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Thread: difference

  1. #1
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    Default difference

    Could anyone tell me about the differece between following sentences.

    #1. He has been reading that book for three hours.
    #2. He has read that book for three hours.

    I think that the former one is that "He" is still keeping on reading, and
    the latter one is that "He" has just finished reading, which took three
    hours. Is my understanding correct? or.....

    Tks

  2. #2
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: difference

    The difference isn't always so clearcut. You could use the simple form when the actyion is unfinished, but would be laying less emphasis on the duration. You could also use the progressive form when the person hasd just put the book down, and this way you'd lay greater emphasis oin the duration- because he has annoyed you by reading for so long, etc.

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    Default Re: difference

    tdol
    Thank you for your reply. Do you mean that even if the action is unfinished,
    we can use the simple form? Vice versa do you mean that even if the person finished the action , we could use the progressive form? The difference is whether to place an emphasis on the duration, isn't it? I'm still confused..

  4. #4
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    Default Re: difference

    It is possible to do that. The traditional definitions of finished/unfinished don't always apply. Generally, there would be a tendency to use the progressive to denote an unfinished action, but that doesn't mean that it is always wrong to use the simple for an unfinished action. Emphasis is an important part of it- when we say 'I've been waiting for an hour' to someone who's late, the waiting has finished, but we use the progressive to emphasise the length of the wait and to criticise the person for being so late.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: difference

    tdol
    Thank you for your explanation. Probably many Japanese people who are
    learning English are binded by the traditional finished/unfinished idea....

  6. #6
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    Default Re: difference

    The traditional idea shouldn't be thrown out of the window, but you can view 'I've been waiting' as unfinshed in a way because the effects of the long wait are still present (in my anger).

  7. #7
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    Default Re: difference

    tdol
    Thank you for your reply.

  8. #8
    Tdol is online now Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: difference

    Yoshitakehori, you're welcome.

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