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  1. #1
    engpoem is offline Newbie
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    Default Totally lost - Present perfect

    hiya


    1) Present perfect is also used when giving recent information ( that probably means recent events in general ), while past simple is used when giving older information.


    a) Recent event could also be started and finished in the past and also could have no effects on present. So why would you in such cases always use present perfect simple and not past simple?





    2) One definition says that present perfect simple is used to talk about events in general and not specific events. But it also says we use present perfect to talk about very recent events.

    a) So we can use present perfect simple to talk about specific event, but only if that event happened recently?


    b) But how does one decide whether an event is recent or not?




    cheers
    Last edited by engpoem; 30-Sep-2008 at 19:41.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Totally lost - Present perfect

    Not a teacher.

    1) Present perfect is also used when giving recent information ( that probably means recent events in general ), while past simple is used when giving older information.


    a) Recent event could also be started and finished in the past and also could have no effects on present. So why would you in such cases always use present perfect simple and not past simple?
    The present perfect is used to describe an event that began in the past and continues in the present. The simple past is used to describe an event that began and ended in the past.

    "How long have worked for the restaurant?" implies that you were hired in the past, and that you are still working there.

    "How long did you work for the restaurant?" implies that you no longer work at the restaurant.

    If an event started in the recent past (perhaps seconds ago) and is still having an effect, then you use the present perfect.

    "When are you going to start your homework?"

    "I've (I have) already started." (I started the homework in the past, and I am still doing it.)

    If the recent event ended in the past, then you use the past simple.

    "When are you going to start your homework?"

    "I finished my homework already." (I started and finished my homework in the past."

    2) One definition says that present perfect simple is used to talk about events in general and not specific events. But it also says we use present perfect to talk about very recent events.

    a) So we can use present perfect simple to talk about specific event, but only if that event happened recently?


    b) But how does one decide whether an event is recent or not?
    What this means is that present perfect talks about events that began at an unspecified time.

    "King Gustavus Adolphus fought (past simple) against the power of the mighty Holy Roman Empire from 1630 to 1632." is an event that has a specified time.

    "Ikea has made (present perfect) stylish, inexpensive, and long-lasting furniture for people all over the world." There is no time specified as to when Ikea started making furniture.

    "Sweden has had (present perfect) a reputation for being very cold, but it was especially cold (past simple) last winter." Sweden's reputation for cold continues to this day and began at an unspecified time, so we use the present perfect tense. Last winter is a specified time, so the verb is in past simple tense.

    I thought I'd throw some Swedish stuff in there, just for you.

    As stated earlier, recency of an event is not important. It is important if the event continues into the present. Otherwise you would use the simple past tense.

    Hopefully I have been helpful (present perfect!) and answered (past simple!) your question adequately.

  3. #3
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Totally lost - Present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by thedeebo View Post
    Not a teacher.

    The present perfect is used to describe an event that began in the past and continues in the present.

    Except when it doesn't: "I have put the bin out".

    The simple past is used to describe an event that began and ended in the past.

    "I put the bin out" Both of these refer to the same event.
    "I have put the bin out".

    "How long have worked for the restaurant?" implies that you were hired in the past, and that you are still working there. Yes

    "How long did you work for the restaurant?" implies that you no longer work at the restaurant. Yes

    If an event started in the recent past (perhaps seconds ago) and is still having an effect, then you use the present perfect.

    "When are you going to start your homework?"
    This isn't the present perfect. It's the future. What event has just happened?

    "I've (I have) already started." (I started the homework in the past, and I am still doing it.) Yes, but ...
    "I've already finished it." (Present perfect for an event that happened in the past).

    If the recent event ended in the past, then you use the past simple.
    Not necessarily "I've already finished it."

    "When are you going to start your homework?"
    Again, that's the future tense.

    "I finished my homework already." (I started and finished my homework in the past."
    "I've finished my homework already" is BrE for this.

    What this means is that present perfect talks about events that began at an unspecified time.
    "I've been working here since 8am Friday 21st June, 2001"
    (Present perfect with specified time)

    "King Gustavus Adolphus fought (past simple) against the power of the mighty Holy Roman Empire from 1630 to 1632." is an event that has a specified time. Yes

    "Ikea has made (present perfect) stylish, inexpensive, and long-lasting furniture for people all over the world." There is no time specified as to when Ikea started making furniture.
    There could be if you added one... all over the world since 1932"

    "Sweden has had (present perfect) a reputation for being very cold, but it was especially cold (past simple) last winter." Sweden's reputation for cold continues to this day and began at an unspecified time, so we use the present perfect tense. Last winter is a specified time, so the verb is in past simple tense.

    I thought I'd throw some Swedish stuff in there, just for you.

    As stated earlier, recency of an event is not important. It is important if the event continues into the present. Otherwise you would use the simple past tense. Not necessarily. I've given a few examples where this is not the case. This is another.

    Hopefully I have been helpful (present perfect!) and answered (past simple!) your question adequately.
    Hi thedeebo,
    I think some of your usage examples need some rethought.
    Why do you think "You are going to start your homework" is present perfect, when it refers to something in the future, and doesn't have a past participle in it?

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    Default Re: Totally lost - Present perfect

    Thanks Raymott, I appreciate your help. I am posting here in between classes in the library, so I don't always have time to proofread everything. I was trying to illustrate the general rules that should always work. There are always exceptions in English, though.

    I was trying to illustrate how someone would answer a question. I guess I should have clarified.

    "When are you going to start your homework?" is supposed to be my mom yelling up the stairs. The answer is supposed to be the example of the present perfect in conversation. I thought it might make it easier to understand...I guess not.

    So I guess the lesson to be learned here, engpoem, is to listen to the linguistics expert more than the student posting in between classes!

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Totally lost - Present perfect

    a) Recent event could also be started and finished in the past and also could have no effects on present. So why would you in such cases always use present perfect simple and not past simple?
    We don't always choose the present perfect in these circumstances, just as we don't always use the present perfect when there is an effect on the present:
    'Where's Jim?'
    'He popped out to the shops/He's popped out to the shops.'

    I'm not sure that you will refine the rules sufficiently to accommodate all uses without contradictions, etc. They're more guidelines or descriptions of common patterns. Your last question raises an important question- the recency of an event is down to the judgment of the speaker, though there are obviously limits to that flexibility in normal contexts, and different people may well use different tenses to talk about the same thing.

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