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  1. #1
    MIA6 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Comparison and tense

    I think the difference between "all morning" and "this morning" is: "all morning" means like, doing something the entire morning. It is is a period of time. Whereas, this morning is just what time something was, it is more instantaneous.
    Then, let's see some questions: We can say: I have been writing six letters all morning. But can we say: 1) I have written six letters all morning? I think we can say that, because I have been writing six ltters all morning = I have written six letters all morning. 2) Can we say: I have been writing letters this mornig? I don't think so. Because you can't use this tense along with "this morning", as i defined "this morning" above. However,I think it can be used along with "all morning". 3) Can we say: I have been writing six letters this morning. I don't think so, either. Same reason as last one's. 4) Can we say: I have written letters all morning? I think so. It's like the first example.
    Is any difference between "six letters" and "letters" in the examples above? I don't they have.
    Hope you can answer my questions. Thanks a lot.

  2. #2
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Comparison and tense

    Your sentences are all grammatical, but they each have a slightly different meaning to my ear.

    1) I have written six letters all morning. I hear someone saying "I have written [only] six letters for the entire morning. I should have written more."

    2) I have been writing letters this morning. I hear a response to the question, "What have you been doing this morning?"

    3) I have been writing six letters this morning. I hear someone saying that he had to write a lot of letters, and he still isn't finished.

    4) I have written letters all morning. I hear a simple reporting of events without a subtext.

    Also, I wrote letters all morning is essentially the same in meaning as 4).

  3. #3
    MIA6 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Comparison and tense

    Hi, mykwyner. THanks for your answers. BUt here i have some questions: Could you tell me the difference between "all morning" and "this morning"? I already put my understanding of the difference between these two phrases. So As i said : I have been writing letters this mornig in present perfect continuous tense can't be used along with "this morning", as i defined "this morning" above. However,I think it can be used along with "all morning". I have been writing six letters this morning. I don't think, either. Same reason as last one's. THen, I don't understand that why you think "I have written letters all morning."? means I WROTE Letters all morning, this action has finished? I don't agree. I think it should mean I was writing letters, and i am now still writing the letters.

  4. #4
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Comparison and tense

    All morning means that the morning (or the part of it when you were available to work) is completed, in the past.

    If I have spent all my money, it means I have no money left. Once you use the phrase all morning the morning and all the events of the morning are in the past.

    The actions you described could have started and ended in the past:

    I wrote [six] letters all morning. (done and finished)
    I have written [six] letters all morning. (This implies that you have more letters to write.)

    or the events could have started in the past and continued to the present:

    I have been writing [six] letters all morning.

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    Default Re: Comparison and tense

    Quote Originally Posted by MIA6 View Post
    Hi, mykwyner. THanks for your answers. BUt here i have some questions: Could you tell me the difference between "all morning" and "this morning"? I already put my understanding of the difference between these two phrases. So As i said : I have been writing letters this mornig in present perfect continuous tense can't be used along with "this morning", as i defined "this morning" above. However,I think it can be used along with "all morning". I have been writing six letters this morning. I don't think, either. Same reason as last one's. THen, I don't understand that why you think "I have written letters all morning."? means I WROTE Letters all morning, this action has finished? I don't agree. I think it should mean I was writing letters, and i am now still writing the letters.
    "I have been writing letters this morning" is perfectly correct - it means I am telling you now that at some time this morning 'I was writing letters', but not during all of the morning. "I have been writing letters all morning" means that for the whole of the morning 'I was writing letters' - there was never a moment during the morning that 'I wasn't writing letters'.

    Mykwyner didn't say that "I have written letters all morning" meant that the action was finished. He said the opposite in fact, and went too far IMHO - it implies NOTHING about whether you have more letters to write, or are still 'writing letters'. It simply means I am telling you NOW that 'I was writing letters for the whole of the morning'.

    For example:

    John: "Could you write a letter to the bank for me, please?"
    Jane: "I've written letters all morning for you. I'm NOT writing any more - write your OWN letter to the bank."

