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    #1

    Present Perfect: In terms of "meaning"

    Please see the following dialog.

    A: I'd like to know more about you.
    B: (1) I worked in the insurace industry for over ten years.
    (2) I have been working in the insurance industry for over then years.
    (3) I've worked in the insurance industry for over ten years.

    Here's my questions.
    ---------------------------------------------
    1. I think three anwers could be in the above context. Right?
    2. IMBO, (1) sounds like B are not working in the insurance industry and (2) sounds like B are working in the insurance industry. Right?
    3. Actually, (3) is a little bit treaky to me. I guess (3) could be both. That is,
    (3.1) I've worked in the insurance industry for oever ten years, but not now.
    (3.2) I've worked in the insurance industry for oever ten years, and I'm currently working now.

    What do you think?

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    #2

    Re: Present Perfect: In terms of "meaning"

    I worked in the insurance industry for over ten years.

    Past simple: you no longer work in the insurance industry.

    I have been working in the insurance industry for over ten years.

    Present perfect continuous: This suggests you have recently stopped working in the insurance industry.

    I've worked in the insurance industry for over ten years.

    Present perfect: You continue to work in the insurance industry.


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    #3

    Re: Present Perfect: In terms of "meaning"

    Hi Fittle, there's something in your comment I fail to understand. In what ways would 'I have been working in the insurance industry....' suggest that the speaker has recently stopped working in that field?. I have been living in Spain for over fifteen years and I here I am, still living in Spain. Actually, I have lived here since I met my wife. I'm afraid I don't see your point. Can you please make it clear?.

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    #4

    Re: Present Perfect: In terms of "meaning"

    We use the present perfect continuous to refer to an activity which took place over a period of time and, usually, has recently stopped.

    You telephone has been ringing(It has now stopped)

    It has been raining(It is not raining now)


    I have lived in Spain since I met my wife. This is the present perfect and suggests to me that you are still living in Spain now.

    With all rules there are grey areas and sometimes different interpretations can be put on a sentence. I am giving you my view as a native speaker of many years and have given other examples to explain my reason for that interpretation.

    Frank


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    #5

    Re: Present Perfect: In terms of "meaning"

    Ok then, but I still don't get it, and it is not that I am being difficult. Maybe it is just a question of context and sentences in isolation fail to illustrate grammar rules. To me, 'It has been raining' doesn't necessarily imply that it isn't raining now (in fact I don't think anybody would utter such a thing unless in a precise context, and that, I think is what we are missing). You are a native speaker and, of course, you are right but there must be a way of expressing why you feel it is like that and this is what I don't get. Thank you.


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    #6

    Re: Present Perfect: In terms of "meaning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Flittle View Post
    We use the present perfect continuous to refer to an activity which took place over a period of time and, usually, has recently stopped.

    Hi Frank. Both the present perfect and the present perfect continuous can describe actions which are over/finished or actions which continue into the present.

    Your telephone has been ringing(It has now stopped)

    Here, I'd say it's being used to illustrate that many people have been phoning. Of course, a telephone never rings continuously for hours on end. No one would let one call just keep on ringing for hours.

    The idea inherent in what the speaker is saying is, "Wait a minute or so and it'll probably ring again".



    It has been raining(It is not raining now)

    As a stand alone, it may well lead the listener to think that it has stopped. But just because it could doesn't mean it always has to.

    It has been raining for hours/days.


    I have lived in Spain since I met my wife. This is the present perfect and suggests to me that you are still living in Spain now.

    But, "I have lived in Spain", the PP of experience, can also show a finished situation, one where the speaker no longer lives in Spain, can it not?

    With all rules there are grey areas and sometimes different interpretations can be put on a sentence. I am giving you my view as a native speaker of many years and have given other examples to explain my reason for that interpretation.

    There are indeed gray areas. Context is very very very important to determining structure choice.

    Frank
    ####


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    #7

    Re: Present Perfect: In terms of "meaning"

    Quote Originally Posted by soleiljy View Post
    Please see the following dialog.

    A: I'd like to know more about you.
    B: (1) I worked in the insurance industry for over ten years.
    (2) I have been working in the insurance industry for over then years.
    (3) I've worked in the insurance industry for over ten years.

    Here's my questions.
    ---------------------------------------------
    1. I think three answers could be used in the above context. Right?

    Right, Soleiljy.

