present perfect

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Lenka

Senior Member
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May 3, 2004
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My English teacher told me we can use present perfect to say for example:
I have lost my wallet.
I have smashed the window.
and so on...

Is it true? if it is, I can´t understand when we can use this tense. The time when I lost the wallet ended, didn´t it?
 

izabela

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
Hi,

Present Perfect expresses the idea that something happened (or did not happen) at an unspecified time in the past; the exact time is unimportant. The sentences used by your teacher are correct, but you can also say, 'I lost my wallet a week ago' and it will be just fine.

If you say, 'I have smashed the window' it will most likely be understood that it happened very recently and you still work on fixing it up, as opposed to saying, 'I smashed the window' and having nothing to do with it any longer.

Present Perfect is very confusing, if you still do not understand, do not hesitate to ask more questions.

Iza


Lenka said:
My English teacher told me we can use present perfect to say for example:
I have lost my wallet.
I have smashed the window.
and so on...

Is it true? if it is, I can´t understand when we can use this tense. The time when I lost the wallet ended, didn´t it?
 
B

bluejazzshark

Guest
Hi,

The present perfect can be confusing. What you have to bear in mind in choosing between the present perfect and past simple is that actions in the present perfect *have an effect on the present*.

E.g:

I've lost my keys
=I lost my keys, and I don't have them now

I lost my keys
in this example, it is possible that I found they keys *before now*

I've cleaned the car
=It is still clean now

I cleaned the car
= I cleaned the car, and it is possible that it is now dirty.

I've lived here for ten years
= I still live here

I lived here for ten years
= In the past, I lived here, and I probably don't now. (Needs more
information)

I've already eaten
= I ate a while ago, and I'm still not hungry, so I don't want any food now.
(this is different in the USA...)

In his acting career, Bradd Pitt has starred in some great movies
= his career continues to the present day

It is also used to announce news:

"Hey everyone! John's crashed his car"
"The USA has declared war on Iraq"
"Listen up guys! I've won the lottery!"

Is is always used with "ever" and "never" because ever and never refer to all the time in your life up to the present moment:

Have you read "Romeo and Juliet"?
I've never lived in Russia.

With the lives of dead people, we use the past simple because their lives have no connection to the present:

Einstein never realized his dream of the "Unified Field Theory".
Miles Davis had a great influence on contemporary jazz.

Your examples:

I've lost my wallet
= I lost my wallet and I don't have it now.

I've smashed the window
= You presenting news of the window being recently broken.
It is very likely that the window is still broken (i.e. no-one has replaced
it)

If you want, you can say "Hey! I lost my wallet a little while ago and
I still don't have it". But "I've lost my wallet" is more succinct.

Remember that we also have to use the present perfect for life experiences, since past experiences in our lives make us who we are today:

I my life I've sailed through the Amazon, I've climbed several volcanoes and I've learnt 16 different languages... etc.

Here, you're descriptions are not time specific. If you want to be specific about what actually happened, the past simple is used:

In my life, I've sailed through the Amazon, I've climbed several volcanoes.... When I was in the Amazon I went to Manaus and arranged a tour in the forest and we hunted crocodiles....etc...

I hope this clears a few things up for you!

Blue.


Lenka said:
My English teacher told me we can use present perfect to say for example:
I have lost my wallet.
I have smashed the window.
and so on...

Is it true? if it is, I can´t understand when we can use this tense. The time when I lost the wallet ended, didn´t it?
 

Lenka

Senior Member
Joined
May 3, 2004
Member Type
Student or Learner
I must say I thank you really very much you helped me and explained it. Tell the true, I understand it much more now. Thanks! I am so glad there are still some nice people who are willing to give you advice when you need it. But I still have one question. Now, I do understand, why we should say „I have lost my wallet“, but I found this sentense in my textbook, and I don’t understand why they used just past simple instead of present perfect. Here it is:

Her first book came out in 1980. Since then, she has sold more than 5 milloin copies. She went to school of England, and studied English at Oxford University, but she has lived in the country for most of her life. She writes books by hand. She has had the same pen since 1995.

