Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 11 to 16 of 16
  1. #11
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,169
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Tense Confusion: Present/Past Perfect vs. Present/Past Perfect Progressive

    Quote Originally Posted by Kreacher View Post
    Mrs Gruntpugh died recently at the age of 90. She will be remembered for her series of court actions against her cousin, Lady Postule over the Bloch-Bauer paintings.. She fought for eight years before reaching an settlement with ... .
    You said: The past perfect progressive is unlikely here because the fight ended before she died.
    But why would using the past perfect progressive mean that the fight went on even after her death?
    I did not say that it would. I meant to suggest that the non-progressive form was more appropriate for the completion of the fight by a time before he death.

    She had been fighting for 8 years before reaching a settlement with....

    I don't understand why this would mean the fight went on after her death. Like you said, it would emphasise the duration? I think that's the knot in my brain here...
    I said that the progressive form was unlikely. After thinking more about it, I should perhaps have said 'less likely, in my opinion'.
    I remember from school that the past perfect progressive (she had been fighting) is used to express that something had started earlier in the past and continued happening until a new event set in.

    "He had been travelling for 3 months when he ran out of money"
    That is one common use of the form, but it is not the only use of it. Depending on the verb and the context, the non-progressive form can also often be used for this idea. As I said in post #2, there is no simple answer to this. In post #7, I attempted, not very successfully, to suggest when one form might be more likely than another. I should have remembered my own words, "Some course books and elementary grammars can sometimes give the impression that only one form is possible in any give situation. This is not true."

    The fact is that there are no hard and fast rules here. There are situations in which one form is more likely than any other for most native speakers. There are situations when one form is unlikely for most native speakers. There are also situations when two or more forms are equally likely. There are few absolutes here.

    It seems to me that you have a pretty good idea of how we use the various tenses and aspects.If you stick to what you know, and accept that native speakers may at times say things that seem 'wrong' to you, you will not make any serious mistakes. Indeed, in my opinion, you will usually produce forms that will seem natural to native speakers.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  2. #12
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,169
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Tense Confusion: Present/Past Perfect vs. Present/Past Perfect Progressive

    Quote Originally Posted by Kreacher View Post
    We were told that Past Progressive is usually used for describing actions that were going on (no matter when they started) when suddenly a new, shorter event set in.

    "We were sleeping soundlessly when the earthquake happened"
    Not always:

    While I was sleeping, the children were playing in the garden.

    Here we have two situations of some duration going on at the same time.
    I'm not sure if you can use past progressive + for + time... "I was looking for him for 3 hours"
    You can. I wasted some precious time yesterday. I was looking for John for three hours when I could have been working. I didn't realise he was sailing with his brother.
    Last edited by 5jj; 09-Feb-2013 at 20:28. Reason: typo
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  3. #13
    Kreacher is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Germany
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    6
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Tense Confusion: Present/Past Perfect vs. Present/Past Perfect Progressive

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    It seems to me that you have a pretty good idea of how we use the various tenses and aspects.If you stick to what you know, and accept that native speakers may at times say things that seem 'wrong' to you, you will not make any serious mistakes. Indeed, in my opinion, you will usually produce forms that will seem natural to native speakers.
    Thank you a lot! I hope I'll master all the subtle differences some day.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    You can. I wasted some precious time yesterday. I was looking for John for three hours when I could have been working. I didn't realise he was sailing with his brother.
    So, does that mean that "englishhobby" 's answer wasn't wrong then? "I was looking for my dog for 3 hours but I couldn't find it"

    Maybe I should stop thinking about all that. The more I think about it the more confused I seem to get.

  4. #14
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,169
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Tense Confusion: Present/Past Perfect vs. Present/Past Perfect Progressive

    Quote Originally Posted by Kreacher View Post
    So, does that mean that "englishhobby" 's answer wasn't wrong then? "I was looking for my dog for 3 hours but I couldn't find it"
    My personal view is that that is possible, but I don't wan't to discuss that here. A fresh thread is the place for that.
    Maybe I should stop thinking about all that. The more I think about it the more confused I seem to get.
    It is possible to think about this too much. I don't believe in accepting the rather superficial 'rules' that sometimes appear in some course books and grammar books for learners. On the other hand, an attempt to explain precisely each and every tense usage that one encounters is doomed to failure, in my opinion. Even with full context, it is not possible for us to know exactly what was in a speaker's mind when s/he uttered certain words.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  5. #15
    englishhobby's Avatar
    englishhobby is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    782
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Tense Confusion: Present/Past Perfect vs. Present/Past Perfect Progressive

    Quote Originally Posted by Kreacher View Post
    We were told that Past Progressive is usually used for describing actions that were going on (no matter when they started) when suddenly a new, shorter event set in.

    "We were sleeping soundlessly when the earthquake happened"

    I'm not sure if you can use past progressive + for + time... "I was looking for him for 3 hours"
    Yes, I know that from grammar books, too.
    And what if there was NO new shorter event which interrupted my looking for the dog. What if I just want to emphasize the duration of the verb "look for" in the past. In my language (Russian) there are (at least) two ways of showing duration in the situation with a lost dog - 1) I can use one verb form to emphasise the duration, the fact that I took time looking for the poor dog, not just stating a fact that it took me three hours (it could be equivalent to the Past Continuous form "was looking for", but English Grammar says I can't use it as there is no interruption (((, and 2) I can use a "shorter" verb form just to state the fact that it took me three hours (without putting stress on whether it was a long time for me or not). That's why I felt like Past Simple alone wouldn't be enough to express the following idea:

    I looked (long) for my dog for three hours but I couldn't find him. So I had to return home.
    OR
    I looked for my dog for three hours (which is a long time) but I couldn't find him. So I had to return home.

    Perhaps the best way to emphasize the duration of "look for" in this case would be: I looked and looked for the dog...?

    Sorry I seem to be going off the subject (though discussing duration is also a part of this thread, I'd better start a new thread).
    Last edited by englishhobby; 10-Feb-2013 at 07:07.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up.)

  6. #16
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,169
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Tense Confusion: Present/Past Perfect vs. Present/Past Perfect Progressive

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    Sorry I seem to be going off the subject (though discussing duration is also a part of this thread, I'd better start a new thread).
    As I suggested in my last post.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12

Similar Threads

  1. [Grammar] Present perfect, simple past, present perfect progressive
    By dilodi83 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 10-May-2010, 08:44
  2. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-Aug-2008, 07:04
  3. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 14-Mar-2007, 15:13
  4. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 18-Apr-2006, 17:18
  5. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-Apr-2005, 03:34

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Hotchalk