past and present confusion

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Aug 15, 2008
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Student or Learner
Dear teachers,
I have been reading a book. There is a part where the writer was talking about his child-hood’s life. But some of the tenses in one of the paragraph as below confused me:
The life of Malays in Kelatan was normal; there was entertainment and social mixing. I have gone with adults to Biarritz Park (the same name as Biarritz in France) to watch movies, mak yong as well as to watch men using coupons to have dances with female dancers. There were even Malays drinking stout. That was life in Kelatan then, the period of ignorance, according to some, that is. But to me, there was the age where Malays were poor but lived like P.Ramlee, free and unpretentious.
1. “I have gone with adults….” Why the writer used “have” instead of “had” ?After all, he was talking about the past, wasn’t he?
2. “There was life in Kelatan……., that is”Why the the end of this sentence , the writer used “is”?
Thanks for any explanation it may help.


Staff member
Nov 13, 2002
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British English
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1 I think the past tense (went) would work better, but assume that the present perfect is used because he could go there again, though the rest of the piece suggests that times have changed and his childhood has ended.
2 The period of time is past but the use of 'that is' is correct because the people are calling it the period of ignorance now and not in the past.
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