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  1. #1
    hela is offline Senior Member
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    Default since + past tenses

    Dear teachers,

    I would be extremely grateful if you could clear out my doubts about which tenses to use with the conjunction of time -or reason- "since".

    1) I'd like to know which tense we can use (in academic English and not in everyday speech) with the time conjunction "since". Le simple past is unanimously chosen but what about the present perfect?

    Examples:

    a) It is / has been a long time since I SAW her. 100% correct
    b) It is / has been a long time since I HAVE SEEN her. (also academic ?)

    (by the way are both forms "It is a long time" and "It has been a long time" formally accepted?)

    c) It's been a week since I SAW my friends / I GRADUATED.
    d) It's been a week since I HAVE SEEN my friends / I HAVE GRADUATED.

    e) I've been cheating on you since I KNEW you. (?)
    f) I've been cheating on you since I HAVE KNOWN you.

    g) How long is it since you KNEW her ? (??)
    h) How long is it since you HAVE KNOWN her?
    i) How long HAVE you KNOWN her ?

    2) Is it true that we cannot use the present tense in the main clause when "since" expresses time but can only use it when "since" introduces a reason? However, let's look at the following sentences, can't they be made of time clauses?

    a) She LOOKS quite different since her illness. (time clause ?)
    b) He IS SHOOTING the most expensive film since Star Wars. (correct ?)
    c) My mother LOOKS younger since she dyed her hair. (time or reason clause ?)
    d) He LOOKS much younger since he shaved off his beard. (time or reason)
    e) She no longer VISITS since she got married. (time or reason?)

    At some point I thought that the present tense could be used with the time expression "since" only with state verbs but "visits" above is a verb of process, so what is the correct answer?

    Thank you very much for your help.
    Hela
    Last edited by hela; 30-Nov-2006 at 10:57.

  2. #2
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: since + past tenses

    Hello Hela

    Here are my answers (BrE):

    1) I'd like to know which tense we can use (in academic English and not in everyday speech) with the time conjunction "since". Le simple past is unanimously chosen but what about the present perfect?
    a) It is / has been a long time since I SAW her. 100% correct
    b) It is / has been a long time since I HAVE SEEN her. (also academic ?)
    c) It's been a week since I SAW my friends / I GRADUATED.

    All these forms seem fine to me; the present perfect in each case keeps one eye on the past; the simple present simply presents a fact.

    d) It's been a week since I HAVE SEEN my friends / I HAVE GRADUATED.
    friends, yes, as you can see them at different times during a given period; but graduating, perhaps not, as you only graduate once.

    e) I've been cheating on you since I KNEW you. (?)
    f) I've been cheating on you since I HAVE KNOWN you.
    I would add "ever" before "since".

    g) How long is it since you KNEW her ? (??)
    This is a little strange; if he has stopped knowing her, he won't know how long it is since he knew her!

    h) How long is it since you HAVE KNOWN her?
    I would change "since" to "that".

    i) How long HAVE you KNOWN her ?
    Fine!

    2) Is it true that we cannot use the present tense in the main clause when "since" expresses time but can only use it when "since" introduces a reason? However, let's look at the following sentences, can't they be made of time clauses?
    a) She LOOKS quite different since her illness. (time clause ?)
    Sounds ok to me, though I would probably use the present perfect instead of the simple present. Time.

    b) He IS SHOOTING the most expensive film since Star Wars. (correct ?)
    Sounds ok to me. Time.

    c) My mother LOOKS younger since she dyed her hair. (time or reason clause ?)
    as 2a. Time.

    d) He LOOKS much younger since he shaved off his beard. (time or reason)
    as 2a. Time.

    e) She no longer VISITS since she got married. (time or reason?)
    Ok. Time. Or "She doesn't visit us, since she got married."

    <...At some point I thought that the present tense could be used with the time expression "since" only with state verbs but "visits" above is a verb of process, so what is the correct answer?...>

    Sometimes sentences that sounded fine on a Tuesday seem very strange on a Wednesday. I'll look at them again tomorrow and see if I still agree with myself, before answering!

    All the best,

    MrP

  3. #3
    hela is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: since + past tenses

    Dear Mrp,

    I loved this one
    Sometimes sentences that sounded fine on a Tuesday seem very strange on a Wednesday. I'll look at them again tomorrow and see if I still agree with myself, before answering!
    So I'll let you think about all this before asking you my other questions!

    Kind regards,
    Hela

  4. #4
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: since + past tenses

    Sorry, Hela, I had to give it an extra day! But I think I still agree with myself; except that I'm now not sure about this one:

    e) I've been cheating on you since I KNEW you. (?)

    Though if you insert "first" before "knew", it seems fine.

    <...At some point I thought that the present tense could be used with the time expression "since" only with state verbs but "visits" above is a verb of process, so what is the correct answer?...>

    For instance:

    1. Since her mother died, she has visited the cemetery every day.
    2. Since her mother died, she visits the cemetery every day.

