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    #1

    present perfect tense: not easy...

    Hello,

    Understanding present perfect tense is not easy for me,
    so I'd appreciate some help.

    I have three questions.

    1. If someone says "I have lived in China," does it imply that the person
    still lives in China?
    If the sentence had "~for two years" or "~since 1990," it would be clear.
    But without any time phrase, I get confused.

    2. What's the difference in meaning between
    "I have finished the work" and "I finished the work"?

    3. Is it correct that present perfect tense is always related to the present?
    Last edited by forinfo; 09-Nov-2011 at 05:15.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: present perfect tense: not easy...

    Quote Originally Posted by forinfo View Post
    Hello,

    Understanding present perfect tense is not easy for me,
    so I'd appreciate some help.

    I have three questions.

    1. If someone says "I have lived in China," does it imply that the person still lives in China?
    No.

    If the sentence had "~for two years" or "~since 1990," it would be clear.
    But without any time phrase, I get confused.
    But people would generally not use that sentence without a time phrase.

    2. What's the difference in meaning between
    "I have finished the work" and "I finished the work"?
    It depends. They mean the same but are used differently. It's a huge topic, best explained in grammar books or grammar webpages.
    3. Is it correct that present perfect tense is always related to the present?
    Yes. It is about something that, in the present, has been completed.
    The present perfect tense does take some getting used too. The best way of learning it is to read several competent grammar books about it, then read good books and articles by native speakers, and note when this tense is used, and ask youself why.

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    #3

    Re: present perfect tense: not easy...

    Quote Originally Posted by forinfo View Post
    2. What's the difference in meaning between
    "I have finished the work" and "I finished the work"?
    One example of when we could use the present perfect is if you are informing someone, so that the completion of the work is relevant now. Imagine that they're waiting for the work, and you phone them to tell them it's ready- as the completion is very relevant because they are waiting, then the present perfect works better IMO.

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    #4

    Re: present perfect tense: not easy...

    You have a very valid concern in sentence 1.

    "I have lived in China." Does not imply anything beyond the fact that a person lived in China at one point. Context tends to provide the answer. If we were talking in a country other than China, it would be safe to assume that I don't currently live in China. But it's also possible to say "I have lived in China for the past ten years," which could imply that I still live in China.

    When present perfect expresses a change that continues, it does so a bit more explicitly:
    I have learned how to ride a bike. (One is not likely to forget how to ride a bike, thus the action continues.)



    For sentence 2, consider "I have finished working" to be "I have [just] finished working." By using have in this way, it expresses more immediacy than "I have finished working."

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    #5

    Re: present perfect tense: not easy...

    Quote Originally Posted by jahildebrandt View Post
    "I have lived in China." Does not imply anything beyond the fact that a person lived in China at one point. Context tends to provide the answer. If we were talking in a country other than China, it would be safe to assume that I don't currently live in China.
    It wouldn't make much sense either to say I have lived in China in China without adding something like the length of time.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: present perfect tense: not easy...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    It wouldn't make much sense either to say I have lived in China in China without adding something like the length of time.
    Well, it could.
    A: If you'd ever lived in China, you'd know I what I was talking about.
    B: I have lived in China.

    However, yes, this is the point I was making when I said, But people would generally not use that sentence without a time phrase.


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    #7

    Re: present perfect tense: not easy...

    I'm grateful for all the replies I've received. They encourage me to study more about
    the English grammatical concepts that are difficult for me to grasp. Thank you.

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    #8

    Re: present perfect tense: not easy...

    Bear in mind that there are some differences in usage between AmE and BrE. For example, BrE tends to favour the present perfect for a very recent past event that may be considered relevant to the present; AmE favours the past simple - Have you seen/ Did you see Peter yet? Despite what you may read in some books, this difference is not really important; we understand each other with no problems.

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