This was only a part of a text in my English textbok. I don’t understand these sentences:

…and studied at Oxfor University,…. – why they used past simple? It is an experience, isn’t it? I think it is… And if it isn‘t how can I know that just this isn’t understood as an experience?

…but she has lived in the country for most of her life. – Why there is present perfect in here? She doesn’t live there now, does she? Could it be understood as an experience?

She writes books by hand. – I understand that present simple sounds better here, but I have got one question: Could I say/write: She has written books by hand. ? Why not? She was perhaps always writing her books in the past and it continues in present. I think I am not very right, but I won’t to know why I can’t use it just here.

It is the same as in sentence: She is a teacher. –why don’t we use „She has been a teacher.“ ?
Could we say: „She has always been a teacher.“ ?

Is this correct? : I have heard that you had bought new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have bouhgt new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes today.
Is this correct? : I have once bought new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have several times bought new clothes.

Well, now I only hope you’ll answer my questions. I understand I perhaps asked too much, but I want to be sure I understand it.
Thank you.
 

izabela

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
Hi Lenka,

…and studied at Oxfor University,…. – why they used past simple? It is an experience, isn’t it? I think it is

She finished studying, she is not studying anymore, the action of studying is done....you have to use past simple.

It is not considered an experience, since the action of studying is very specific in time (she studied for 4 years or so).

…but she has lived in the country for most of her life. – Why there is present perfect in here? She doesn’t live there now, does she? Could it be understood as an experience?

Yes, she does live there now and I know this from the tense that the author of the text is using to express that. There is nothing in the text that would suggest that she does not live there now.

She writes books by hand. – I understand that present simple sounds better here, but I have got one question: Could I say/write: She has written books by hand. ? Why not? She was perhaps always writing her books in the past and it continues in present. I think I am not very right, but I won’t to know why I can’t use it just here.

The sentence is written in present simple, since this tense is used to express habitual or everyday activities. Also, the sentence ends with "by hand", which makes the time unimportant here, but the way she does it, hence present simple is used.

It is the same as in sentence: She is a teacher. –why don’t we use „She has been a teacher.“ ?
Could we say: „She has always been a teacher.“ ?


Yes, you can say that.

Is this correct? : I have heard that you had bought new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have bouhgt new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes today.
Is this correct? : I have once bought new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have several times bought new clothes.


1) correct
2) I bought new clothes today.
3) I once bought new cloths.
4) correct, I have bought new cloths several times (since last week). Put 'several times' at the end.

I hope it helps,
Iza
 

Francois

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
and studied at Oxfor University,…. – why they used past simple? It is an experience, isn’t it? I think it is
There is not much "link" with the present. She studied there, but it's over and it doesn't have much bearings on the present. This really is a narration.

but she has lived in the country for most of her life. – Why there is present perfect in here?
Because the period of time taken into consideration runs up to now. Now there's a link with the present.

Could I say/write: She has written books by hand. ?
You could say that if she did it, say, once or twice. The corresponding question would be "has she ever written a book by hand?"

It is the same as in sentence: She is a teacher. –why don’t we use „She has been a teacher.“ ?
Again, if you say "she's been a teacher", it must have a strong link with the present. For instance, "she's been a teacher for two years" or "she's been a teacher, she must know the answer to this question!".

Could we say: „She has always been a teacher.“ ?
Yes, It looks fine to me.

- Is this correct? : I have heard that you had bought new clothes.
I would say "I have heard that you bought new clothes"
- Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes.
Yes, it can be correct, depending on context.
- Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes today.
Looks fine.
- Is this correct? : I have once bought new clothes.
Looks wrong. Is there a tight link with the present?
- Is this correct? : I have several times bought new clothes
I suppose it can be right, eg. "I have bought (him) new clothes several times, but he keeps on wearing the same old pairs of jeans and dirty tee-shirts".

Am I correct?

