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  1. #11
    mochimochi is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Simple Past vs Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by powerlerner View Post
    ii) "When you were living in London, did you ever try jellied eels?" - I voted for wrong. Because I thought u have to use the past perfect. But maybe the guy that did the quiz put it in wrong? I don't know. Anyhow, it says the sentence (as I quoted it above) is correct.

    Thanks!

    PL
    When two things happened at the same time,
    we use Past.

    When I was eating lunch , I felt an earthquake.
    When we were watching television. my son asked me some questions.

    "When you were living in London, did you ever try jellied eels?" seems all right.

  2. #12
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Simple Past vs Present Perfect

    This is great. I'd love to see more discussion like this from the ESLs. If I may I like to add just a few comments.

    First, Powerlearner, if you competently use the present perfect for underlining the result then I'd say that you've got the toughest parts licked. Past finished actions that have a current relevance and therefore use the present perfect [subject to the speaker's choice] is one of the hardest Pps to grasp.

    As everyone noted, the present perfect has within a connotation of 'up to now'. Since 'were living in London' definitely breaks the connection to now, the PP would not be used.

    As regards, "This is the first time I tried it", there is nothing grammatically wrong with the sentence, at least for NaE. For BrE, the likelihood.of the present perfect being used is much much greater, but for NaE, there is much more speaker choice involved.

    So for examples such as this;

    1)He has eaten lunch (= completed as of now, eaten as of now);
    2)He ate lunch (= occurred then, ate then)

    a NA speaker might choose either. This is where speaker choice, as I mentioned above, comes in to play.

    Number 1 could be chosen if the speaker deems the “finished eating” to be relevant/important enough to the present situation, but number 2 could also be used, especially in situations of even social relationship, ie. one where the people are close.

    For NaE, we sometimes even use the past simple to ask about experience, for example,

    Did you ever ski at Aspen? Did you ever try flyfishing?

    Justin's examples,

    (iv)I have lost my pen (= still not found) vs. I lost my pen (= lost, some time in the past, perhaps now found?).

    are more representative of BrE. For NaE, the issue is more one of current relevance/importance. At the start of a test, a speaker might well choose “I've lost ...” but again, it's UP TO THE SPEAKER. A speaker might well choose to downplay the significance, maybe because they're afraid to tell the teacher.

    Albertino:
    B) "When you were living in London, did you ever try jellied eels"
    There might be two possibilities:
    (I)If it is BE, then
    (i) by using the past tense, it means that the action(tried the jellied eels) is done on a single occasion and completed in the past.
    (ii) by using the past perfect, it means that the action is a repetitive, unfinished one (tried the jellied eels on several occasions) from a point of time up to another in the past (while living in London).
    Hence, in either case it is correct, depending on what the meaning you want to convey.
    (II) If it is AE, then the explanation given above in (A) is also applied to here.
    I don't believe this distinction can be drawn for BrE, Albertino. The use of the past perfect in this collocation would not, to my mind, be the norm in either BrE or NaE. The past perfect, like the present perfect, is used under certain circumstances, not as a default, if you will.

    I'm going to say, without great conviction and subject to much rethought, that the past perfect tends to be used from some past point in time back to a further past, not over a period of time that a phrase like, “When you were living in London” entails. [I'm not discounting it outright; as I said more thought is needed]

    So,

    Before you moved to London, had you ever tried jellied eel?

    would be fine, as would “did you ever try ...?”, but the latter, to my mind, would be confined more to casual speech.

    Let's not let this drop, folks. I think we're getting close.

  3. #13
    justinwschang is offline Member
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    Default Re: Simple Past vs Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    This is great. I'd love to see more discussion like this from the ESLs. If I may I like to add just a few comments.

    First, Powerlearner, if you competently use the present perfect for underlining the result then I'd say that you've got the toughest parts licked. Past finished actions that have a current relevance and therefore use the present perfect [subject to the speaker's choice] is one of the hardest Pps to grasp.

    As everyone noted, the present perfect has within a connotation of 'up to now'. Since 'were living in London' definitely breaks the connection to now, the PP would not be used.

    As regards, "This is the first time I tried it", there is nothing grammatically wrong with the sentence, at least for NaE. For BrE, the likelihood.of the present perfect being used is much much greater, but for NaE, there is much more speaker choice involved.

