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    #1

    Cool present perfect/past simple

    Hello!

    In this case, which tense are we supposed to use?

    Have you seen/ Did you see my new ring?! (I'm showing it)

    Thank you
    W

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    #2

    Re: present perfect/past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Will17 View Post
    Have you seen/ Did you see my new ring?! (I'm showing it)
    In BrE, the present perfect is what we normally expect in such situations. However, if the speaker is wondering whether she showed the listener the ring the last time they met, the past simple is fine.

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    #3

    Re: present perfect/past simple

    I am not a teacher.

    This is the classic case of the colloquial American simple past used where the Brits instinctively use the present perfect. An American is quite likely to say, "Did you see my new ring?!" whatever she means. That doesn't make it right, though. In formal writing, even an American will put the perfect.
    Last edited by Coolfootluke; 23-Feb-2011 at 01:11. Reason: Aaaaaargh! Ta, 5.

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    #4

    Re: present perfect/past simple

    You are catching my typophiliac disease,Coolfootluke. I assume you meant 'simple past' in the first line of your post.

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    #5

    Re: present perfect/past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Coolfootluke View Post
    I am not a teacher.

    This is the classic case of the colloquial American simple past used where the Brits instinctively use the present perfect. An American is quite likely to say, "Did you see my new ring?!" whatever she means. That doesn't make it right, though. Are you saying 'Did you see my new ring?' is wrong? If so, how is it wrong?

    (Did you see)(Have you seen) Tom's new car?

    Sometimes it is the present perfect that is odd or wrong.
    'Have you known that Mary is moving to Brazil?' Would anyone say that?

    along with the following examples of present perfect running wild that were all written by students here and that I recently posted in another thread

    I've been here for the first time.
    I have seen. (to mean 'I see.')
    I have understood. (to mean 'I understand.')
    I have been at home last night.
    Today has been six weeks since they were last seen.
    I have been born in Delhi.


    In formal writing, even an American will put the perfect.
    If you are saying that present perfect is more formal, I won't necessarily disagree with you. Using a more complex tense can be one of the features of more formal writing. But I disagree that 'Did you see my new ring?' is incorrect in some way.
    I use present perfect a lot myself, as all English speakers do.
    Last edited by 2006; 24-Feb-2011 at 01:03.

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    #6

    Re: present perfect/past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    I use present perfect a lot myself, as all English speakers do.
    I am not a teacher.

    Hunh. I wasn't prepared to defend my cockamamie opinions to a native speaker, but I'll do my best. What is wrong with "Did you see my ring?" is that it is in the wrong tense. I agree with Fowler that writing should yield its meaning on close examination, and the plain meaning of that question in the simple past is absurd. Say you had gone to an art museum, and when you got home you told me that you had seen a painting of a house, a painting I know well. I might ask, "Did you see the mongoose in the upstairs window?" That is the import of, "Did you see my ring?" The information desired is not solicited by a question in the simple past, as, conversely, the information I desire would not be solicited by, "Have you seen the mongoose in the upstairs window?"

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    #7

    Re: present perfect/past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Coolfootluke View Post
    I am not a teacher.

    What is wrong with "Did you see my ring?" is that it is in the wrong tense. You didn't say what's wrong with the tense.
    You might not be surprised to hear that I still disagree with you.
    The important thing is that the unjustified badmouthing of simple past tense and the overselling of present perfect tense is directly responsible for the cockamamie sentences, such as the examples I listed, that students come up with.

    Having a student say "I have been born in Delhi." instead of the should-be-obvious 'I was born in Delhi.' illustrates a very very serious problem in the teaching of the two tenses.

    Pity the poor students!
    Last edited by 2006; 24-Feb-2011 at 02:18. Reason: spelling

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    #8

    Re: present perfect/past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    You might not be surprised to hear that I still disagree with you.
    The important thing is that the unjustified badmouthing of simple past tense and the overselling of present perfect tense is directly responsible for the cockamamie sentences, such as the examples I listed, that students come up with.

    Having a student say "I have been born in Delhi." instead of the should-be-obvious 'I was born in Delhi.' illustrates a very very serious problem in the teaching of the two tenses.

    Pity the poor students!
    I am not a teacher.

    Boy, you really hate the present perfect. I think I stated plainly what was wrong with the simple past---the meaning is absurd. Add "yet" to the end, which is really the question, and its wrongness becomes plainer: "Did you see my ring yet?" The simple past denotes an action completed in the past, but "yet" admits of a present seeing. The semantic conflict is irreparable, and it exists even without the "yet". I am not arguing a case, I'm hanging in there explaining the obvious hoping against hope that we are talking at cross purposes.

    "Have you seen my ring yet?" has at least three advantages---it is idiomatic, it avails itself of the tense designed for the purpose, and it asks the right question. Your examples of fractured English have no bearing on this case. You want us to jump out of an imaginary frying pan into a real fire.

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    #9

    Re: present perfect/past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    The important thing is that the unjustified badmouthing of simple past tense and the overselling of present perfect tense is directly responsible for the cockamamie sentences, such as the examples I listed, that students come up with.
    Can you cite references, or give some evidence for that opinion?
    I think a more likely reason for the problem you mention is that the present perfect tense is genuinely difficult for people whose native language has no cognate. But you acknowledge that it is used (where appropriate), so students must learn it.
    There is a small area of overlap in cases such as the current one in which the vast majority of English speakers used the present perfect and find the simple past a poor second choice.

    You ask for grammatical reasons why the simple past shouldn't be as acceptable here as the present perfect. Perhaps there is no grammatical argument. The best argument for teaching the present perfect is that that is what is almost universally used (certain regional dialects in Canada and the US excepted).

    [Fresh material starts here, 2006. You've read all the above before]
    Your one-man campaign for equal rights for the simple past in this context seems to confuse many new teachers who join here. I'm not sure if I've asked you this yet, but do you know of any grammarians, linguists or pedagogues who agree with your opinion that teaching the simple past in this context will lead to fewer mistakes in the examples you've given?
    Last edited by Raymott; 24-Feb-2011 at 05:44.

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    #10

    Re: present perfect/past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Coolfootluke View Post
    I am not a teacher.

    Boy, you really hate the present perfect. Get serious! I expressed no such feeling. But what I do strongly object to is the assertion that only present perfect tense is correct in sentence X when that is not true. Even 5jj, a speaker of British English and one who is fond of present perfect, accepts the use of the simple past in the OP.



    I think I stated plainly what was wrong with the simple past---the meaning is absurd. I don't think you explained anything; you just made the assertion.

    Add "yet" to the end, which is really the question, and its wrongness becomes plainer: irrelevant

    "Did you see my ring yet?"
    The simple past denotes an action completed in the past, So does present perfect in that sentence.


    I'm hanging in there explaining the obvious hoping against hope that we are talking at cross purposes. Again, I don't think you explained anything!

    Your examples of fractured English have no bearing on this case. I totally disagree!
    Tell me why else a student would say something like "I have been born in Delhi."

    It's clearly because (s)he has heard so many times.....
    Simple past is wrong here; only present perfect is correct.
    Simple past is wrong here; only present perfect is correct.
    Simple past is wrong here; only present perfect is correct.....in cases in which that is not true

    It doesn't seem that we will resolve our differences.



    2006

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