FRC
 

izabela

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
Hi,

I have missed one question...

Is this correct? : I have heard that you had bought new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have bouhgt new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes today.
Is this correct? : I have once bought new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have several times bought new clothes.


1) correct
2) I bought new clothes today.
3) I once bought new cloths.
4) correct, I have bought new cloths several times (since last week). Put 'several times' at the end.


1) I have heard that you bought new cloths.

...and then consequently 1) becomes 2) and so on.

Iza
 

blacknomi

Key Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Member Type
Student or Learner
Hi. may I chime in?

(1) What's difference between present perfect and past perfect here?
--I have bought that dress yesterday.
--I had bought that dress last year.
( I was trying to use different adverb of time to differentiate two tenses. 'yesterday' sends me to a point of time that is nearer than "last year," so I use 'have bought' and 'had bought' repectively.)


(2) How about this? Any nuance here?
--I have lived here for many years.
--I have been living here for many years.


I'm looking forward to your answers. Thanks.
 

Francois

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
What's difference between present perfect and past perfect here?
--I have bought that dress yesterday.
--I had bought that dress last year.
I would say: "I bought that dress yesterday".
As for the difference between the 2 tenses, I'll give you two examples:
"I've bought that dress at the flea market, you want to wash it before wearing it"
"If I had bought that dress at the flea market, I would have washed it before wearing it"

--I have lived here for many years.
--I have been living here for many years.
If you're still living here now, you would say "I've been living...".

FRC
 

blacknomi

Key Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Member Type
Student or Learner
Francois said:
What's difference between present perfect and past perfect here?
--I have bought that dress yesterday.
--I had bought that dress last year.
I would say: "I bought that dress yesterday".
As for the difference between the 2 tenses, I'll give you two examples:
"I've bought that dress at the flea market, you want to wash it before wearing it"
"If I had bought that dress at the flea market, I would have washed it before wearing it"
The second example is sunjuctive mood. How can I make it as 'past prefect'?
--I had bought that dress when you bought it. (When two events are compared, I'd use 'had bought' to emphasize the achievement of the main clause was accomplished earlier.) Am I right? :lol:




Francois said:
--I have lived here for many years.
--I have been living here for many years.
If you're still living here now, you would say "I've been living...".
FRC

Both sentences can mean you are still living here now. The second one has stronger link to the fact at present. Is that what you meant? :wink:
 

Francois

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
The second example is sunjuctive mood. How can I make it as 'past prefect'?
Yeah, that one was not good.
You could say "I had just finished doing the washing up when he came home".
When two events are compared, I'd use 'had bought' to emphasize the achievement of the main clause was accomplished earlier.) Am I right?
I think so.

Both sentences can mean you are still living here now. The second one has stronger link to the fact at present. Is that what you meant?
Yes.

FRC
 

blacknomi

Key Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2004
Member Type
Student or Learner
Francois said:
The second example is sunjuctive mood. How can I make it as 'past prefect'?
Yeah, that one was not good.
You could say "I had just finished doing the washing up when he came home".
When two events are compared, I'd use 'had bought' to emphasize the achievement of the main clause was accomplished earlier.) Am I right?
I think so.

Both sentences can mean you are still living here now. The second one has stronger link to the fact at present. Is that what you meant?
Yes.

FRC

Thank you very much, FRC. :lol:
 

Lenka

Senior Member
Joined
May 3, 2004
Member Type
Student or Learner
I still have one big question. Thank you for your answers, most of them really helped, but I don‘t still understand this:

Iza:
…and studied at Oxfor University,…. – why they used past simple? It is an experience, isn’t it? I think it is

She finished studying, she is not studying anymore, the action of studying is done....you have to use past simple.

It is not considered an experience, since the action of studying is very specific in time (she studied for 4 years or so).




Your answers are a little different here:

Francois:
It is the same as in sentence: She is a teacher. –why don’t we use „She has been a teacher.“ ?

