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  1. #11
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Revisiting Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by jwschang
    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    A: Have you eaten lunch in the afternoon?
    B: Yes, I have eaten lunch in the afternoon.

    A: Have you eaten lunch at three?
    B: Yes, I have eaten lunch at three.

    A: Have you visited Dalian in July?
    B: Yes, I have visited Dalian in July.

    Yes. We have been using it so. Trouble is, there ARE linguists and teachers who are teaching that we should say in answer:
    B. Yes, I ate lunch in the afternoon.
    B. Yes, I ate lunch at three.
    B. Yes, I visited Dalian in July.

    1. This is the matter that has got some people upset (never mind mentioning whoever), because it is or can be confusing.
    2. The "rule" is not my view. I did some checking and found that that's what is being taught by SOME. I don't know if it's a majority or minority who subscribe to the "rule", or it's at the climatic state of a toss-up!!!!!
    3. It seems the language has gone through "refinements" (for whatever reasons???). Without sounding disparaging, it appears that such refinements are the labour of love of purists.
    4. I guess you and I grew up speaking quite a bit of unsound grammar in pure blissful ignorance!!!!
    5. I'm more concerned with the practical side of things: With such differing views, what should we teach learners? And it could lead to a lot of angst in the poor serious-type of kid (not to mention even some adults).
    I am afraid I might have already waded into water too deep for me. :wink:

    It is true that sometimes the simple past and the past perfect can mean the same thing.

    • A: Have you eaten lunch today?
      B: Yes, I ate.


    Or:

    • A: Have you eaten lunch today?
      B: Yes, I have eaten lunch.


    I think few would argue that there is a real difference between the two.

    As for those example sentences I posted, I thought it might be interesting to demonstrate that those "impossible" sentences are quite possible given the right circumstances. As someone once said, it is context that makes a sentence meaningful.


    Let's briefly look at the questions and the revised answers.

    A: Have you eaten lunch in the afternoon? (Any afternoon)
    B: B. Yes, I ate lunch in the afternoon. (A particular afternoon--that day)

    A: Have you eaten lunch at three? (Any day)
    B. Yes, I ate lunch at three. (A particular day--that day)

    A: Have you visited Dalian in July? (Any July)
    B. Yes, I visited Dalian in July. (The most recent July)

    Every answer is, in a sense, a response to a different question than was asked. It's kind of like when you ask a person, "How long have you been waiting here?" and he responds with "Since three o'clock." You are then left with trying to figure out what the answer to your question is. If you say to somebody, "Have you visited Paris in the springtime?" the expected response would be something like, "Yes. I visited Paris last spring as a matter of fact." If the person instead says, "I visited Paris in the spring" that is likely to put you a little off-balance, simply because it is so unexpected.

    (I am now going to have to ponder for a while on whether that made any sense.)


  2. #12
    jwschang Guest

    Default Re: Revisiting Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    ]

    I am afraid I might have already waded into water too deep for me. :wink:

    It is true that sometimes the simple past and the past perfect can mean the same thing. I think few would argue that there is a real difference between the two. As for those example sentences I posted, I thought it might be interesting to demonstrate that those "impossible" sentences are quite possible given the right circumstances. As someone once said, it is context that makes a sentence meaningful.
    The comforting thing (for our own sanity, not for proving anything) arising out of all this is that we (you, me, cas, tdol, etc) ARE agreed that there is interchangeability and there are differences in the usage of the two tenses.

    Deep and murky waters are not for us weekend bathers!!! :wink:

  3. #13
    jwschang Guest

    Default Re: Revisiting Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    As for those example sentences I posted, I thought it might be interesting to demonstrate that those "impossible" sentences are quite possible given the right circumstances. As someone once said, it is context that makes a sentence meaningful.

    Let's briefly look at the questions and the revised answers.

    A: Have you eaten lunch in the afternoon? (Any afternoon)
    B: B. Yes, I ate lunch in the afternoon. (A particular afternoon--that day)

    A: Have you eaten lunch at three? (Any day)
    B. Yes, I ate lunch at three. (A particular day--that day)

    A: Have you visited Dalian in July? (Any July)
    B. Yes, I visited Dalian in July. (The most recent July)

    (I am now going to have to ponder for a while on whether that made any sense.)
    The sentences above are all correct grammar, but all the questions by A do not contain a "specific time in the past" expression. It is this "rule" that is being questioned. :(

  4. #14
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Revisiting Present Perfect

    The sentences above are all correct grammar, but all the questions by A do not contain a "specific time in the past" expression. It is this "rule" that is being questioned.
    We often use such expressions with perfect confidence that they will be understood. Examples:

    • Have you ever been to Europe?
      Have you ever flown on a plane?
      Have you ever met so and so?


