Present Perfect & the Simple Past: a question for studen

Status
Not open for further replies.

Steven D

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Member Type
English Teacher
This is a question for English language learners (ELL).


1. Did you speak to Joe today?

2. Have you spoken to Joe today?


Can you say why a speaker would say either one of these sentences?

Why would someone say number 1?

Why would someone say number 2?

Can you provide a context for the questions?
 

Francois

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
Both work. I would use the first if there is no opportunity to speak to Joe anymore (the day is over, or we know he will be unavailable etc.), otherwise I would use the second.

-- Did you speak to Joe today?
-- No, I was too busy.
-- Come on, he will be on business trip for two weeks, and you couldn't find a minute to clear up that point!

-- Have you spoken to Joe today?
-- Not yet, I'll catch him this afternoon first thing.

FRC
 

Steven D

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Member Type
English Teacher
Both work. I would use the first if there is no opportunity to speak to Joe anymore (the day is over, or we know he will be unavailable etc.), otherwise I would use the second. <<

That's the key.

- good examples too.

I'll be back to this thread later.

Maybe we can think of an example or a context in which both the present perfect and the simple past work?


:idea: :?: :D :shock:

Until then..........
 

Casiopea

VIP Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Member Type
Other
X Mode said:
Maybe we can think of some examples in which both the present perfect and the simple past work?

:idea: :?: :D :shock:

What are your thoughts on question formation?

Have you eaten yet?
Did you eat yet?

Have you seen it yet?
Did you see it yet?

All the best, :D
 

Steven D

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Member Type
English Teacher
Casiopea said:
X Mode said:
Maybe we can think of some examples in which both the present perfect and the simple past work?

:idea: :?: :D :shock:

What are your thoughts on question formation?

Have you eaten yet?
Did you eat yet?

Have you seen it yet?
Did you see it yet?

All the best, :D


Sometimes "yet" is used with the simple past in AE. And that's okay with me. The type of questions you posted are rather common language here.

I think Murphy gives "yet" with the simple past the "okay" in Grammar in Use, if I remember correctly. That would be the AE version, of course.

I would avoid it for certain types of formal or serious writing, however.

:D
 

Casiopea

VIP Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Member Type
Other
X Mode said:
Sometimes "yet" is used with the simple past in AE. And that's okay with me. The type of questions you posted are rather common language here.

I think Murphy gives "yet" with the simple past the "okay" in Grammar in Use, if I remember correctly. That would be the AE version, of course.

I would avoid for certain types of formal or serious writing, however.

:D

Thanks. :D

As for whether you feel they (i.e., the questions Have/Did) differ in meaning, what are your thoughts? :D
 

Steven D

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Member Type
English Teacher
As for whether you feel they (i.e., the questions Have/Did) differ in meaning, what are your thoughts? <<<<

The grammatical form in this case could indicate a difference in meaning, but in such a context where the simple past is used with "yet", I don't think there would be any intended difference in meaning on the part of the speaker.

I would just say that, as usual, the simple past indicates a complete action, while the present perfect indicates "up until now".

Did you eat yet. - emphasis on a completed action

Have you eaten yet - emphasis on "at any time up until now" starting from a time when one would be expected to eat

They're really the same.

Despite how "yet" is defined, I have no problem with it being used with the simple past. Perhaps it's time to expand the definition of "yet" in American English?
 

Casiopea

VIP Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Member Type
Other
X Mode said:
1. Did you eat yet. - emphasis on a completed action

2. Have you eaten yet - emphasis on "at any time up until now" starting from a time when one would be expected to eat

They're really the same.

Thanks. :D

I agree with your definitions, but I'm a bit confused by 'really the same'. :oops: Given that Have...eaten is aspectual and Did...eat tense, how are 1. and 2. 'really the same'? That is, if the speaker knows (i.e., intuitively/innately) that a difference exists between the two (e.g., use "Have you eaten? when you don't know when one is expected to eat and use "Did you eat?" when you do know when one is expected to eat), how are they 'really the same'?

Just my thoughts.

All the best, :D
 

Steven D

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Member Type
English Teacher
Casiopea said:
X Mode said:
1. Did you eat yet. - emphasis on a completed action

2. Have you eaten yet - emphasis on "at any time up until now" starting from a time when one would be expected to eat

They're really the same.

Thanks. :D

I agree with your definitions, but I'm a bit confused by 'really the same'. :oops: Given that Have...eaten is aspectual and Did...eat tense, how are 1. and 2. 'really the same'? That is, if the speaker knows (i.e., intuitively/innately) that a difference exists between the two (e.g., use "Have you eaten? when you don't know when one is expected to eat and use "Did you eat?" when you do know when one is expected to eat), how are they 'really the same'?

Just my thoughts.

All the best, :D

One is aspectual yes. However, by asking this question and answering this question we find out whether or not someone ate or did not eat.

I have eaten, yes. I ate, yes. In this context both are completed actions. The "up until now" meaning of the present perfect is rather insignificant in this particular context - in this particular case.

To me, that it is aspectual, I believe is, irrelavant. The same information is communicated. The practical meaning is the same - in this case.

Personally, I try not to analyze too much when it comes to grammar. I simply prefer to understand and be able to explain it.