    So for examples such as this;

    1)He has eaten lunch (= completed as of now, eaten as of now);
    2)He ate lunch (= occurred then, ate then)

    a NA speaker might choose either. This is where speaker choice, as I mentioned above, comes in to play.

    Number 1 could be chosen if the speaker deems the “finished eating” to be relevant/important enough to the present situation, but number 2 could also be used, especially in situations of even social relationship, ie. one where the people are close.

    For NaE, we sometimes even use the past simple to ask about experience, for example,

    Did you ever ski at Aspen? Did you ever try flyfishing?

    Justin's examples,

    (iv)I have lost my pen (= still not found) vs. I lost my pen (= lost, some time in the past, perhaps now found?).

    are more representative of BrE. For NaE, the issue is more one of current relevance/importance. At the start of a test, a speaker might well choose “I've lost ...” but again, it's UP TO THE SPEAKER. A speaker might well choose to downplay the significance, maybe because they're afraid to tell the teacher.



    I don't believe this distinction can be drawn for BrE, Albertino. [Agree, I think both simple past and present perfect are okay for that sentence, but I don't see the distinction about the number of occasions tried].The use of the past perfect in this collocation would not, to my mind, be the norm in either BrE or NaE. The past perfect, like the present perfect, is used under certain circumstances, not as a default, if you will.

    I'm going to say, without great conviction and subject to much rethought, that the past perfect tends to be used from some past point in time back to a further past, not over a period of time that a phrase like, “When you were living in London” entails. [I'm not discounting it outright; as I said more thought is needed] [The past perfect is also used for action completed in the past, before or when another action happened then: When I asked, we had already waited a month; also for action completed over a period in the past: By last May (from a point before May until May), it had broken down thrice; Up to last year, how much had you sold?]

    So,

    Before you moved to London, had you ever tried jellied eel?

    would be fine, as would “did you ever try ...?”, but the latter, to my mind, would be confined more to casual speech.

    Let's not let this drop, folks. I think we're getting close.
    My understanding is that:
    1. Simple past is a point in the past.
    2. Present perfect entails a period, from the past ("perfect") to now ("present").
    3. Past perfect is also a point in the past (that point may be explicit: before or when another action happened then), or entails a period in the past.

    A few years back, there was a guy who was seriously (not joking) on a crusade against the present perfect. He relentlessly posted scores of lengthy threads on a certain site, trying to prove that the present perfect is superfluous and thus a conspiracy to make English harder for non-native speakers and to confuse them!

  4. #14
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    engee30 is offline Key Member
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    Wink Re: Simple Past vs Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by powerlerner View Post

    ...
    "
    When you were living in London, have you ever tried jellied eels?" << Why is it wrong to say "have you ever tried" in that case?
    ...
    When you were living in London, had you ever tried jellied eels?

    Putting grammar aside, I can't see any point in referring to eating jellied eels in the past. What's it got to do with living in London? Nothing, to my mind. It doesn't make sense.
    Hence, the only possible answer is using the Past Simple to link an occasion (occasions) of eating jellied eels during one's living in London.


    When you were living in London, did you ever try jellied eels?

  5. #15
    justinwschang is offline Member
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    Default Re: Simple Past vs Present Perfect

    Maybe London's (Chinatown?) famous for jellied eels? Or it's such a favourite with the speaker and listener that, because that stuff is hardly available in London, the question arose whether the listener was starved of it during that time in London.

  6. #16
    albertino is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Simple Past vs Present Perfect

    The past tense, the past perfect or present perfect tense? Out of context, one could easily fall into such a grammar trap.

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Simple Past vs Present Perfect

    to riverkid:
    thank you very much about telling us the difference between NaE and BE.
    I kinda thought it'd be like that because I've already spent some months in the US (there we got a present perfect that fits into the "result emphasizing" category). And what I realized during my stay was, that many Americans never really cared about whether to use the Present Perfect or the Simple Past.

    The problem is though, I am a student. And English teachers in Germany are strict when it comes to tenses.
    My English teacher told me we can either use NaE or BE as long as we stick with one of them and don't use BE in the one sentence and NaE in the other.