    The possibilities are endless. I think it is appropriate that you put rule in quote marks. I am not at all sure such a rule exists. In any case, I have never bothered to learn it.

    I for one am not involved in a vast conspiracy to keep ESL learners from learning English the right way. In fact, I keep telling them that my way is the right way.

    :wink:

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Revisiting Present Perfect

    A: Have you eaten lunch at three?
    B: Yes, I have eaten lunch at three.
    Ooh. Cool, sneaky one, dude. Ambiguity!

    Within the context of the given conversation, 'at three' offers two meanings:

    (1) at specifically 3 o'clock
    (2) at some unknown 3 o'clock in the past

    If (1), then 'at three' is incompatible with 'have eaten' and the sentence is ungrammatical:

    :( Have you eaten at (specifically) 3 o'clock?

    If (2), then 'at three' is compatible with 'have eaten' and the sentence is grammatical:

    :D Have you eaten at 3 o'clock (before)?

    In short, 'at three' can refer to a specific time on an unspecified day (2), or a specific time on a specific day (1).

    Cas :D

  6. #16
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Revisiting Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    A: Have you eaten lunch at three?
    B: Yes, I have eaten lunch at three.
    Ooh. Cool, sneaky one, dude. Ambiguity!

    Within the context of the given conversation, 'at three' offers two meanings:

    (1) at specifically 3 o'clock
    (2) at some unknown 3 o'clock in the past

    If (1), then 'at three' is incompatible with 'have eaten' and the sentence is ungrammatical:

    :( Have you eaten at (specifically) 3 o'clock?

    If (2), then 'at three' is compatible with 'have eaten' and the sentence is grammatical:

    :D Have you eaten at 3 o'clock (before)?

    In short, 'at three' can refer to a specific time on an unspecified day (2), or a specific time on a specific day (1).

    Cas :D
    Actually, I didn't mean for it to be ambiguous. "Have you eaten lunch at three?" is an improbable question if the speaker means at three o'clock on any day at all. However, if the speaker means at three o'clock today then we are talking about something else entirely, because such an utterance is never spoken. In such a case we would invariably say Did you eat lunch at three?

    :)

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Revisiting Present Perfect

    Cas' English:
    Pat: Did you eat yet?
    Sam: Yup. I ate.
    todl's English:
    In BE, most would use the perfect here- the past simple with 'yet' is not very common. I, personally, wouldn't use this, but some would.
    Jws' BE English:
    That's how I tend to use the PP, without any "past time expression", and not the Simple Past for: Have you eaten? Yup, I have eaten.
    That a very good point :D

    In North American English (Ahem, Canada & the US), the Simple Past and the Present Perfect are slowly merging, and the reason why some speakers, actually more than some, tend to use "Did..yet?". It's a sign of language in change.

    In terms of its grammaticality, well, descriptivists might consider it grammatical because it follows a consistent pattern; whereas prescriptivists will definitely see it as ungrammatical because it deviates from the traditional pattern.

    In terms of acceptability, some people might think it's okay because it doesn't drastically change the meaning expressed by the Simple Past, whereas other people may think it's not okay because it makes one sound as if they don't know the rules of the language.

    However that may be, "Did...yet?" does in fact adhere to a rule, albeit a rule in flux. Prescriptivists of which I have met none on this board aren't much for language in change. They'd prefer that language stay put and not move around so much. (On a humorous note, prescript in prescriptivist means, before writing. Are prescriptivists troglodytes? )

    I teach learners the traditional form "Have..yet?" first, then add in "Did..yet?", along with the whos, the whys, and the whens.

    Knowledge is power.

    Cas :D

  8. #18
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    Default Re: Revisiting Present Perfect

    Ronbee:
    "Have you eaten lunch at three?" is an improbable question if the speaker means at three o'clock on any day at all.
    I see what you mean, but, to me, there's a difference in meaning between 'any day' and 'an unspecified day'; ICHO 'any day' means, one specific day within many choices of days, whereas 'an unspecified day' means, whenever. That is, it doesn't express a choice of day at all. It's in that way, that I believe 'at 3 o'c'ock' can express both specific time (one 3 o'clock) or unspecified time (3 o'clock whenever ~ before).

    (little) cas :D

  9. #19
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    Default Re: Revisiting Present Perfect

    5. My conclusion (IMHO) is that there are contexts where there is no, or hardly any, difference between the two tenses, and others where the difference is intentional (conscious or otherwise).
    Oh, I agree. It, also, describes the Simple Past (SP) and the Present Perfect (PP) as merging in certain contexts in Singapore English as well. Nice.

    Cas :D

  10. #20
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    The other thing that is spreading in BE is the omission of the auxialiry verb 'have'. This is spreading outside dialect areas into wider circles, although it would still be regarded as an error in exams.

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