Student or Learner
We're arguing about which tense to use in the following sentence:
_____ you ____ the 9 o'clock news? (suppose it is half past ten now)
I thought we could only ask 'Did you hear the 9 o'clock news?' just because of the time '9 o'clock'.
But someone else said we could use the past simple and could also say 'Have you heard the 9 o'clock news?' And still another said if we used 'listen to' instead of 'hear', then both ways were all right.
Could I ask native English teachers to help me with this question?
Thank you very much.
Last edited by joham; 03-Jan-2008 at 14:10. Reason: something added.
In other contexts there is a nice difference: We use the present perfect when the finished action is relevant to the present. For example: If I'm working on the computer and my wife comes in and says "I've bought some cheese", I'll stop what I'm doing in anticipation of her relating this finished action to the present ("... and I want you to try it" or "... and now I'm going to make sandwiches", etc.). In fact, if she doesn't add anything else, after a second or two I'm likely to ask her "And?" or "So?".
On the other hand, if she uses the simple past: "I bought some cheese", I'll probably just say "Fine" and continue with what I'm doing.
In short, in many cases present perfect describes past actions that are somehow relevant to the present, whereas with simple past there isn't necessarily this connection. Remembering of course that AmE often doesn't honor this distinciton.
According to your explanation, might I draw the conclusion that we could say "What has happened at yesterday's meeting?" if we want to focus the result that still exists now?
Thank you very much in advance.
You can say "Have you heard the 9 o'clock news?" but you can't say «Have you heard the news at nine o'clock?». Note that the former is the same as "Are you aware [present] of what was [simple past] on the 9 o'clock news?". So the sentence has present meaning. You can't say «What has been on the nine o'clock news?».
For me, neither can it be «Are you aware of what has been on the 9 o'clock news», though an Englishman might find this acceptable.
You can't say «What has happened at yesterday's meeting?» because "yesterday" is definitely not in the present time frame. You can say "Have you heard [present perfect] what happened [simple past] at yesterday's meeting?"
So, in conclusion, remember that you generally can't use present perfect when there is definite reference to a finished action, even when that finished action has relevance in the present. You can use present perfect sometimes when referring to an indefinite finished action that has relevance in the present (I've bought some cheese, John has had an accident, We've finished our homework, etc.).
But you can't conjoin two finished indefinite actions even if separately they would have relevance in the present. You can't say «I've gone shopping and then have come here to show you my new dress». You can say: "I've gone shopping" or "I have come here to show you my new dress".
Isn't English wonderful?
Thank you very very much for the great trouble you've taken to answer my question! I'm a lot clearer now. Might I ask another question:
Could we say 'I've bought this dress for you at/ from Harrods?'
This time I 'm metioning the place where the 'buying' action took place, rather than the time when the 'buying' action took place. Then could we still use the present perfect if we focus on the relevence to the present?
Last edited by joham; 04-Jan-2008 at 23:41. Reason: wrongly wording.