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  1. #1
    SYLA SYEG is offline Newbie
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    Default Past tense and present perfect tenses

    Hi! I'm from Brazil. I need some help on a subject which seems to be always playing tricks even on teachers themselves. Well, it's about the use of the past tense and the present prefect tense. The past simple is used when we mean an action that happened and finished in a time or period in the past. For instance: I went to the USA last summer. Or I used to dance a lot when I was a kid. In this sentence which is correct: I have had my breakfast at 6:30 today. ( in this case I use the present perfect because I consider that the day (today) is still going on in spite of the action "having breakfast" be done. ) Or I had my breakfast at 6:30 today. ( in this case I use the past tense because the action of having breakfast is finished even though I use "today" to finish the sentence.)

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    Default Re: Past tense and present perfect tenses

    I'd use this sentence if the morning is still going on. Because present perfect refers to recent past.

    I have had my breakfast at 6:30 today. ( in this case I use the present perfect because I consider that the day (today) is still going on in spite of the action "having breakfast" be done. )

    I'd use this sentence in the afternoon or at night.

    I had my breakfast at 6:30 today. ( in this case I use the past tense because the action of having breakfast is finished even though I use "today" to finish the sentence.)

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    Default Re: Past tense and present perfect tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by SYLA SYEG View Post
    In this sentence which is correct: I have had my breakfast at 6:30 today. ( in this case I use the present perfect because I consider that the day (today) is still going on in spite of the action "having breakfast" be done. )
    This is not an indication to use the present perfect.

    Or I had my breakfast at 6:30 today. ( in this case I use the past tense because the action of having breakfast is finished even though I use "today" to finish the sentence.)
    "I have had my breakfast at 6:30" is not grammatical. The present perfect is not used with a specific time reference.
    The time reference is always 'now'; it's understood - that's what makes it a present tense.
    If you had your breakfast at 6.30 today, then now (some time later), you have had your breakfast.
    The present perfect does not refer to the recent past. It refers primarily to now.
    You can use adverbs that do not nominate a specific time, eg. just, already.
    I've just/already had my breakfast - OK.
    But you cannot say: I've had my breakfast an hour ago/at 6.30.

    The clue to understanding the present perfect tense is recognising that it primarily indicates the present/current state of something, regardless of when it happened.



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    Default Re: Past tense and present perfect tenses

    I had my breakfast today at 6 a.m.
    I just had my breakfast.

    Simple past tense, always simpler.

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    Default Re: Past tense and present perfect tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    "[I]
    The present perfect does not refer to the recent past. It refers primarily to now.
    Present Perfect is one of the most difficult tenses because we donít use it in Spanish.

    Here are some extracts taken from books we use to learn English.

    ďUse the present perfect to talk about past experiences when you donít say exactly when they happened.Ē
    Iíve been to London. My brother has worked abroad.

    ďUse present perfect to talk about the present result of a past activity
    Iíve hurt my arm. Youíve lost weight.

    Thatís why I said it refers to the past. But I forgot the main rule: ďwhen you donít say exactly when they happened.Ē

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    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Past tense and present perfect tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by mara_ce View Post
    Present Perfect is one of the most difficult tenses because we donít use it in Spanish.

    You're not alone. The present perfect doesn't occur in a lot of languages (such as the Portuguese of the OP, I imagine). But that is a reason to spend more time learning exactly what it is - especially if you're going to teach it.


    Here are some extracts taken from books we use to learn English.

    ďUse the present perfect to talk about past experiences when you donít say exactly when they happened.Ē
    Iíve been to London. My brother has worked abroad.

    OK. Some books are clearer than others. As in all matters of grammar (and perhaps discourse in general), you need to try to understand what the authors are attempting to communicate, rather than simply applying everything literally. I know that's not easy.

    Iíve been to London.
    means 'At the present time, the relation between me and 'having been to London' is true/positive. The proposition 'been to London' is perfected, or completed, in relation to you.
    It is not primarily a statement of something that happened (although it implies this), but of what the current relationship is.
    The question: "Have you been to London?" means "what is the current relation between you and 'having been to London'. This relation is perfect/completed in the present whether you went to London yesterday or ten years ago.
    If the relation between a person X and 'having been to London' is False at the present time, we say "X hasn't been to London". Again, this naturally implies that X didn't go to London at any time, but it doesn't primarily mean it.


    ďUse present perfect to talk about the present result of a past activity
    Iíve hurt my arm. Youíve lost weight.
    Iíve hurt my arm. My arm is presently hurt. The time it happened and the conditions under which it happened are not relevant.
    For example, "I can't do my gymnastics class today. I've hurt my arm" Your gym teacher may or may not be interested in the past event; the emphasis is that you presently have a hurt arm.

    Thatís why I said it refers to the past. But I forgot the main rule: ďwhen you donít say exactly when they happened.Ē
    Yes, but the reason you don't say exactly when it happened, or how it happened, or who was there at the time ... is that the past is not in focus.
    Unfortunately, you will come across exceptions which might seem to prove my explanation wrong. But understanding the above (the fundamental basic meaning of the present perfect) should make these exceptions understandable.
    R.

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    Offroad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Past tense and present perfect tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Present Perfect is one of the most difficult tenses because we don’t use it in Spanish.
    You're not alone. The present perfect doesn't occur in a lot of languages (such as the Portuguese of the OP, I imagine).
    Nope. It does occur in Portuguese. I am surprised it doesn't in Spanish, since they are almost the same language.

    I have been to London.
    Eu tenho estado em Londres.

    Have you seen John?
    Tem visto o John?

    But that is a reason to spend more time learning exactly what it is - especially if you're going to teach it.

  8. #8
    mara_ce's Avatar
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    Default Re: Past tense and present perfect tenses

    I am surprised it doesn't in Spanish, since they are almost the same language.

    It exists but we don't use it. We learn by heart many tenses at primary school, then we don't use them. Maybe it is used in some provinces, not where I live.

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    SYLA SYEG is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Past tense and present perfect tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    "I have had my breakfast at 6:30" is not grammatical. The present perfect is not used with a specific time reference.
    The time reference is always 'now'; it's understood - that's what makes it a present tense.
    If you had your breakfast at 6.30 today, then now (some time later), you have had your breakfast.
    The present perfect does not refer to the recent past. It refers primarily to now.
    You can use adverbs that do not nominate a specific time, eg. just, already.
    I've just/already had my breakfast - OK.
    But you cannot say: I've had my breakfast an hour ago/at 6.30.

    The clue to understanding the present perfect tense is recognising that it primarily indicates the present/current state of something, regardless of when it happened.

    Thanks for the explanation. Now it seems easier for me. In fact this tense does not exist in Portuguese. We do not mean that way. Just to inform: Portuguese is NOT the same as Spanish. They are quite different languages.

  10. #10
    Offroad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Past tense and present perfect tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by SYLA SYEG View Post
    In fact this tense does not exist in Portuguese. We do not mean that way.
    Hmm... Maybe not, I am really bad at grammar. But... you could school me.

    Eu tenho visto a Maria no colťgio.

    Como se classifica essa estrutura?

    Just to inform: Portuguese is NOT the same as Spanish. They are quite different languages.
    Now I have to disagree, they are very similar, any native of Portuguese can understand a text in Spanish or even a person talking if she/he talks deliberately.

    When it comes to English...haha.

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