- For Teachers
--Does Trevor still work there?
--No, he left.
This dialogue comes from CAMBRIDGE LEARNER'S DICTIONARY (leave). I'd like to know why the answer isn't 'No, he's left', as we are always told by grammar books.
Thank you in advance.
Attention: I’m not a teacher.
I will try to explain you away the difference between the Past Indefinite and the Present Perfect.
An action expressed by the Past Indefinite belongs exclusively to the sphere of the past, while the Present Perfect shows that a past occurrence is connected with the present time.
She changed very much a great many years ago.
She is not well and has changed very much of late.
No, he left (yesterday, the day before yesterday, or a month ago)
No, he has left already.
“I hired a new pianist from St.Joe – a Negro.” (yesterday, the day before yesterday, or a month ago)
“I have just hired a new pianist from St.Joe – a Negro”
“I wrote to him.”
“I have just written to him”.
of late = recently, lately, in the recent past
We can use either, even when the event has just happened. The present perfect is used for HOT NEWS and for past events that have a importance to now, often called, "current relevance". It can also be used to be more formal/polite.
But, and this is vitally important. It all depends on speaker choice. In the situation that you've presented, the speaker isn't all that concerned about Trevor and his leaving, it's just a simple finished event.
Hi, Riverkid. As Martin Hewing says in his ADVANCED GRAMMAR IN USE, when we use the present perfect, it suggests some kind of connection between what happened in the past, and the present time. To a Chinese learner of English like me, you know, the 'Does' in the sentence 'Does Trevor still work there?' shows the present time. So I would think the first speaker wants to learn about the present situation, and therefore, the listener should use a present perfect. If the listener says 'No, he left', then he is saying 'No, he left, like, two months ago'. But the first speaker doesn't want to know when Trevor left. So I would think he or she wouldn't want this answer of 'No, he left'. Am I right in thinking this?
Thank you very much again.
--No, he left.
If Mr Hewing didn't emphasize that the use of simple past versus the present perfect is a matter of speaker choice, he should have, Joham. I specifically addressed this,
because, obviously, there must be a reason(s) why we choose one over the other."But, and this is vitally important. It all depends on speaker choice."
Just out of curiosity, Joham, what nationality is Martin Hewing?
Joham: Does Trevor still work here?
worker: No, [with 'no', your question has been answered] he left.
'he left' doesn't address the issue of time. It simply confirms that 'Trevor is no longer there'. 'he's left' also doesn't address the issue of time. It only adds a degree of importance to the collocation.
Thank you for your kind help. I'm a lot clearer now.
Martin Hewings is British. He seems to be teaching in Birmingham University.
I'm very very sorry I didn't know you asked this question here. It was just now when I was re-studying my own posts and the replies here that I found this question of yours, after more than one and a half years.
I hope you don't think I'm impolite. I really didn't know about that.
CAMBRIDGE LEARNER'S DICTIONARY was published by Cambridge University Press in England in 2001.
Thank you again for your kind help.