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Thread: present perfect

  1. #1
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default present perfect

    My English teacher told me we can use present perfect to say for example:
    I have lost my wallet.
    I have smashed the window.
    and so on...

    Is it true? if it is, I can´t understand when we can use this tense. The time when I lost the wallet ended, didn´t it?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: present perfect

    Hi,

    Present Perfect expresses the idea that something happened (or did not happen) at an unspecified time in the past; the exact time is unimportant. The sentences used by your teacher are correct, but you can also say, 'I lost my wallet a week ago' and it will be just fine.

    If you say, 'I have smashed the window' it will most likely be understood that it happened very recently and you still work on fixing it up, as opposed to saying, 'I smashed the window' and having nothing to do with it any longer.

    Present Perfect is very confusing, if you still do not understand, do not hesitate to ask more questions.

    Iza


    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka
    My English teacher told me we can use present perfect to say for example:
    I have lost my wallet.
    I have smashed the window.
    and so on...

    Is it true? if it is, I can´t understand when we can use this tense. The time when I lost the wallet ended, didn´t it?

  3. #3
    bluejazzshark Guest

    Default Re: present perfect

    Hi,

    The present perfect can be confusing. What you have to bear in mind in choosing between the present perfect and past simple is that actions in the present perfect *have an effect on the present*.

    E.g:

    I've lost my keys
    =I lost my keys, and I don't have them now

    I lost my keys
    in this example, it is possible that I found they keys *before now*

    I've cleaned the car
    =It is still clean now

    I cleaned the car
    = I cleaned the car, and it is possible that it is now dirty.

    I've lived here for ten years
    = I still live here

    I lived here for ten years
    = In the past, I lived here, and I probably don't now. (Needs more
    information)

    I've already eaten
    = I ate a while ago, and I'm still not hungry, so I don't want any food now.
    (this is different in the USA...)

    In his acting career, Bradd Pitt has starred in some great movies
    = his career continues to the present day

    It is also used to announce news:

    "Hey everyone! John's crashed his car"
    "The USA has declared war on Iraq"
    "Listen up guys! I've won the lottery!"

    Is is always used with "ever" and "never" because ever and never refer to all the time in your life up to the present moment:

    Have you read "Romeo and Juliet"?
    I've never lived in Russia.

    With the lives of dead people, we use the past simple because their lives have no connection to the present:

    Einstein never realized his dream of the "Unified Field Theory".
    Miles Davis had a great influence on contemporary jazz.

    Your examples:

    I've lost my wallet
    = I lost my wallet and I don't have it now.

    I've smashed the window
    = You presenting news of the window being recently broken.
    It is very likely that the window is still broken (i.e. no-one has replaced
    it)

    If you want, you can say "Hey! I lost my wallet a little while ago and
    I still don't have it". But "I've lost my wallet" is more succinct.

    Remember that we also have to use the present perfect for life experiences, since past experiences in our lives make us who we are today:

    I my life I've sailed through the Amazon, I've climbed several volcanoes and I've learnt 16 different languages... etc.

    Here, you're descriptions are not time specific. If you want to be specific about what actually happened, the past simple is used:

    In my life, I've sailed through the Amazon, I've climbed several volcanoes.... When I was in the Amazon I went to Manaus and arranged a tour in the forest and we hunted crocodiles....etc...

    I hope this clears a few things up for you!

    Blue.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka
    My English teacher told me we can use present perfect to say for example:
    I have lost my wallet.
    I have smashed the window.
    and so on...

    Is it true? if it is, I can´t understand when we can use this tense. The time when I lost the wallet ended, didn´t it?

  4. #4
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default

    I must say I thank you really very much you helped me and explained it. Tell the true, I understand it much more now. Thanks! I am so glad there are still some nice people who are willing to give you advice when you need it. But I still have one question. Now, I do understand, why we should say „I have lost my wallet“, but I found this sentense in my textbook, and I don’t understand why they used just past simple instead of present perfect. Here it is:

    Her first book came out in 1980. Since then, she has sold more than 5 milloin copies. She went to school of England, and studied English at Oxford University, but she has lived in the country for most of her life. She writes books by hand. She has had the same pen since 1995.

    This was only a part of a text in my English textbok. I don’t understand these sentences:

    …and studied at Oxfor University,…. – why they used past simple? It is an experience, isn’t it? I think it is… And if it isn‘t how can I know that just this isn’t understood as an experience?

    …but she has lived in the country for most of her life. – Why there is present perfect in here? She doesn’t live there now, does she? Could it be understood as an experience?

    She writes books by hand. – I understand that present simple sounds better here, but I have got one question: Could I say/write: She has written books by hand. ? Why not? She was perhaps always writing her books in the past and it continues in present. I think I am not very right, but I won’t to know why I can’t use it just here.

    It is the same as in sentence: She is a teacher. –why don’t we use „She has been a teacher.“ ?
    Could we say: „She has always been a teacher.“ ?

