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    #1

    Smile tenses denoting completion

    Dear teacher, how are you:
    could you tell me which one of the following sentence denoting completion? (or neither)
    I read Hamlet last night.
    I have read Hamlet.
    In my opinion, neither of them denote completion, semantically. It could be I just began reading Hamlet. am I right?
    thank you very much

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: tenses denoting completion

    Quote Originally Posted by guzhao67 View Post
    Dear teacher, how are you:
    could you tell me which one of the following sentence denoting completion? (or neither)
    I read Hamlet last night.
    I have read Hamlet.
    In my opinion, neither of them denote completion, semantically. It could be I just began reading Hamlet. am I right?
    thank you very much
    "I have read Hamlet" certainly suggests that at some time in your life you have read the whole of "Hamlet", in other words, completed it.
    "I read Hamlet last night", on the other hand, is less certain. I think it could suggest completion, but it could also suggest that you started it or read a bit of it.


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    #3

    Re: tenses denoting completion

    Not a teacher.
    That’s a good question. In my opinion I would say ‘I read Hamlet last night’ is a bit ambiguous. It seems to indicate you have completed Hamlet otherwise one would say something like ‘I read the first chapter of Hamlet last night’ to indicate the completed proportion. ‘I have read Hamlet’ to me means you have completed it. I’m not 100% sure though.


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    #4

    Re: tenses denoting completion

    Quote Originally Posted by guzhao67 View Post
    Dear teacher, how are you:
    could you tell me which one of the following sentence denoting completion? (or neither)
    I read Hamlet last night.
    I have read Hamlet.
    In my opinion, neither of them denote completion, semantically. It could be I just began reading Hamlet. am I right?
    thank you very much
    To me they both imply completion. "I was reading Hamlet last night," on the other hand, leaves it unclear as to whether or not you completed it.

    Of course, there may still be some slight uncertainty lurking in the first of your sentences. If in a courtroom I were to ask a witness if he had ever finished Hamlet and he said, "I read Hamlet last night," I might still follow up with, "And did you actually finish Hamlet?"
    Last edited by kfredson; 31-Mar-2010 at 18:01.

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