    Although #2 seems more comfortable, I'm not sure I would want to call #2 incorrect. It implies an expectation that she will continue to visit the cemetery every day; in #1, this sense of the future is much weaker, and the sense of the past much stronger.

    Have a good Friday,

    MrP

  5. #5
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: since + past tenses

    a) It is / has been a long time since I SAW her. 100% correct
    b) It is / has been a long time since I HAVE SEEN her. (also academic ?)

    Since usually introduces the departure point of time. Such a point of time can only be past simple and not present perfect:
    I has been been a long time since I saw her.

    I don't deny that some people use present perfect which to my taste is wrong.

    If you say:
    It is instead of it has been...
    As a speaker you don't show interest in time no matter whether it is specific or not. It is only a statement.

  6. #6
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: since + past tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim View Post
    I don't deny that some people use present perfect which to my taste is wrong.
    Much depends on the context. In some cases, the speaker wishes to express "since-ness" not from a particular point, but from the beginning of a particular period; and so the present perfect is appropriate.

    (This isn't a new linguistic phenomenon, as these C18/C19 examples attest:

    1. Scott: "...ever since I have taken up this wild trade, I have made a vow to prefer beauty to wealth..."

    2. Fielding: "...the beer was some of the best I have met with since I have been in town..."

    3. Hawthorne: "...This subject has taken hold of my mind with the strangest tenacity of clutch since I have lodged in yonder old gable..."

    4. Hawthorne: "...Latterly, since I have begun to know him better, I feel it to be not quite right to look closely into his moods..."

    5. Stevenson: "...It seems a long while since I have heard from you..."

    6. Trollope: "... I used to know well what it was before I knew you; but since I have had the hope of having you in my house, I have banished it utterly..."

    7. Morris: "...It is five days since I have spoken to a son of Adam..."

    8. Austen: "...It is so long since I have seen her, except now and then for a moment accidentally in town!..."

    9. Dickens: "...I have felt an interest in Mr. Carker ever since I have been here..."

    All the best,

    MrP

  7. #7
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: since + past tenses

    MrPedantic wrote: Much depends on the context. In some cases, the speaker wishes to express "since-ness" not from a particular point, but from the beginning of a particular period; and so the present perfect is appropriate


    While I do appreciate your way of discussion I would like to answer as follows:
    1. True much depends upon the context, the speaker's view and the meaning of "since". You are however, confusing two functions of since: since as a preposition and as a conjunction of time. If the emphasis is on the point of departure ( since being a preposition) something like: since 1998, the point of time is certaily past and not present perfect.

    2. In sentences about changes present continuous/simple can be used instead of present perfect in the main clause when since is used as preposition:
    You are sleeping much better since your swimming course
    She doesn't phone since she got married.

    3. Since can be used as a conjuction of time introducing its own clause, the tense can then be past or perfect:
    I have known her since we were neighbours
    I have known her since we have worked together.

    4. If you refer to a finished point of time present perfect is used:
    It is now a year since we have signed the agreement.
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 02-Dec-2006 at 12:44.

  8. #8
    hela is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: since + past tenses

    Dear Dr. J.I.,

    According to what you have just said (in # 3 & 4), I don't understand your earlier point:
    Since usually introduces the departure point of time. Such a point of time can only be past simple and not present perfect:
    It has been been a long time since I saw her.

    I don't deny that some people use present perfect which to my taste is wrong.
    Would you accept now the sentence:"It has been a long time since I HAVE SEEN her"?

    One more thing, in the sentence "she doesn't phone since she got married", isn't "since" a conjunction?

    All the best,
    Hela

  9. #9
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: since + past tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by hela View Post
    Dear Dr. J.I.,

    According to what you have just said (in # 3 & 4), I don't understand your earlier point:


    Would you accept now the sentence:"It has been a long time since I HAVE SEEN her"?

    One more thing, in the sentence "she doesn't phone since she got married", isn't "since" a conjunction?

    All the best,
    Hela
    Yes, I do because in both sentences "since" is a conjunction with its own clause. It is always a matter of emphasis and perspective and as you know people do have different perspectives. BTW "Since" is not that straightforward as it appears. In a way it is like mixed conditionals. The standard tense in the main clause is present perfect and after it a point of time (in the past) is given. Still, there are case where you can use present perfect before and after since. Past simple can of course be used after since. In the main clause even present continuous and present simple can be used.
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 03-Dec-2006 at 07:57.

  10. #10
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: since + past tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by hela View Post

    Would you accept now the sentence:"It has been a long time since I HAVE SEEN her"?
    There is nothing wrong with that sentence. It is perfectly fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by hela View Post
    One more thing, in the sentence "she doesn't phone since she got married", isn't "since" a conjunction?
    I think so.

    ~R

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