    So my final question is : the thing you mentioned above (the speaker's choice to chose PP/SP), is this just sth that exists in verbal conversations or is that a "grammar rule" that is also applied by book/newspaper authors and is approved by some dictionary to be proper English?

    Because if it is proper English, I'd be glad and if I could somehow prove this fact to my teacher he'd probably let me write the way I wanna write :)
    Geez, sry for those complex sentences I hope y'all could follow what I meant to say (Germans trying to speak English = disaster).

    thx a lot

    PL

  8. #18
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Simple Past vs Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by powerlerner View Post
    to riverkid:
    thank you very much about telling us the difference between NaE and BE.
    I kinda thought it'd be like that because I've already spent some months in the US (there we got a present perfect that fits into the "result emphasizing" category). And what I realized during my stay was, that many Americans never really cared about whether to use the Present Perfect or the Simple Past.
    That's not true, PL. It's simply that NaE uses it in a different fashion than BrE. Certainly it's harder to discern why NaE speakers use it because it is so dependent upon speaker choice and there are a number of reasons that could influence a speaker one way or the other.

    Quote Originally Posted by powerlerner View Post
    The problem is though, I am a student. And English teachers in Germany are strict when it comes to tenses.
    My English teacher told me we can either use NaE or BE as long as we stick with one of them and don't use BE in the one sentence and NaE in the other.
    That's certainly not fair of your teachers to impose such a restriction, especially for speech patterns
    I've read [it was some time ago but it has current relevance; I could have used simple past] in language literature, I'm not sure now where, that the NaE mode for this use of the present perfect is affecting the BrE use.

    Also, in conversation with many BrE speakers, one was my roomate for over a year and a friend for much longer, I noticed the tendency was to use the AmE pattern unless the issue was one of current relevance/importance.

    Quote Originally Posted by powerlerner View Post
    So my final question is : the thing you mentioned above (the speaker's choice to chose PP/SP), is this just sth that exists in verbal conversations or is that a "grammar rule" that is also applied by book/newspaper authors and is approved by some dictionary to be proper English?

    Because if it is proper English, I'd be glad and if I could somehow prove this fact to my teacher he'd probably let me write the way I wanna write :)
    Geez, sry for those complex sentences I hope y'all could follow what I meant to say (Germans trying to speak English = disaster).
    What you have to understand, PL, is that all language is proper language. It just depends on where it's being used. Modern language science recognizes that informal/speech is not wrong/proper and formal/written is right/proper. Rather there are different sets of rules that govern speech and writing.
    [paraphrased from the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language]

    The manner in which BrE uses certain English structures is no better, no more correct than the way AmE, or CdE, or AuE, or NzE uses the same structures.

    You've mentioned some other registers and the ones that are studied are actually; fiction, newspapers and academic. Even within these three, the rules, the usage is often quite different. Teachers have to make it clear to their students just what structures are used in what registers. Just as slang is not appropriate for academic writing, the structure of academic writing, any writing for that matter, is not appropriate to speech.

  9. #19
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Simple Past vs Present Perfect

    Riverkid wrote:
    I don't believe this distinction can be drawn for BrE, Albertino.

    [QUOTE=Justin][Agree, I think both simple past and present perfect are okay for that sentence, but I don't see the distinction about the number of occasions tried].

    I don't understand what you mean here, Justin.

    ====================


    Riverkid wrote:
    I'm going to say, without great conviction and subject to much rethought, that the past perfect tends to be used from some past point in time back to a further past, not over a period of time that a phrase like, “When you were living in London” entails. [I'm not discounting it outright; as I said more thought is needed]

    Quote Originally Posted by Justin
    [The past perfect is also used for action completed in the past, before or when another action happened then: When I asked, we had already waited a month; also for action completed over a period in the past: By last May (from a point before May until May), it had broken down thrice; Up to last year, how much had you sold?]
    We agree here, Justin. That is one of the reasons for the past perfect. And all your examples point to a single point in time, “When I asked”; “By last May”; “Up to last year”, not a continuing passage of time as in “When you were living in London”

  10. #20
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Simple Past vs Present Perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by albertino View Post
    The past tense, the past perfect or present perfect tense? Out of context, one could easily fall into such a grammar trap.
    That's true, A. Context and social register mean everything to structure choice.

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