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  1. #21
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    Default Re: What does the auther express when using Past & Present Perfect in this paragraph

    I don't need that much sleep these days - I've finally caught up with Maggie Thatcher who only needed/needs 4 hours a night!

    If you are new to the idea of the tense forms conveying a person's perspective of a situation/event, we could talk more about that as well?

    But - enough for the day.

  2. #22
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    Default Re: What does the auther express when using Past & Present Perfect in this paragraph

    Hello, David. Sorry for the delay. Doing two jobs seven days a week, it's really not for me to make my schedule.

    I have spent quite a lot of time to study your reply and to try to use it to analyze other ariticles, although the later doesn't go any further so far. I think that's because I don't really understand what you said here. So here I would like to keep the focus on this article and put down my thoughts as following:

    1>As to your example, a leaving bus, it's only a matter of several seconds, which, if considered in terms of time, can be viewed as present, the use of present tense is thus easily justified, as most grammar books would state:"Present tense is used for what is happening at the moment of speaking." The rise in the number of appeals, on the other hand, might occur a few days, or even a few weeks back. It seems to me these to cases don't match quite well.

    2>Then again, my confusion may well be unnecessary, since you've already stated clearly the theory. So I move on to the next issue, the author's perspective. At this stage, it's seems this means how a writer would define what would be classed as present. Furthermore, I take a guess to believe for a writer, who is a native English speaker, the choices of tenses must be much less mechanical, while those using English as a second language may be restricted by rules like:"Use simple past when the time is certain. Use present perfect when you don't know the exact time", as they were taught by grammar books. When I am writing in Chinese, I seldom take grammar into my consideration, as long as I'm sure readers would have no problems understanding my words. Sometimes, an article is said to be nice merely because it doesn't follow the routine. Am I right to think so?

    3>Now let's move back to the definition of present. If an English writer sometimes may "locate the eventsof how we ourselves view the event", I am quite curious as to what the boundary will be.When describing events in the past, people from time to time may adopt historic present. Can I view this as an extreme example of viewing past events as part of an ongoing matter? Only in this case the whole history of human society, or even universe is thought to be in progress, starting from extremely far past and extending to whenever this universe may still be in exsistence. If the answer is yes, I suppose this would lead to the conclusion that an author has absolute freedom to extend what he may describe as present, as long as he is able to convince his readers to believe so.

    4>Then I can't help thinking this article over with the help of this new approach as I understood it. Here's the formula kindly provided by you:

    .....Past..............<larger number of appeals---------------story appears--------parents waiting---------outcome>|.....Future........
    A strange thought occurs to me a few days back, saying:"Wait a minute. Now we consider 'the increase ... is actually at the START of the CURRENT ACTION'. Why don't we push it a bit more to consider ministers' urging families to appeal as the start. It's clear that 'The rise comes after ministers urged families to appeal'. In other words, ministers' urging families to appeal is the reason and the increase in the number is the result. Logically it would make sense to rewrite the paragraph in another way." So here it the changed paragraph:

    The rise comes after ministers urge families to appeal if they are rejected ... faith schools are breaking the admissions rules ...
    This is seemingly right, at least according to my understanding of the perspective. But doubts remain. If this extention goes on and on, past tense would probably be out of business, which is obviously not true. These muse be something wrong with my thinking.

    5>Can a writer sometimes view what happened a few years, or ever a few decades back as part of an ongoing matter? I don't know. But I guess it might be safe to consider event occured a few days ago in this way.

    There is an English corner near to my flat and I visit this English corner every Wednesday night. It's there I got to know my friend Alex, a wouldbe college graduate who is trying desperately to get a position in New Oriential English School, the largest of the like here in China. He's asked to perform a series of demo lessons. The latest one was on last Tuesday and the next one will be in this afternoon. He didn't do well last time. Suppose now I'm asked to write about his interview. I guess the following would be acceptable:

    Alex ... spends a lot of time preparing the interview after the interviewers told him to get ready for the upcoming demo lessons. He doesn't do well so far. But he is now being taught by those experienced. So I believe he's going to be alright this time.
    Then I thought maybe I should take the risk and push it even more:

    Alex ... spends a lot of time preparing the interview after the interviewers told him to get ready for the upcoming demo lessons. He doesn't do well last time/Tuesday. However, he finds some experienced guys to train him after that. So I think he's going to be alright this time.
    I've tried my best to condense it. This is the shortest one I can write. So, I suppose I'd call this my last week's homework.

    PS:Sleep only four hours a day!?? Do you feel tired at daytime because of this? If not, that would be wonderful. My grandfather on my father's side used to sleep five hours every day and would still be as energetic as he had been. I'm always envious of people like them. They're actually living a longer effective life. As to me, if I don't wake up naturally, I will be lethargic at everything.

