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  1. #1
    englishhobby's Avatar
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    I've read the book, but I didn't understand it.

    I've read the book, but I didn't understand it. - Can this sentence be used to talk about a book you read, say, 20 years ago?
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  2. #2
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    Re: I've read the book, but I didn't understand it.

    No. Use the past simple for that.

  3. #3
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    Re: I've read the book, but I didn't understand it.

    That's confusing for me. I thought when you talk about experience, it doesn't matter how long ago the action happened. For example, as far as I know, 'I've been to Paris' works even if you visited Paris 20 years ago. Or it doesn't?

    And can we really use the past simple to talk about experience in the past? Can we say 'I was in Paris, but I didn't like it' with the meaning of experience, when the time is not mentioned or implied? I've always thought we can't...

    So 'I've been to Paris, but I didn't like it' is also ungrammatical?
    Last edited by englishhobby; 25-Jun-2017 at 10:20.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  4. #4
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    Re: I've read the book, but I didn't understand it.

    You're right. In that case, you might say "Yes, I've read that book. I (first) read it 20 years ago, but I (still) don't understand it."
    The part in blue is about the experience. The rest is details about that experience.

  5. #5
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    Re: I've read the book, but I didn't understand it.

    And what about that one: 'I've been to Paris (a few times), but I didn't like it (during all those visits).'?
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  6. #6
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    Re: I've read the book, but I didn't understand it.

    'I've been to Paris, but I didn't like it.' is OK.
    “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

    — Arthur Schopenhauer

  7. #7
    englishhobby's Avatar
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    Re: I've read the book, but I didn't understand it.

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    'I've been to Paris, but I didn't like it.' is OK.
    And why can't I use the same structure with the book instead of Paris?
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  8. #8
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    Re: I've read the book, but I didn't understand it.

    In my opinion, you can.
    “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

    — Arthur Schopenhauer

  9. #9
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    Re: I've read the book, but I didn't understand it.

    I agree that the present perfect is fine in your original example. It wouldn't be if you actually said "20 years ago".

    I've read that book but I didn't understand it. (It doesn't matter when you read it.)
    I read that book but I didn't understand it. (It doesn't matter when you read it.)
    I read that book 20 years ago but I didn't understand it. (Specifying the time period means you need the past simple.)
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  10. #10
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    Re: I've read the book, but I didn't understand it.

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I've read that book but I didn't understand it. (It doesn't matter when you read it.)
    I read that book but I didn't understand it. (It doesn't matter when you read it.)
    If these two sentences mean the same ('I did it in the past"), does that mean that some day English will not need the present perfect tense at all (at least to talk about experience)? It means experience when used in the past simple just as well.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

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