    2. IMBO, (1) sounds like B [are] is not working in the insurance industry and (2) sounds like B is [are] working in the insurance industry. Right?

    That would generally be the understanding given what was said. But the present perfect continuous structure could be used when the action is finished.

    I have been working in the insurance industry until recently.

    [it's still afternoon, the report is finished and your colleague says to you]

    "I've been working on this report all afternoon."

    What the present perfect continuous describes is the current relevance of this "arduous task"/ the recent completion of this task



    3. Actually, (3) is a little bit [treaky] tricky to me. I guess (3) could be both. That is,
    (3.1) I've worked in the insurance industry for over ten years, but not now.
    (3.2) I've worked in the insurance industry for over ten years, and I'm currently working now.

    What do you think?

    Once again, you're right, S. ESLs have to learn to distinguish between the different kinds of present perfect. In this case it could be an experential PP [a PP of experience], a continuative PP or even possibly a PP of current relevance. For example, the person is trying to get a new job with another insurance company and even though they are not currently working, they relate that this past action, "working in the insurance industry" has a relevance that is important to now.

    All too often, grammar books give isolated examples that trick even native speakers.

    In a real life situation, the context usually clues us in to what is meant. If not, we simply ask for clarification. "Are you still in the insurance industry?"

    @@@@@@@@@@

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    #8

    Re: Present Perfect: In terms of "meaning"

    Hi Riverkid,

    I don't disagree with anything that you have said, I was trying to give a simple answer to the question and to explain what the probable meaning was. Obviously if you add further qualifying information it's possible to change that meaning.
    It has always been my view that the teaching of the present perfect is often over complicated by grammar books and teachers alike. I doubt the average native speaker makes the distinctions you mention in the last part of your reply. It is clear that simple rules help learners of second languages to grasp ideas, when it becomes possible for them to see the flaws in these rules, perhaps we as teachers have achieved something!

    Frank
    Last edited by Flittle; 03-Feb-2008 at 13:07. Reason: error


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    #9

    Re: Present Perfect: In terms of "meaning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Flittle View Post
    Hi Riverkid,

    I don't disagree with anything that you have said, I was trying to give a simple answer to the question and to explain what the probable meaning was. Obviously if you add further qualifying information it's possible to change that meaning.

    Hi again, Frank. You're so right; context means everything and that probably goes at least double for the present perfect. What was it that Albert Einstein said; "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler".


    It has always been my view that the teaching of the present perfect is often over complicated by grammar books and teachers alike. I doubt the average native speaker makes the distinctions you mention in the last part of your reply. It is clear that simple rules help learners of second languages to grasp ideas, when it becomes possible for them to see the flaws in these rules, perhaps we as teachers have achieved something!

    Frank
    And I think it has been under complicated. By trying to overly simplify, distinctions that are there in language continue to cause confusion.

    I'm going to assume that you meant my last posting, the one to Soleiljy, when you said; "I doubt the average native speaker makes the distinctions you mention in the last part of your reply".

    There really is no "average speaker". All speakers of a language have access to all the grammatical structures and grammatical nuances of their language.

    ESLs aren't making these questions up out of whole cloth. Obviously they are seeing and hearing things in the language that just don't square with what they've been taught.

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    #10

    Re: Present Perfect: In terms of "meaning"

    Hi again Riverkid, I'm not really sure that this thread is the place for this discussion but anyway let me explain my ideas.
    As a speaker of French as a second language my quest is to speak French as a native speaker would and I would add that I have a way to go yet! This desire colours my ideas on teaching English. I don't believe we should analyse language to the nth degree because it becomes boring and people lose interest. As far as the present perfect is concerned, mistakes often cause no problem with comprehension because the differences can be subtle. In the presence of other information or context if you prefer, the meaning is often clear. I chose my two examples and my statement of when we use the present perfect continuous from 'Grammar for English Language Teachers'
    Martin Parrot Cambridge University Press. If you believe I am wrong, at least I'm in good company!!

    Whilst teaching English as a second language, we are trying to equip people to live their lives and run their affairs in another culture, we are not attempting to train people to obtain a university degree! I mention the average native speaker because if I could speak French like an avn, I would be truly delighted. This must be the goal, to communicate like a native.

    On another subject, I realise that as far as the language is concerned we are more or less in agreement but as far as achieving the result, perhaps we are a little way apart.
    There is clearly room for different opinions and I respect your right to have yours; I just hope you respect mine.

    Frank

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