Student or Learner
I know that we usually use the present perfect if we want to say that we have done something for a period of time up to now . For instance:
"Since 2007, I've gone to Zakopane for the skiing every year. OR Since 2007, I've been going to Zakopane for the skiing every year."
L. G. Alexander, in Longman English Grammar, says: "The present perfect always suggests a relationship between present time and past time."
and "We use the simple present to refer to events, actions or situations which are true in the present period of time and which, for all we know, may continue indefinitely."
Imagine I want to say that I do some activity regularly (every year) and I want to inform about the beginning of this activity in the same sentence, because I know I will continue doing this activity in the years to come. Would it be wrong to say :
"Since 2007, I go to Zakopane for the skiing every year."
But I've seen examples such as:
Since the divorce, I keep thinking about her.
Since then, I keep wondering if I did the right thing.
1824 The Love-Charm Since then I keep thinking and thinking, what can these words mean?
Since we broke up, I can't stop thinking about her.
(examples in Google Books):
1867 Since then I keep my cows in the stable from the day they are put up until the day I let them out on grass
1916 Since then I keep a small bottle of alcohol on my kitchen shelf.
2002 Since then, I keep the barrel on top of the hot-water heater.
2011 Since then, I keep my mouth shut.
1. "Since I was robbed, I go to bed every night with a shotgun." Correct.
2. "Since I developed cancer, I go on holidays whenever I can." Correct
3. "Since 2007, I go to Zakopane every year." Wrong.
Why 3. is wrong and 1 and 2 are right, I will tell you tomorrow, if no one has explained it beforehand. (It's getting late here, and I'm too tired to give a convincing explanation. But 3. is wrong.)
I would really like to have an explanation.
Last edited by 5jj; 23-Jan-2012 at 09:49. Reason: typo
There is no shortage of grammar websites about “since” and the present perfect tense. Mostly, all they do is tell you that “since” clauses are normally used with main clauses in the present perfect. But we already know that, and we know that it’s not invariably true.
Grammar books that I’ve checked don’t help much:
Quirk et al*, in Section 14.26 “The perfective with temporal since-clauses”, gives a long discussion on when various tenses can be used in the main clause where there is a ‘since’ clause. Unfortunately, they does not explain why such tenses are used. The pages are purely descriptive. So, it doesn’t say much more than we could already tell you, ie. that sometimes the perfective form is necessary.
Swan* addresses this in “Since:tenses”
“In sentences refering to since (referring to time), we normally use the present perfect
and past perfect tenses in the main clause.” (p.522). “However, present and past tenses are occasionally found, especially in sentences about changes.”:
‘Since last Saturday I can’t stop thinking about you.’
‘You’re looking much better since your operation’
‘It’s a long time since the last meeting’
Quirk, et al. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, 1985. (p 1015+)
Swan, Michael, Practical English Usage, 3rd Ed. 2005 (p.522)
I've decided that "Since 2007" is unique in the examples you've given because it is purely temporal.
In the two correct sentences I gave you:
1. "Since I was robbed, I go to bed every night with a shotgun."
2. "Since I developed cancer, I go on holidays whenever I can."
the since clause can be be seen to also have an element of "since" as "because"
1. "Because I was robbed, I go to bed every night with a shotgun."
2. "Because I have developed cancer, I go on holidays whenever I can."
And it is not coincidental that "since" acts as both a temporal marker and as a reason marker, because the reason occurred at the time given - in fact the reason is expressed as a temporal marker.
A: "When did you start taking a shotgun to bed?"
B: "When I was robbed". The answer is both temporal and causal.
In sentence 3, "Since 2007 ..." has no causal component.
Here's a similar phrase that does have a causal component, and can be (and has been) used with the simple present.
"Since 9/11/2001, I am afraid of tall buildings." And the only difference between this and sentence 3, is that this has element of causation.
And if you look at all your other examples, none of the "since" clauses has a purely temporal meaning. They all include a causative component.
So, the provisional rule from this is that, if the "since" clause/phrase is purely temporal, you use the present perfect tense.
Now that was a useful explanation.
I could not think of a convincing answer, allthewayanime, and I suspect that others may have been in a similar situation. It is sometimes worth waiting for the right person to come along.
Thank you so much for replying , I am really grateful to you.