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  1. #1
    vectra's Avatar
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    Default Present Perfect vs Past Simple

    Hello,

    Why is Present Perfect is used in the first part of the following sentence:
    'In past downturns I've done well, but this downturn has me stumped.'

    Is it because 'in past downturns' can be changed for something like 'so far'?
    The reason for the question is that my students might say that the word 'past' is a typical marker for Past Simple, and here we use Present Perfect.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Present Perfect vs Past Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by vectra View Post
    Hello,

    Why is Present Perfect is used in the first part of the following sentence:
    'In past downturns I've done well, but this downturn has me stumped.'

    Is it because 'in past downturns' can be changed for something like 'so far'?
    That's right. The person is talking about an ongoing situation. Even though it's not continuous, he's talking about his performance during downturns.
    The reason for the question is that my students might say that the word 'past' is a typical marker for Past Simple, and here we use Present Perfect.
    They might. You'd need to tell them not to think so literally.
    (Actually, I'd question whether the word 'past' in a sentence is an indication that the sentence should be in the past simple. I'm sure you're not teaching them that.)
    If your students say, "The word "past" is an indication that the past tense should be used", you can point out the contradiction inherent in that statement.
    "Your past will be taken into account."

    Thank you in advance.
    R.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Present Perfect vs Past Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by vectra View Post
    The reason for the question is that my students might say that the word 'past' is a typical marker for Past Simple, and here we use Present Perfect.
    Here it's an adjective, so there's no reason to link it automatically to the Past Simple.

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Present Perfect vs Past Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Here it's an adjective, so there's no reason to link it automatically to the Past Simple.
    And 'past' is a noun in "Your past will be taken into account".
    It's a preposition in "He is walking past the post office".

    The point is not what part of speech 'past' is in the sentence. 'Past' is only relavent if it is part of the metalanguage describing the sentence (the grammar), not if it is simply part of the vocabulary of the sentence.

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    Default Re: Present Perfect vs Past Simple

    The situation with this sentence is more or less clear.
    But here is another sentence on the heels of the first one: 'For more highly educated workers, finanace may no longer offer as many high-paying jobs as it has in the past.'
    Do I have to interpret 'as it has in the past' as 'so far' too?
    I meant to post both these two sentences in this post, but could not find the second one on my hard drive at the time. I hope I am not violating the rules of the forum by adding a new question to the post.

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    Default Re: Present Perfect vs Past Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by vectra View Post
    The situation with this sentence is more or less clear.
    But here is another sentence on the heels of the first one: 'For more highly educated workers, finanace may no longer offer as many high-paying jobs as it has in the past.'
    Do I have to interpret 'as it has in the past' as 'so far' too?
    In that particular example, I (a speaker of the present-perfect-loving BrE dialect) would say, 'as it did in the past'. However, I can see that others might interpret this as 'so far, until now'.

    For speakers of BrE there are some situations in which 99% of us would use the past simple; there are others in which 99% of us would use the present perfect. There are some, however, where different speakers 'feel' the situation in different ways, and there is not one absolutely correct answer.

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    Default Re: Present Perfect vs Past Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by vectra View Post
    The situation with this sentence is more or less clear.
    But here is another sentence on the heels of the first one: 'For more highly educated workers, finanace may no longer offer as many high-paying jobs as it has in the past.'
    Do I have to interpret 'as it has in the past' as 'so far' too?
    I meant to post both these two sentences in this post, but could not find the second one on my hard drive at the time. I hope I am not violating the rules of the forum by adding a new question to the post.
    I'd also say 'did' here - maybe.
    However, finance offering jobs is something that is ongoing. There has been (was) no interruption. Finance (has) offered jobs in the past, and is still doing so, though not to the same extent.

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