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  1. #1
    GeneD is offline Senior Member
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    they have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded

    This mountain has never been climbed by anyone. Several mountaineers have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded. The climb is extremely difficult and many people have died trying to reach the summit.

    Why is the present perfect used in the second and the third sentences? The mountaineers tried to reach the summit in the past, and at the time of speaking they weren't alive. Is the following (my version) possible? And if so, what are the differencies in meaning?

    This mountain has never been climbed by anyone. Several mountaineers tried to reach the top, but nobody ever succeeded. The climb is extremely difficult and many people have died trying to reach the summit.

    Well, I haven't changed the third sentence for some reason. I'm not sure, honestly, about this sentence even more. It's about the present, and at the same time... they died in the past, maybe many years ago. I'm confused, really...

  2. #2
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
    Matthew Wai is offline VIP Member
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    Re: they have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded

    Over the years, several mountaineers have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded.

    I think the present perfect is used because it refers to a period from the past to the present, i.e. 'over the years'.
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  3. #3
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: they have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded

    The second version of the passage doesn't work. In the writer's time-frame, the current condition is that all of the actions are in the past. The present perfect expresses this nuance.
    I am not a teacher.

  4. #4
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Re: they have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded

    To me, the present perfect implies that other people are going to come along and try. The past tense suggests everybody has given up for ever.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: they have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded

    Until someone makes it to the top, the process is unfinished. The present perfect suggests this. I'd only use the past if people had given up trying.

  6. #6
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    teechar is offline Moderator
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    Re: they have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded

    or if the mountain doesn't exist any more.

  7. #7
    GeneD is offline Senior Member
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    Re: they have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded

    Thank you all for your explanations. I think I understand why the present perfect is used there. But what a beautifully tricky exercise that was for me! Do you know where I could find something similar on the present perfect vs past simple: some book or any exercises online, maybe?
    Last edited by GeneD; 23-Sep-2017 at 20:59. Reason: errors

  8. #8
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: they have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneD View Post
    Thank you all for your explanations. I think I've understood why there the present perfect is used. But what a beautifully tricky exercise that was for me! Do you know where I could find something similar on the present perfect vs past simple: some book or any exercises online, maybe?
    I don't know where to find more exercises but I can tell you that you should have used the present in your second sentence.
    I am not a teacher.

  9. #9
    GeneD is offline Senior Member
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    Re: they have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    I don't know where to find more exercises but I can tell you that you should have used the present in your second sentence.
    You probably meant in the third: what a beautifully tricky exercise that was for me. I should have said has been, obviously.

  10. #10
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    emsr2d2 is online now Moderator
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    Re: they have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever succeeded

    No. GS meant exactly what he/she said. Your second sentence should have been "Now I understand why the present perfect is used there". Note the correct position of the word "there" in that sentence.

    The use of "was" in the third sentence was correct. Also, if you had followed GeneD's advice for your third sentence, you should have changed it to "What a beautifully tricky sentence that is for me" - the advice was to use the present, not the present perfect.
    Last edited by teechar; 24-Sep-2017 at 11:57. Reason: typo
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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