  6. #6
    MIA6 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Comparison and tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    "I have been writing letters this morning" is perfectly correct - it means I am telling you now that at some time this morning 'I was writing letters', but not during all of the morning. "I have been writing letters all morning" means that for the whole of the morning 'I was writing letters' - there was never a moment during the morning that 'I wasn't writing letters'.
    Hi, Coffa. I think present perfect progressive tense should mean an action happened in the past, and it still continues to now. So i don't think I have been writing letters this morning means I WAS wrting letters.

  7. #7
    MIA6 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Comparison and tense

    Quote Originally Posted by mykwyner View Post
    All morning means that the morning (or the part of it when you were available to work) is completed, in the past.
    If I have spent all my money, it means I have no money left. Once you use the phrase all morning the morning and all the events of the morning are in the past.
    The actions you described could have started and ended in the past:
    I wrote [six] letters all morning. (done and finished)
    I have written [six] letters all morning. (This implies that you have more letters to write.)
    or the events could have started in the past and continued to the present:
    I have been writing [six] letters all morning.
    Hi, mykwyner. I don't really agree with you opinion. FIrst, if as you said all morning meant the morning is completed, in the past, then I have been writing letters couldn't be used along with "all morning". Because of the Usage of the present perfect continuous tense. Then in the other hand, if I have been writing letters all morning means the events could have started in the past and continued to the present,then, i think i have written letters all morning also means the events could have started in the past and continued to the present. Why? Let me give you two examples: I have lived here for 2 years. I have been living here for 2 years. They are the same thing. Can you get my point now?

  8. #8
    mykwyner is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Comparison and tense

    If you will re-read my original post, you'll see that I did not say that there was an absolute timetable established by the combined use of the continuous and perfect tenses. The English language is not that rigid. I said that to my ear there are different shades of meaning conveyed by the different uses of the tenses.

    I have lived here two years could mean that you are moving out today, you no longer live here as of this moment.

    I have been living here two years implies that the arrangement is still in force and will continue into the future.

    I have been writing letters all morning implies that the morning is over, but the letter writing is not necessarily finished.

    By the way, if you are learning the English language, I would recommend that you not spend too much time thinking about these different ways of expressing the past. I doubt that one in a thousand native English speaker would be able to tell you what the perfect tense is, or when it should be used. Most native English speakers would not hear any difference in meaning among any of the sentences we've discussed.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Comparison and tense

    Quote Originally Posted by MIA6 View Post
    I think the difference between "all morning" and "this morning" is: "all morning" means like, doing something the entire morning. It is is a period of time. Whereas, this morning is just what time something was, it is more instantaneous.
    It has more to do with tense than adverbs of time. That is, the adverb works inside the tense; it's not the other way around.

    [1] I have been writing letters all morning.
    => It is still morning. The tense tells us that, not the adverb.

    [2] I have written letters all morning.
    => This one is somewhat awkward since the purpose of the present perfect is to take focus off Time and put in on the event. Try, expanding it, like this,

    [3] I have written letters all morning and now I am tired.
    => In this way, the added "and now I am tired" focuses back on the event.

    [4] I have been writing letters this morning.
    => It's still morning. The tense tells us so. "this" sounds somewhat odd, given lack of context, but not awkward. It could be the answer to this question, "Max, tell me, what have you been doing this morning?"

    [5] I have been writing six letters this morning.
    => It's fine - again, given context. "six" makes it sound as if you are working on all six letters at the same time. Note that, be -ing is a continuous form.

    I like Myk's take.

  10. #10
    MIA6 is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Comparison and tense

    1/ 1) I have been writing letters all morning means It is morning, I wrote letters, and I am still writing letters.
    2) I have written letters all morning means I wrote letters all morning?
    But can the second sentence have the same meaning as the first one has?
    This question implies a topic: can a sentence have different meanings in different context? (I don't really agree though)
    2. What's the difference between "I have been writing letters this morning" and "I have been writing letters all morning"?

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