To me, it's pretty simple. On occasion AE might use the simple present where BE would always use the present perfect. It can happen here and there, though not as often as some would like to believe it does - as I see it.

:D 8) :D 8) :shock:
 

Steven D

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Member Type
English Teacher
(e.g., use "Have you eaten? when you don't know when one is expected to eat and use "Did you eat?" when you do know when one is expected to eat), how are they 'really the same'? <<

I don't believe that one would know when one is expected to eat simply by using the simple past.

I also believe it's possible to know when one is expected to eat by using the present perfect.

I don't believe the verb system is that restrictive.

:) :-D ;-)
 

Casiopea

VIP Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Member Type
Other
Excellent topic. :up:

X Mode said:
One is aspectual yes. However, by asking this question and answering this question we find out whether or not someone ate or did not eat. I have eaten, yes. I ate, yes. In this context both are completed actions.

So really the same in the sense that both produce the expected response (i.e., If one ate/has eaten or not), right? OK. I get it. :D Thanks. 8)

X Mode said:
The "up until now" meaning of the present perfect is rather insignificant in this particular context - in this particular case.

What if, 'up until now' has nothing to do really with why speakers choose "Have you eaten? over "Did you eat?"? In comparison with how aspect works in other languages, including English, we find that speaker choice has more to do with culture, specifically, and in the case at hand, how we perceive the person to whom we're asking the question:

Son: Have you eaten?
Grandmother: Yes, I have.

In various cultures throughout the world, asking someone higher in status than yourself a direct question, especially if it's personal information--which in the history of the English language could refer to anything to do with one's daily habits (i.e., eating, and whathaveyou)--can be considered rather forward. By using "Have you eaten?", an aspect that doesn't relate to specific time, one allows the other party to decide if s/he wants her/his personal business known or unknown, for example,

Tense:
I ate expresses a known time, one privy to both speakers.

Aspect:
I have eaten expresses an unknown time, one privy only to the other party.

Now that's not to say every native English speaker today uses "Have you eaten?" as a polite form of questioning, but the majority of speakers do in fact use it in a way that's related to its history: when they want to side-step the When? and focus on the Event itself. Using "Have you eaten or not?" is for some speakers a semantic short-hand for "No specifics, please (i.e., the implied time or day). No added details, please. Just the facts, please." :D

Even though some speakers say it doesn't matter which one you use because you'll still get the desired result,

Have you eaten? (Time is not implied; Event is in focus)
Did you eat? (Time is implied, but not stated; Event is in focus)

"Have you Eaten?" and "Did you eat?" are similar in that they gain the desired response, but they are different in the asking: speakers choose "Have...eaten? over "Did...eat?" because (a) it's ingrained in the culture as a polite form of questioning and/or (b) it's a speedy way of focusing on the Event, the gist, the facts and nothing but. With "Did you eat?" specific Time is implied, which, in comparison with "Have you eaten?", is too much information.

X Mode said:
To me, that it is aspectual, I believe is, irrelavant. The same information is communicated. The practical meaning is the same - in this case.

Do you still believe that, now? :oops:

Personally, I try not to analyze too much when it comes to grammar. I simply prefer to understand and be able to explain it.

I understand what you mean. :D 8) :up:

Excellent topic!

All the best, :D
 

Steven D

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Member Type
English Teacher
Hi Casio,

I understand, yes, how the present perfect can sound more formal. I see what you mean. I simply was not taking that into account.

I see what you mean by comparing the simple past with the present perfect in the way that you did.

However, the idea just didn't occur to me. I can, however, easily take note that the present perfect would be used in circumstances which might be considered more formal as you have shown. However, I wouldn't think that it has to be that way all the time.

I personally don't know why I would want to be careful about how I ask someone about "eating lunch".

Have you eaten? - Yes, less direct. I see what you mean.

Did you eat? - Yes, more direct. I see what you mean.

I'm not so sure that many speakers would make a decision to use one or the other based on any sort of social deference, however.

Know what I mean?

:) :)
 

Steven D

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Member Type
English Teacher
I'm not so sure that many speakers would make a decision to use one or the other based on any sort of social deference, however. <<

Some would, perhaps. It would depend.

Yes, perhaps.

I don't think about it to much though.

I'm not the socially deferential type.

Perhaps I could be, but not typically. It would depend.

:egalitarian:
 

Casiopea

VIP Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Member Type
Other
X Mode said:
I personally don't know why I would want to be careful about how I ask someone about "eating lunch".

:lol: :lol: Hehe :lol: :lol:

X Mode said:
I'm not so sure that many speakers would make a decision to use one or the other based on any sort of social deference, however. Know what I mean? :) :)

Yes :up:, and, I'm not as sure about the many. :D
 

Steven D

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Member Type
English Teacher
Casiopea said:
X Mode said:
I personally don't know why I would want to be careful about how I ask someone about "eating lunch".

:lol: :lol: Hehe :lol: :lol:

X Mode said:
I'm not so sure that many speakers would make a decision to use one or the other based on any sort of social deference, however. Know what I mean? :) :)

Yes :up:, and, I'm not as sure about the many. :D

:D :idea: 8) :up:
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top