Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    cubezero3's Avatar
    cubezero3 is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    322
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Simple past and unfinished time

    We know when the simple past is used to refer to an unfinished time, it conveys that the said action happens at a specific time in a regular manner. Suppose it's 9 a.m. and some guy is saying:"Mike didn't read newspaper this morning." This implies that Mike probably has the habit of reading newspaper at some time, say during the breakfast time, before 9 a.m. Now if I happened to hear something like:"It rained a lot this year." from a random source in October. Would it be a natural conclusion that the person who said so is likely to be found in places like Northern part of China, where rain is rare in Autumn and Winter. I'm always amazed at those short sentences that would contain lots of information.

  2. #2
    Soup's Avatar
    Soup is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    5,892
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Simple past and unfinished time

    Hi cubezero3

    All is relative. It rained a lot this year could be about the effects of global warming and therefore an utterance that anyone living anywhere in the world might be heard to say.

  3. #3
    cubezero3's Avatar
    cubezero3 is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    322
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Simple past and unfinished time

    Hello, Soup. Thanks for your reply.

    Can people in Shanghai say so in October? I suppose there're rains there even in winter and the sentence sounds like the speaker is pretty sure there won't be any rain even though there're still two months to go. Unless he's talking about somewhere elsh he knows for sure there would be no rain for the remainder of the year.

  4. #4
    Soup's Avatar
    Soup is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    5,892
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Simple past and unfinished time

    Quote Originally Posted by cubezero3 View Post
    Hello, Soup. Thanks for your reply.

    Can people in Shanghai say so in October? I suppose there're rains there even in winter and the sentence sounds like the speaker is pretty sure there won't be any rain even though there're still two months to go.
    But the sentence It rained a lot this year refers to more than one month; it refers to a 10-month period, December 2007 to October 2007. Did you mean to say It has rained a lot this month? If so, then, again, all is relative. You wouldn't be able to tell where one lives based on the utterance It rained a lot this month/year.

    The same holds true for Mike didn't read the newspaper this morning. Consider this. Mike never reads the newspaper in the moring; in fact, he reads it in the evening. That morning, when his colleagues were discussing the spread of the Swine Flu, Mike asked what they were talking about. He didn't know about it, because "He didn't read the newspaper this morning."

    Context is everything.

  5. #5
    cubezero3's Avatar
    cubezero3 is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    322
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Simple past and unfinished time

    All what I have put down came from an old grammar book. According to that book, simple past is used for what can not be repeated. So, when someone says "John didn't read newspaper this morning" at 9 a.m., the listener can take is as implying John probably has a habit of reading newspaper at a certain time before 9. This explains well why the speaker is so sure about the fact that John will definitely not read newspaper, even though the morning still has three hours to go.

    But I think what you said is abosolutely right. I have never thought of this problem in such a direction. Thank you very much. That's is very helpful. Context is everything.

Similar Threads

  1. i need urgent help
    By nita in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 11-Sep-2009, 13:13
  2. [Grammar] Present Perfect tenses
    By Waawe in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 20
    Last Post: 23-Feb-2009, 17:27
  3. Past perfect tense usage - lack of clarity
    By venkatasu in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 07-May-2008, 11:29
  4. Please help
    By english777 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 11-Jul-2007, 21:48
  5. The Hidden Evidence: The Past Family
    By shun in forum Teaching English
    Replies: 143
    Last Post: 09-Nov-2003, 00:56

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •