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  1. #1
    joerg is offline Newbie
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    had been preceded OR was preceded ?

    Can anyone please tell me which solution is more appropriate and correct usage repectively? My guess is "had been preceded", but I am not sure. Thank you very much

    Example:
    From 1977 his posters have dealt with social topics , such as the poster series from 1981 , which was preceded (had been preceded ?) by a plant activity.
    ----------------------------

    I was told that you use Present Perfect when talking about an action that started in the past without mentioning a specific time. Does that mean I have to use Present Perfect Progressive in Example#2, as "1981" is a specific time? Then again, I have seen examples like "I have been studying English for three years.." and "I have studied English for three years..". Is "three years " not specific then? Does it mean, whenever I use "since" in combination with something like "1978" I have to use Present Perfect Progressive?

    Example #2: Since 1981 he has documented (has been documenting) the changes in his immediate social environment.

    --------------------------------------


    I have read that normal restrictions apply to verbs that don't take continuous forms like in the example below:
    Example #3:
    I've had this car since 1987. It's time I changed it.
    INCORRECT: *I've been having this car since 1987. It's time I changed it.*

    But Iam sure I have seen sentences like "I have been having..." ??

    -------------------------------------

    Example #4: In 1991 he was awarded a prize OR had been awarded a prize? (I have to admit, these tenses confuse me at times, the more I think about them.)

    Regards Jorg
    Last edited by joerg; 13-Feb-2009 at 19:03.

  2. #2
    abaka is offline Senior Member
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    Re: had been preceded OR was preceded ?

    Example: From 1977 his posters have dealt with social topics , such as the poster series from 1981, which was preceded by a plant activity.
    ----------------------------

    "Was preceded". You are describing the present state of affairs (present perfect tense), then go back into the past.

    I'm not really sure what you mean by "a plant activity", but that's not the issue.

    Example #2: Since 1981 he has documented the changes in his immediate social environment.

    Either is fine. "Has been documenting" stresses the uninterrupted nature of his work.

    Example #3: I've had this car since 1987. It's time I changed it.

    The car has been yours since 1987; there is no need to use the pf.continuous. Look at the difference:

    "I've had a lot of trouble with it" -- from 1987 on, perhaps sporadically.

    "I've been having a lot of trouble with it" -- not since 1987, but recently, and without interruption.

    -------------------------------------

    Example #4: In 1991 he was awarded a prize OR had been awarded a

    In 1991 he was awarded a prize. Simple past.

    The past perfect denotes a state of affairs or a situation that was already fully complete by the time something else happened in the past.

    "Before he was awarded his prize in 1991, he had been given no recognition."

    Rule #1: If in doubt, don't use the continuous.
    Rule #2: If in doubt, don't use the past perfect.

    BUT Rule #3: Make sure you are comfortable with the present perfect. (Doen't apply here.)

  3. #3
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    Re: had been preceded OR was preceded ?

    Rule #1: If in doubt, don't use the continuous.
    Rule #2: If in doubt, don't use the past perfect.

    BUT Rule #3: Make sure you are comfortable with the present perfect. (Doen't apply here.)


    MASTER RULE: keep working on the tenses so you don't have any doubt!!!!!!
    Grammar is not 'hedging one's bets' about which tense is appropriate!
    For example:
    Example #2: Since 1981 he has documented (has been documenting) the changes in his immediate social environment.

    Since 1981 he has documented ...
    This is Present Perfect tense. It refers to the time span, the period of time from 1981 to NOW, over which he has documented the changes. This can be pictured as:
    |<1981....has documented....................>|NOW
    All we know for sure is that the documentation has occurred over a period of time (from 1981) up to today. Further context would tell us for sure if he will be continuing, or not, as in:
    "Since 1981 he has documented the changes in his immediate social environment. With his retirement today, we can only hope that some other sociologically-minded citizen in our town will continue his valuable contribution in recording our history and heritage."
    In contrast,
    "Since 1981, he has been documenting..." is Present Perfect Continuous. This indicates a task in progress not yet completed i.e. continuing, and we can picture that as:
    |<1981..................NOW..............>
    Here, the speaker's use of the Present Perfect Continuous tense makes it clear that the work is continuing beyond NOW, that is is a long-term (since 1981) work in progress.

    Example #3: I've had this car since 1987. It's time I changed it.
    INCORRECT: *I've been having this car since 1987. It's time I changed it.*

    But Iam sure I have seen sentences like "I have been having..." ??


    Remember that has/have/had are auxiliary verbs; BUT .... 'to have' can also mean 'to own, possess'. You either do or don't have/own/ possess something -black and white - so there is no Continuous form when 'to have' = to own. So, you can 'own a car', and have done so since 1987, but you can't say, "I have been having/owning this car since 1987".
    You can certainly say:
    I've been having this car serviced/spray-painted (and I'm not happy with the work they have done so far).
    and
    "I've been having a lot of headaches recently."

    In Example 4, you are dealing with Simple Past, versus Past Perfect.
    Start by comparing these two pieces of narrative:
    1. “I opened the front door and walked in. It seemed unusually quiet. I called out but there was no answer, so I walked into the kitchen. Nothing seemed amiss…until I saw a pool of blood …”

    2. "I was in the building when the first plane struck the East Tower, a few floors above me.I had gone into work that morning, even though it was my day off, as I had some work I needed to catch up on."
    (Survivor account, 9/11).


    In (1), written in Simple Past Tense, the ideas develop sequentially. In (2), the clause ‘had gone into work’ is written in Past Perfect, and one use of the Past Perfect is to clearly place the time that one action takes place before another. 'going into work' obviously must have happened before 'being in the building when the plane hit', yet comes after the reference to being in the building. The PP tense form indicates that that event occurred prior to other events.

    Another use: take this sentence:-
    "He had been awarded the Nobel Prize, but was stripped of the honour when he was found guilty of plagiarism."
    Here, the series of events are in their correct time sequence. The PP form of the verb in the first clause alerts the native English speaker that something else unexpected then happened, which the speaker is going to relate in the next clause. Another example would be:
    "I had gone to the shop to buy milk and a paper, and was just leaving when all of a sudden, this robber burst in with a gun and...
    Last edited by David L.; 14-Feb-2009 at 09:35.

  4. #4
    joerg is offline Newbie
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    Re: had been preceded OR was preceded ?

    Thanks for your detailed remarks and all the excellent examples. I still have one more question, though. Would you say this sentence is appropriate?

    Since March 2001, he has been Chairman und CEO at....

    Or should it be

    Since March 2001, he is Chairman und CEO...

    Any helpful comments would be much appreciated, thank to you all in advance!

    Regards Jorg

  5. #5
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    Re: had been preceded OR was preceded ?

    N.A.T.

    He has been.
    'He is', is French. or more correctly, would seem to be a translation of how the French put it.

    "Depuis 1999 il est le President de...."

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