    Is this correct? : I have heard that you had bought new clothes.
    Is this correct? : I have bouhgt new clothes.
    Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes today.
    Is this correct? : I have once bought new clothes.
    Is this correct? : I have several times bought new clothes.

    Well, now I only hope you’ll answer my questions. I understand I perhaps asked too much, but I want to be sure I understand it.
    Thank you.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Hi Lenka,

    …and studied at Oxfor University,…. – why they used past simple? It is an experience, isn’t it? I think it is

    She finished studying, she is not studying anymore, the action of studying is done....you have to use past simple.

    It is not considered an experience, since the action of studying is very specific in time (she studied for 4 years or so).

    …but she has lived in the country for most of her life. – Why there is present perfect in here? She doesn’t live there now, does she? Could it be understood as an experience?

    Yes, she does live there now and I know this from the tense that the author of the text is using to express that. There is nothing in the text that would suggest that she does not live there now.

    She writes books by hand. – I understand that present simple sounds better here, but I have got one question: Could I say/write: She has written books by hand. ? Why not? She was perhaps always writing her books in the past and it continues in present. I think I am not very right, but I won’t to know why I can’t use it just here.

    The sentence is written in present simple, since this tense is used to express habitual or everyday activities. Also, the sentence ends with "by hand", which makes the time unimportant here, but the way she does it, hence present simple is used.

    It is the same as in sentence: She is a teacher. –why don’t we use „She has been a teacher.“ ?
    Could we say: „She has always been a teacher.“ ?


    Yes, you can say that.

    Is this correct? : I have heard that you had bought new clothes.
    Is this correct? : I have bouhgt new clothes.
    Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes today.
    Is this correct? : I have once bought new clothes.
    Is this correct? : I have several times bought new clothes.


    1) correct
    2) I bought new clothes today.
    3) I once bought new cloths.
    4) correct, I have bought new cloths several times (since last week). Put 'several times' at the end.

    I hope it helps,
    Iza

  6. #6
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    and studied at Oxfor University,…. – why they used past simple? It is an experience, isn’t it? I think it is
    There is not much "link" with the present. She studied there, but it's over and it doesn't have much bearings on the present. This really is a narration.

    but she has lived in the country for most of her life. – Why there is present perfect in here?
    Because the period of time taken into consideration runs up to now. Now there's a link with the present.

    Could I say/write: She has written books by hand. ?
    You could say that if she did it, say, once or twice. The corresponding question would be "has she ever written a book by hand?"

    It is the same as in sentence: She is a teacher. –why don’t we use „She has been a teacher.“ ?
    Again, if you say "she's been a teacher", it must have a strong link with the present. For instance, "she's been a teacher for two years" or "she's been a teacher, she must know the answer to this question!".

    Could we say: „She has always been a teacher.“ ?
    Yes, It looks fine to me.

    - Is this correct? : I have heard that you had bought new clothes.
    I would say "I have heard that you bought new clothes"
    - Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes.
    Yes, it can be correct, depending on context.
    - Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes today.
    Looks fine.
    - Is this correct? : I have once bought new clothes.
    Looks wrong. Is there a tight link with the present?
    - Is this correct? : I have several times bought new clothes
    I suppose it can be right, eg. "I have bought (him) new clothes several times, but he keeps on wearing the same old pairs of jeans and dirty tee-shirts".

    Am I correct?

    FRC

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    Iza was faster!

    FRC

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    Hi,

    I have missed one question...

    Is this correct? : I have heard that you had bought new clothes.
    Is this correct? : I have bouhgt new clothes.
    Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes today.
    Is this correct? : I have once bought new clothes.
    Is this correct? : I have several times bought new clothes.


    1) correct
    2) I bought new clothes today.
    3) I once bought new cloths.
    4) correct, I have bought new cloths several times (since last week). Put 'several times' at the end.


    1) I have heard that you bought new cloths.

    ...and then consequently 1) becomes 2) and so on.

    Iza

  9. #9
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    Hi. may I chime in?

    (1) What's difference between present perfect and past perfect here?
    --I have bought that dress yesterday.
    --I had bought that dress last year.
    ( I was trying to use different adverb of time to differentiate two tenses. 'yesterday' sends me to a point of time that is nearer than "last year," so I use 'have bought' and 'had bought' repectively.)


    (2) How about this? Any nuance here?
    --I have lived here for many years.
    --I have been living here for many years.


    I'm looking forward to your answers. Thanks.

  10. #10
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    What's difference between present perfect and past perfect here?
    --I have bought that dress yesterday.
    --I had bought that dress last year.
    I would say: "I bought that dress yesterday".
    As for the difference between the 2 tenses, I'll give you two examples:
    "I've bought that dress at the flea market, you want to wash it before wearing it"
    "If I had bought that dress at the flea market, I would have washed it before wearing it"

    --I have lived here for many years.
    --I have been living here for many years.
    If you're still living here now, you would say "I've been living...".

    FRC

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