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  1. Unregistered
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    #1

    since and present perfect vs past simple

    Hello,
    I have recently come across this transformation with a 6-word limit:

    I beat John ten years ago. / beaten

    It's ........................................... John.

    Now, the key says that the correct transformation is as follows:

    It's ten years since I have beaten John.

    My question is: how is it possible to use present perfect "have beaten" in the transformed sentence?
    It really scares me as, being a teacher, I would naturally transform it like this:

    It's ten years since I beat John.

    Please help with explanation.


    • Join Date: Feb 2008
    • Posts: 484
    #2

    Re: since and present perfect vs past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    Hello,
    I have recently come across this transformation with a 6-word limit:

    I beat John ten years ago. / beaten

    It's ........................................... John.

    Now, the key says that the correct transformation is as follows:

    It's ten years since I have beaten John.

    My question is: how is it possible to use present perfect "have beaten" in the transformed sentence?
    It really scares me as, being a teacher, I would naturally transform it like this:

    It's ten years since I beat John.

    Please help with explanation.
    Apparently both forms are acceptable. Surprisingly, Thomson and Martinet* make this remark:

    "We can say:
    It is three years since I (last) saw Bill or
    It is three years since I have seen Bill

    It is two months since Tom (last) smoked a cigarette or
    It is two months since Tom has smoked a cigarette."

    (*A.J.Thomson and A.V. Martinet, “A Practical English Grammar”, Fourth Edition, rubric 188)


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #3

    Re: since and present perfect vs past simple

    Note the use of 'last', which confines it to a point in time, and hence, Simple Past.


    • Join Date: Nov 2008
    • Posts: 3
    #4

    Re: since and present perfect vs past simple

    I would say:

    1.It has been ten years since I (last) beat John.
    or
    2.It's been ten years since I (last) beat John.

    or another example with a different meaning:
    3.I have beaten John for ten years.

    The third implying I continually beat John. This started in 1998 (ten years ago)

    Take in mind that grammar and teacher's books can often have bad editors that don't properly proof read all excercises and/or examples.

    Also I wouldn't say:
    "I can't get into my house because I have lost my keys." (from the printout on present perfect on this site)
    but rather:
    "I can't get back into my house because I lost my keys."

    The former being British English, the latter American English.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409
    #5

    Re: since and present perfect vs past simple

    Both are correct; though I think the most faithful transformation is retaining the simple Past, "...since I beat John."

    'since I have beaten John' would be appropriate if I have continued to have regular matches with John since I beat him 10 years ago, and have not won since.
    So- "It is 10 years since I have beaten John."

    However, the original sentence does not provide any indication that the latter is the case, so...Simple Past Tense is the choice.
    Last edited by David L.; 18-Nov-2008 at 11:05.


    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 1
    #6

    Re: since and present perfect vs past simple

    Personally, I think it is totally weird to use "have beaten" in this sentence, and I'm not sure why it's acceptable to so many.

    I would only say "It has been 10 years since I beat John"

    I would use "has been" because we're talking about the duration of time starting 10 years in the past and continuing up until now.
    I would use past simple tense to describe the act of "beating John" since we are focusing on a particular event that ENDED at a particular time in the past (10 years ago).

    I suppose I could also kind of rationalize saying "It IS 10 years since I beat John" since by saying "10 years" you could be talking about the particular marker of present time, meaning: "Today, it is the tenth year"

    I encountered similar transformations in the FCE textbook that I thought were a little strange.

    *thinking some more...*

    *I guess you could say that present perfect is acceptable to use as long as the context of this past action is somehow relevant to what's going on now. For example: "It has been 10 years since I have beaten John, but I plan to win today." In this case, you're not really stressing the time you beat John 10 years ago in the past (it's finished), but more importantly the fact that you HAVE DONE IT before (you completed the action/you had the experience...it doesn't really matter when it happened).
    This could be another possible explanation...maybe? haha. I'm just trying to make sense of it.
    Last edited by kseko; 06-Jan-2009 at 02:39. Reason: additionally...


    • Join Date: Feb 2008
    • Posts: 484
    #7

    Re: since and present perfect vs past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by kseko View Post
    Personally, I think it is totally weird to use "have beaten" in this sentence, and I'm not sure why it's acceptable to so many.

    I would only say "It has been 10 years since I beat John"

    I would use "has been" because we're talking about the duration of time starting 10 years in the past and continuing up until now.
    I would use past simple tense to describe the act of "beating John" since we are focusing on a particular event that ENDED at a particular time in the past (10 years ago). .
    Despite the grammarian I quoted higher up, I agree with you that it sounds totally weird to use have beaten in this sentence.

    I think the present perfect is acceptable in some contexts only but not in others. So what determines the distinction? When you say "we are focusing on a particular event" I think that gives us a clue. (I'm not sure I agree with you though when you continue by saying "... that ENDED at a particular time in the past" : because "it is X months/years since..." necessarily implies that something ended at a particular time in the past.)

    So, prompted by the clue that you give, I think maybe the acceptability of the present perfect implies a repetitive event in the past. The following examples, which I quote again, both refer to repetitive events (the inclusion of "last" in the simple past examples confirms this.)

    It is three years since I (last) saw Bill or
    It is three years since I have seen Bill

    It is two months since Tom (last) smoked a cigarette or
    It is two months since Tom has smoked a cigarette."

    However, if we are talking about a one-off event (beating John), the use of the present perfect is not acceptable.

    What do you think?

    I see you've just joined this forum. I do hope our failure to comment promptly on your last posting hasn't caused you to give up on us? Personally, I've been away and just got back; plus, your question was really challenging and called for a lot of thinking! Anyway, welcome!

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