    Thanks again, David. I am looking forward to hearing your reply.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: What does the auther express when using Past & Present Perfect in this paragraph

    You suggested: The rise comes after ministers urge families to appeal

    The author used the Past tense "urged" because that action/event is seen as finished/over/complete. (It would be pointless for anyone to continue 'urging' parents to appeal, because at the time of writing, the date for lodging appeals is over: the figures are in - there has been a rise in the number of appeals.) The ministers 'urged', and in response, parents sent in appeals.

    The newspaper article you chose to analyze relies heavily on a clear understanding the Present tense form of the verb. I think we need to take a couple of steps back and look at this verb form carefully.
    To help me, look at these sentences:
    1. (guests are waiting to throw a surprise birthday party): "Here he comes! Everybody hide!"
    You would accept this as a correct use, since you wrote:
    "...most grammar books would state:'Present tense is used for what is happening at the moment of speaking.'"

    How then would you understand:
    "My trains leaves next Sunday morning from Paddington."
    Not only is this not happening NOW, but won't happen for six days.
    And:
    "He comes here quite often, but I haven't seen him at all this week."
    The man referred to isn't 'coming' as he speaks, and apparently, hasn't 'come' for over a week.

    Don't look at any books. Just tell me your thoughts.
    Last edited by David L.; 01-Jun-2009 at 15:56.

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    Default Re: What does the auther express when using Past & Present Perfect in this paragraph

    David, I am sorry for not showing up for such a long time. My jobs absorbed all my spare time and energy. I have though through this article several times and read many a grammarbook - I've only just seen your reply - and I would post my most recent understanding with regards to the choice of tenses in the report as soon as I have enough time to put in an articulate post.

    Having been through these guides from the library, I am now even more suspicious of whether a clear boarder could drawn between the Kindoms of present continuous and simple present. I would use your examples to show it here:

    How then would you understand:
    "My trains leaves next Sunday morning from Paddington."
    Not only is this not happening NOW, but won't happen for six days.
    Here, the simple past tense is used to refer to an future event that, in this case, is scheduled to happen, since the timetable for train services is usually certain. Then, how about this:My trains are leaving next Sunday morning from Paddington. The present continuous. And these two sentences express exactly the same meaning - a certain event is set to happen in the future.

    If I am allowed to introduce in something off the topit, the future continuous could be used here without even the slightest change of the meaning:My trains will be leaving next Sunday morning from Paddington.

    And:
    "He comes here quite often, but I haven't seen him at all this week."
    The man referred to isn't 'coming' as he speaks, and apparently, hasn't 'come' for over a week.
    It immediately sprang to my mind that I could use the present continuous here. In your example, the word 'comes' conveys a concept that this happens in a time frame that is much wider than the usual moment of speaking but still allowed to be regarded as now. Like you said, "The man referred to isn't 'coming' as he speaks."

    Then again, I have come across this setence:"What are you saving money for?" and, as I understand it, people may hear this sentence from their friends even when, at the very moment the question is made, they are paying for a precious thing. The use of present continuous may convey the same meaning that the action is not taking place when the person is speaking, but could be viewed as an ongoing matter in a much wider period. Say, I want to study in the UK and are saving money for the purpose. But as today is my beloved girl's birthday, I would still pay a good deal of money for a nice gift.

    Although, I cannot change your example to something like "He is coming here quite often....", for this would add an extra sense of annoyance to the original meaning. I would feel rather confortable to convert my own example in to:"What do you save money for?" and take them as having the same meaning.

    When I started learning this language in the fourth form, everything was nicely and comfortably crystal clear. King PC was in charge of what was happening at the time of speaking and Queen SP took every actin that was generally true and habitual in her possesion. As I study on, the distinction becomes pretty vague. It seems the two sovereign rullers always appear to be battling on the same lands. And I? I went bananas.:)

  5. #25
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    Default Re: What does the auther express when using Past & Present Perfect in this paragraph

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    In the opening paragraph, the reporter notes:
    The number of appeals … has jumped by 16 per cent on a year ago…
    The appeals for this current year were lodged before NOW – the time of writing this report - but the outcome of the appeals is still pending, still an ongoing matter. So, by then using the Present tense “The rise comes after ministers urged families to appeal…”, the reporter maintains this sense of immediacy : yes, the appeals were lodged some time ago, but this rise means is that more parents are angry (that instead of the school of their choice, they have been offered an ‘inferior’ school); and that the outcome of the appeals is still ongoing and of great immediate relevance to these parents.
    When I was having lunch one hour ago, I suddenly realised why I hadn't come to the same conclusion as you did.

    It's about the understanding of The rise. I thought, at that time, that since the definite article had been used then The rise muse refer what had been mentioned before, which in this case was the sixteen per cent rise. The thought led me to a different route and I simply could not understand why this sixteen per cent rise, which had been realised before the areticle was wrriten, should be viewed as part of an ongoing matter.

    It occured to me today that the rise could also refer to the general concept of rise, the one probably caused by the ministers' words, and the one would obviously last more than the period between the day ministers urged people to do so and the day this article was written. It is so obvious that the rise was an ongoing matter then. How daft I was.

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