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  1. #1
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    Default The Hidden Evidence: The Past Family

    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.

  2. #2
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    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.

  3. #3
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    WoW! Is this true? Is Shun that good?

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    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?

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    Default Re: The Hidden Evidence: The Past Family

    Quote Originally Posted by shun
    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.]

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    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.

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    Default Re: The Hidden Evidence: The Past Family

    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.

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    Default Re: The Hidden Evidence: The Past Family

    Quote Originally Posted by shun
    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.

    :)

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    I agree.

  10. #10
    jwschang Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by shun
    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?

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