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Thread: present perfect

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    present perfect


    Have you ever picked up any English from TV or songs?

    --how would you explain that the present perfect is the correct tense here instead of the past simple, i.e., Did you ever pick up any English from TV or songs?

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    Re: present perfect

    Present Perfect tense gives the meaning, over the period from some moment in the past (say, from the very first time you heard a song on TV) right up to right now, this moment.

    You may be better able to see the difference in meaning if I change your next sentence to:
    Did you pick up any souvenirs while you were in China?

    You went to China. But as soon as you left China (and the trip could have been a year or more ago), the time period when you could have picked up souvenirs ended. You have made it a completed, contained past experience - it does not extend up to this moment.

    In your actual sentence, Did you ever pick up any English from TV or songs?
    the time/opportunity to do this 'picking up any English' has ended, and this 'ending' is placed in the past.
    Compare: "While you were stationed in Germany just after the War, granddad, did you pick up any German swear words?" - the 'ending' occurred over 50 years ago!
    Present Perfect implies right up to this very moment.
    "Did you' means there is a gap between when the opportunity/learning experience ended, and the current moment.

    So - Present Perfect tense is appropriate if (as we assume) the person is still listening to English language TV and songs.
    The 'did you' is appropriate is the 'listening to English language TV' is not being done any more.
    Conversely, Present Perfect tense would not be appropriate in the sentence about the trip to China, or the 'stationed in Germany' sentence.
    Last edited by David L.; 13-Aug-2008 at 08:11.

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