with 'ago'. ;-)

What then is the difference between the use of the three tenses?

Tdol
04-Jun-2004, 13:27
I eat dinner at eight- statement of fact, implying that this is my normal time for dinner.

I ate dinner at eight- statemnt about dinner on an occasion in the past. This does not implyu that this is my usual time.

I have eaten dinner- a recent past action

shun
04-Jun-2004, 18:34
I eat dinner at eight- statement of fact, implying that this is my normal time for dinner.

I ate dinner at eight- statemnt about dinner on an occasion in the past. This does not implyu that this is my usual time.

I have eaten dinner- a recent past action
As you mentioned "statement of fact" to Simple Past, are you aware that Simple Present and Present Perfect here are also statements of fact? Is habit not a fact? Of course it is. Therefore, the information of "statement of fact" is redundant. FACT is not the characteristic only applicable to Simple Past.

Also, does Simple Past mean that my normal time for dinner is not at eight anymore? I don't think so. As you must agree, even my normal time for dinner is STILL at eight, we are permitted to say I ate dinner at eight. This is the point we have been talking about: to the same routine, we can say I eat dinner at eight or I ate dinner at eight.

Unfortunately, we cannot now compare also with Present Perfect. As we can see, we are not able to put "at eight" to the Present Perfect here. You have answered my question about comparison by changing it to a situation in which we cannot compare the three of them at once. So I want to go back my original situation: Why can we say the three tenses at the present:
I ate dinner.
I have eaten dinner.
I eat dinner.

RonBee
04-Jun-2004, 19:47
All language occurs within some kind of context. It is only within context that a word or a sentence truly makes sense.

:)

Tdol
04-Jun-2004, 23:02
"Also, does Simple Past mean that my normal time for dinner is not at eight anymore? I don't think so. As you must agree, even my normal time for dinner is STILL at eight, we are permitted to say I ate dinner at eight. This is the point we have been talking about: to the same routine, we can say I eat dinner at eight or I ate dinner at eight. "

This is utterly irrelevant- I didn't say it was not my normal time; I said it didn't imply that it was my normal time. There is nothing whatsoever in the sentence to imply that this is my normal time. We cannot say 'I eat dinner at eight or I ate dinner at eight' and mean the same thing, otherwise we wouldn't have the two forms. You seem out to prove something that makes no logical sense- there are genuine differences between the tense. Trying to prove that there are no differences is basically a waste of effort. Trying to understand the differences makes more sense. ;-)

shun
05-Jun-2004, 14:02
You seem out to prove something that makes no logical sense- there are genuine differences between the tense. Trying to prove that there are no differences is basically a waste of effort. Trying to understand the differences makes more sense.
But how to understand the difference? That is the point. As you claimed Simple Past to be statement of fact, for example, it is also a waste of effort. Do you mean Simple Present I eat dinner is not a fact? Present Perfect I have eaten dinner is not a fact? Yes, all these are statements of fact. Therefore, to link statement of fact only to Simple Past is misleading and redundant.

I say, if these structures have genuine differences, you failed to tell clearly to us. Of course I am trying to understand the differences. Therefore, your suggestion that "Trying to understand the differences makes more sense" is also a redundancy. :)
Asking about the differences more clearly is not proving there are no differences. It is a simple logic. People around here are asking some one point of grammar, so does this mean that they are proving that there is no such point?

As you claimed, "The simple present can be seen as existing outside time or as being of the past, present and future." According to you, therefore, regardless of time, at any moment we may usually say I eat dinner, rather than I have eaten dinner. However, it seems possible we do sometimes say it in Present Perfect I have eaten dinner, and sometimes even Simple Past I ate dinner. But if this is true that we can talk about the routine in Simple Past or Present Perfect, then the routine is proven not "existing outside time or as being of the past, present and future." Actually, there is no such routine. It follows that Simple Present doesn't denote such a routine that doesn't exist.

I am here to accept logical explanation, rather than picking up any redundancy being thrown to me. We are here discussing whether an explanation is reasonable or not. We call here "forum".

Tdol
05-Jun-2004, 15:31
I have dinner at eight o'clock yesterday.

Fine? ;-)

shun
05-Jun-2004, 16:26
I have dinner at eight o'clock yesterday.

Fine? ;-)

No, I don't think so.

shun
06-Jun-2004, 12:13
All language occurs within some kind of context. It is only within context that a word or a sentence truly makes sense.

:)
Is this the start, or is this the end, of your suggestion? :)

What I mean is, do you have some details?

Tdol
06-Jun-2004, 21:42
This?
http://www.usingenglish.com/poll/index.php?poll_id=78
;-)

shun
06-Jun-2004, 22:20
This?
http://www.usingenglish.com/poll/index.php?poll_id=78
;-)
The whole thing in the link is:

No text is free of other texts.- Ferdinand de Saussure
Some detail!! :P

I hope you understand, if the context is that important and real, all the messages you people have provided me before here are futile. On the other hand, I don't know how the context functions in your mind. Further, Ferdinand's sense of humor is he puts his text "No text is free of other texts" next to nothing. His text is free of other texts, and we still believe his contradictory, don't we? He is speaking against his own self, and we still believe him, don't we? Or else, the person who has cut off "No text is free of other texts" from Ferdinand's context must be insulting his intelligence.

But he who will quote the link must be very intelligent, I am sure.
:wink:

RonBee
09-Jun-2004, 15:36
All language occurs within some kind of context. It is only within context that a word or a sentence truly makes sense.

:)
Is this the start, or is this the end, of your suggestion? :)

What I mean is, do you have some details?

It is, I think, the start. For example, "I ate at eight" has no real meaning unless we know who "I" is and why he or she is talking about having eaten.

:)

RonBee
09-Jun-2004, 16:04
"Words are never used in isolation. In organic use the meaning of a word is inevitably affected by its context, which includes at the very least the other words that surround it in a sentence or a paragraph or a lengthy discourse, and actually a great deal more."
-------Louis B. Solomon, Professor of English at Brooklyn College
http://www.answering-islam.org/Campbell/s1c1.html

:)

shun
09-Jun-2004, 18:27
"Words are never used in isolation. In organic use the meaning of a word is inevitably affected by its context, which includes at the very least the other words that surround it in a sentence or a paragraph or a lengthy discourse, and actually a great deal more."
-------Louis B. Solomon, Professor of English at Brooklyn College
http://www.answering-islam.org/Campbell/s1c1.html

:)

We have heard enough from you how good is the context. But the details are only some quotations. Please explain how the context decides the three tenses. :?

RonBee
09-Jun-2004, 19:54
Context is neither good nor bad. It just is. It is what determines the meaning of a word or sentence. As for tense, it is how we say what we want to say.

:)

Tdol
09-Jun-2004, 21:53
The context will provide the necessary details to know what the speaker means by the statement. It could be declining an offer of food, but it could just as easily be a way of explaining a habit, etc. These would affect the choices made of tense. ;-)

shun
10-Jun-2004, 07:47
The context will provide the necessary details to know what the speaker means by the statement. It could be declining an offer of food, but it could just as easily be a way of explaining a habit, etc. These would affect the choices made of tense. ;-)

Personally, I cannot get anything from your context, as there are no further examples for explanation. Somehow, however, I believe this vagueness is used temporarily to solve the difference of "I eat/have eaten/ate dinner".

Next time, you still prefer to say something like:

I ate yesterday- unchangeable historical fact.
I haven't eaten dinner yet- changeable. :D

Anyway, thank you very much for the answer.

Shun Tang