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Could you help me resolve an issue with Past Simple or Present Perfect or is it present perfect simple
The lights WERE switched on today...Past simple
The lights HAVE BEEN switched on today...Present perfect
Could you please tell me which version is grammatically correct or are both correct for British English and why. Thank you
Not necessarily. This simply implies that at some time today, the lights were switched on.The lights HAVE BEEN switched on today...Present perfect The lights are still on at the moment of speaking about them.
Father (home from work): I told you kids you couldn't watch TV until your homework was done!
Kids: We weren't watching TV!
Father (feeling the TV): It's still warm. This TV has been switched on today.
To the original poster: They are both correct, and they can both mean several things.
Dear Engee20 and Raymott,
From the above two interpretations, it tells me that both the sentences could give the same meaning in one or the another interpretation. Then, that does mean that, here, the essence of keeping the sentence in simple past or in present perfect is immaterial? Please explicate.
Thank you for your comments thus far.
I was under the impression like Kiran, that the time element in the statement dictated the tense to be used.
‘today’, ‘this week’, ‘this year’…are all present
‘at 5pm’, ‘last week’, ‘last year’…are all past
With British English the rules are stricter, if an action in the past is relevant now then present perfect. Is it not true that present perfect focuses on the result of the action and not the action per se?
The action of SWITCHED and the lights ON are still relevant now ‘today’.
I accept that both are correct under the American English not so strict a rule but what of British English.
Does this then mean I can say?
We have not been told that the lights have been turned off.
We have not been told that the lights were turned off.
We were not told that the lights have been turned off.
We were not told that the lights were turned off.
If you then accept that, the lights being on, is a result of the action, which is relevant and they continue to be on, is this not present perfect continuous.
You can use adverbs of time with the present perfect tense - just not
adverbs which give a specific time that the event occurred. The focus of the present perfect is on the present.
'Today' (in this case) does not specify the time the lights were switched on. What it does is specify the time period (the domain) over which the whole sentence is to be considered.
For example, consider this conversation:
A: Have you had breakfast? (Present perfect, since the time of having breakfast is not relevant)
A: Are you sure? Where are the plates, and why is the kettle cold?
B: Oh, I haven't had breakfast today. I meant I had breakfast yesterday.
Now, B is being perverse. B is not following normal pragmatic discourse conventions. A means today because people normal have breakfast every day. B should have understood that the domain of the question was 'today', or 'this morning'. You should be able to see the two different types of time adverb.
A cannot say "Have you had breakfast at 7.23 am"? (Specifying a time)
A can say "Have you had breakfast yet this morning?" (Limiting the time domain under question).
Similarly, you can say "Have you been to London in the past 10 years?"
But you can't say: "Have you been to London on 23rd August last year?"