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  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
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    ex)The unemployment rate has increased for the past 2 years?

    In the following examples, are only the first ones correct, not the ones in the parenthesis? My grammar book says for completion verbs, the first one means continuous action, but the second one means completed action. Can you tell me the difference?

    ex)The unemployment rate has been increasing(has increased) for the past 2 years.
    Jim and Harry have been building(have built) friendship for the last 5 years.
    He has been writing(has written) his first novel since he was fifteen.

  2. #2
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    Re: ex)The unemployment rate has increased for the past 2 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    In the following examples, are only the first ones correct, not the ones in the parenthesis? My grammar book says for completion verbs, the first one means continuous action, but the second one means completed action. Can you tell me the difference?

    ex)The unemployment rate has been increasing(has increased) for the past 2 years.
    Jim and Harry have been building(have built) friendship for the last 5 years.
    He has been writing(has written) his first novel since he was fifteen.
    The unemployment rate has been increasing(has increased) for the past 2 years. Has been increasing = It might not have stopped increasing yet. Has increased = It has probably stopped increasing.
    Jim and Harry have been building(have built) a friendship for the last 5 years. Have been building = The process of building is continuing. Have built = The process has finished.
    He has been writing(has written) his first novel since he was fifteen. "Has written" is incorrect.

  3. #3
    keannu's Avatar
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    Re: ex)The unemployment rate has increased for the past 2 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    The unemployment rate has been increasing(has increased) for the past 2 years. Has been increasing = It might not have stopped increasing yet. Has increased = It has probably stopped increasing.
    Jim and Harry have been building(have built) a friendship for the last 5 years. Have been building = The process of building is continuing. Have built = The process has finished.
    He has been writing(has written) his first novel since he was fifteen. "Has written" is incorrect.
    Thanks, but for "has increased" of the first example, if the action already completed, isn't it kind of awkward to use "for the past 2 years" as it means a continuous state of the action?
    I mean, "has increased" happened as a completed action, and "for" has the nuance of continuity, so the two are contradictory. But are they still compatible?

  4. #4
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    Re: ex)The unemployment rate has increased for the past 2 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Thanks, but for "has increased" of the first example, if the action already completed, isn't it kind of awkward to use "for the past 2 years" as it means a continuous state of the action?
    I mean, "has increased" happened as a completed action, and "for" has the nuance of continuity, so the two are contradictory. But are they still compatible?
    "Has increased for the past two years" means it increased over a period of two years up to the present time.

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    Re: ex)The unemployment rate has increased for the past 2 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Thanks, but for "has increased" of the first example, if the action already completed, isn't it kind of awkward to use "for the past 2 years" as it means a continuous state of the action?
    I mean, "has increased" happened as a completed action, and "for" has the nuance of continuity, so the two are contradictory. But are they still compatible?
    Verb forms alone do not often give precise time limits and durations. Context and co-text also help.

    In your first sentence, note the words I have underlined in bhasahab's comment:

    1. The unemployment rate has been increasing(has increased) for the past 2 years. Has been increasing = It might not have stopped increasing yet. Has increased = It has probably stopped increasing.

    2. Jim and Harry have been building(have built) a friendship for the last 5 years. Have been building = The process of building is continuing. Have built = The process has finished.

    I do not disagree with bhai's comments, though I think that I would add the 'might' and 'probably' from the previous example.

    New example:
    3. Jim and Harry have been building(have built) a house for the last 5 years. "Have built" is incorrect.

    The building of a house, unlike the building of a friendship, has a clear end-point. One day the house is not completely built, the next day it is. The same is true of the writing of a novel:

    4. He has been writing(has written) his first novel since he was fifteen. "Has written" is incorrect.

  6. #6
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: ex)The unemployment rate has increased for the past 2 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    The above answers are noted and are fundamentally correct. This is in addition to them.

    ex)The unemployment rate has been increasing(has increased) for the past 2 years.
    If official unemployment figures are taken every 3 or 6 months, say, and they are higher each time (for four or eight values), you can say that "The unemployment rate has increased for the past 2 years."

    He has been writing(has written) his first novel since he was fifteen.
    "Has written" could almost be right if it's meant in the following context: "He has written his first novel since the age of fifteen." That is, he wrote a few novels before the age of 15, and this is his first novel since then. But if that's the case, my amended sentence would be more common, along with the clarification.
    R.

  7. #7
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    Re: ex)The unemployment rate has increased for the past 2 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Verb forms alone do not often give precise time limits and durations. Context and co-text also help.

