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    • Join Date: Dec 2005
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    #1

    Preterit vs present perfect

    Hello,

    Could I ask you if you think that the following sentence is acceptable:

    ‘Thanks to their discoveries in genetics, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine. How lucky they are!’

    I am asking this because I am slightly puzzled by a translation exercise in which pupils were expected to produce the sentence, ‘Thanks to their discoveries in genetics, they have been awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine. How lucky they are!’

    Whereas I agree that the use of the present perfect in the first part of the sentence is logical (the second part of the utterance makes it clear that the utterer focuses on the present consequences of the scientists’ receiving the Nobel prize of medicine (How lucky they are!)), my impression was that a preterit form would not necessarily been out of place (they were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine) as, after all, what is considered here can also be envisaged as the present consequences of an action which took place at one definite moment in the past.

    Many thanks in advance for whatever help you could provide me with.

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    #2

    Re: Preterit vs present perfect

    If it's referring to this year's winners at this time, I would struggle to accept the use of the past there, even though your argument about the definite moment in the past makes perfect sense, but it clashes with the present tense in the following sentence for me.
    Were they expected to translate this sentence alone or was there more context? If it is a stand-alone sentence, then I would accept it, because you could use this about people who won five years ago, still finding them fortunate.


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    #3

    Re: Preterit vs present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    If it's referring to this year's winners at this time, I would struggle to accept the use of the past there, even though your argument about the definite moment in the past makes perfect sense, but it clashes with the present tense in the following sentence for me.
    Were they expected to translate this sentence alone or was there more context? If it is a stand-alone sentence, then I would accept it, because you could use this about people who won five years ago, still finding them fortunate.
    It was indeed a stand-alone sentence, and that is why I was loathe to take away marks from those students who used a preterit from.

    I am aware that translating this sort of sentences - totally out of context - can be very artifical.

    Thank you so much for your comments, Tdol. I totally concur with your analysis, but, not being a native speaker, I just wanted to be sure.

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    #4

    Re: Preterit vs present perfect

    I agree witth you; I would not take away marks in that case.

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