    In your first sentence, note the words I have underlined in bhasahab's comment:

    1. The unemployment rate has been increasing(has increased) for the past 2 years. Has been increasing = It might not have stopped increasing yet. Has increased = It has probably stopped increasing.

    2. Jim and Harry have been building(have built) a friendship for the last 5 years. Have been building = The process of building is continuing. Have built = The process has finished.

    I do not disagree with bhai's comments, though I think that I would add the 'might' and 'probably' from the previous example.

    New example:
    3. Jim and Harry have been building(have built) a house for the last 5 years. "Have built" is incorrect.

    The building of a house, unlike the building of a friendship, has a clear end-point. One day the house is not completely built, the next day it is. The same is true of the writing of a novel:

    4. He has been writing(has written) his first novel since he was fifteen. "Has written" is incorrect.
    So the criteria to divide verbs to possible "have+p.p" and impossible "have+p.p" is continuous action as in "increase" or "build a friendship"?
    Something can increase continuously while "write" should be finished within a limited span of time.
    But it's even more confusing why "have built a friendship for some period" is possible. You finished building a friendship at some point, then a period shouldn't be followed.
    What is the criteria for possible "have+p.p" along with a period?
    Last edited by keannu; 27-Apr-2011 at 01:29.

  8. #8
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    Re: ex)The unemployment rate has increased for the past 2 years?

    Just one point for now (It's 01.45 here, and I am on my way to bed.)
    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    But it's even more confusing why "have built a friendship for some period" is possible. You finished building a friendship at some point, then a period shouldn't be followed.
    I should not have repeated bhai's words, "the process has finished", with which I do not completely agree. (I did say that I would add 'probably'.) In some ways, the building of a friendship, unlike the building of a house, can be considered as ongoing. In that they are now friends, the initial building is complete, but some process is still continuing.

    This sounds very much like splitting hairs, but it seems to explain why "Thay have built a house for the last five years" is unlikely, but "They have built a friendship for the last five years" is possible.

  9. #9
    keannu's Avatar
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    Re: ex)The unemployment rate has increased for the past 2 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Just one point for now (It's 01.45 here, and I am on my way to bed.)I should not have repeated bhai's words, "the process has finished", with which I do not completely agree. (I did say that I would add 'probably'.) In some ways, the building of a friendship, unlike the building of a house, can be considered as ongoing. In that they are now friends, the initial building is complete, but some process is still continuing.

    This sounds very much like splitting hairs, but it seems to explain why "Thay have built a house for the last five years" is unlikely, but "They have built a friendship for the last five years" is possible.
    My grammar book says the following.
    1. For action verbs, the two are different
    ex) I have painted this room(finished painting) <> I have been painting this room(still painting)

    2. For verbs meaning continuity such as (learn, study,lie, live, rain, sit, stand, sleep, wait, work)
    ex) I have worked for Intel for 15 years = I have been working for Intel for 15 years.

    Is it true? But the more I think about this issue, the more confusing!!!

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    Re: ex)The unemployment rate has increased for the past 2 years?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    My grammar book says the following.
    1. For action verbs, the two are different
    ex) I have painted this room(finished painting) <> I have been painting this room(still painting)

    2. For verbs meaning continuity such as (learn, study,lie, live, rain, sit, stand, sleep, wait, work)
    ex) I have worked for Intel for 15 years = I have been working for Intel for 15 years.

    Is it true? But the more I think about this issue, the more confusing!!!
    And then we have examples like:

    A: You are completely out of breath - What's the matter?
    B. I have been running.

    The running is over.

    Some of this has to do with whether the situation dentoted by the verb is telic, i.e. having a terminal point beyond which continuation is not possible, or atelic, unbounded. Note that it is the situation, not the verb - write (atelic), write a novel (telic)

    A lot of it has to do with the fact that languages are not rigidly laid out in separate compartments with absolute rules as to how elements in one compartment can be combined with elements in another.

    Writers of grammar books do the best they can to give useful guidelines on how speakers use the language, but there are not as many absolutes as one might think. There is no firm line between correct usage of progressive and non-progressive forms, rather a fuzzy blur.

    This appears unhelpful, but that is the situation. If you follow the 'rules'/advice/examples given in a reliable grammar, probably 99% of what you say will be acceptable, but you will still hear native speakers not following the rules, yet producing utterances that are perfectly acceptable.

    Looking back through what bhaisahab, Raymott and I have written (have been writing?) in this thread, I see things that I suspect all of us might change slightly if we gave a few hours' more thought to it - and then change again if we had a few days. Try to accept that you will rarely find a definitive answer to all your questions. The consolation is what I wrote and italicised in the last paragraph.

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