Again, if you say "she's been a teacher", it must have a strong link with the present. For instance, "she's been a teacher for two years" or "she's been a teacher, she must know the answer to this question!".

Iza:
It is the same as in sentence: She is a teacher. –why don’t we use „She has been a teacher.“ ?
Could we say: „She has always been a teacher.“ ?

Yes, you can say that.

Francois:
Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes today.
Looks fine.

Iza:
Is this correct? : I have heard that you had bought new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have bouhgt new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have bought new clothes today.
Is this correct? : I have once bought new clothes.
Is this correct? : I have several times bought new clothes.

1) correct
2) I bought new clothes today.
3) I once bought new cloths.
4) correct, I have bought new cloths several times (since last week). Put 'several times' at the end.


And, at last, one last question:
You, Iza and Francois, both say that this questions is incorrect:

I have heard that you had bought new clothes

You say I should write: I have heard that you bought new cloths.
As I remember, I learnt at school, that when I speak and use indirect (reported) speech I have to write Past Perfect instead of Present Perfect. Like here:
Present perfect: We’ve met before. Past Perfect: She said they’d met before.
- Just this example I have just written up of my English textbook, so it has to be right.
(By the way, can I normally use the sentence I used (have used ?) just before the moment? : … I have just written up of my English…)

So, if you say that sentence I have bouhgt new clothes. is all right, why I can’t write I have heard that you had bought new clothes. ?
I have bought is present perfect that changes to past perfect because of indirect speech, doesn’t it?
 

Francois

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
Present perfect: We’ve met before. Past Perfect: She said they’d met before
Yes it's fine.

Just this example I have just written up of my English textbook, so it has to be right
You've just copied this example from your English textbook, so it must be right.

So, if you say that sentence I have bouhgt new clothes. is all right, why I can’t write I have heard that you had bought new clothes. ?
You could say "she said that she had bought new clothes". However, after "I have heard", you must refer to something that happened in the past and is over, hence the past simple.

FRC
 

Lenka

Senior Member
Joined
May 3, 2004
Member Type
Student or Learner
Thank you for your answer, Francois.
Is the sentence „I have heard that you bought new clothes“ based on indirect speech at all? I mean, if I wanted to to find how to gramatically write this sentence all right, where should I search it? Do you know what I mean? I mean – when I want to know how to write a sentence with indirect speech, I have to find chapter „indirect speech“ in my textbook. But what should I search if I want to find something about this sentence?

And what about the sentence „I have bought new clothes today“ ? You said it looked fine, but Iza said it was correct to say: „I bought new clothes today“. So what is right?
 

Francois

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
Is the sentence „I have heard that you bought new clothes“ based on indirect speech at all?
I don't think so.

But what should I search if I want to find something about this sentence?
Hmmm, I don't think there's a special chapter dealing with "I've heard that". After all, there's nothing special with this sentence. Maybe the "past perfect" chapter will help you.

And what about the sentence „I have bought new clothes today“ ? You said it looked fine, but Iza said it was correct to say: „I bought new clothes today“. So what is right?
Well, "today" is an unfinished period of time (like "this week"), so it is gramatically correct to use the present perfect.

FRC
 

Lenka

Senior Member
Joined
May 3, 2004
Member Type
Student or Learner
I still don’t understand why I can’t say the sentence: I have heard that you have bought new clothes. Perhaps only somewhere deep in my mind i understand it, but I don’t want to admit it.
Could this following sentence be correct?:
I have heard that you had never been to Australia.
(I mean the direct speech is: You have never been to Australia.)


My last question for today. I read book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll) yesterday (btw: I read it in English, but the book is bilingual – it means on the other side (page) of the book it is always translated. I think this book gives me a lot (I mean of English), but I have a very big problem: I don’t know enough English words to understand almost every sentence of it… And just at the beginnig (about 12th page) I found this two sentences which I don‘t understand why Carroll used just past simple at. Here are the sentences:
1)Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: Did you ever eat a bat?
2)…she knelt down and looked along the passage into the lovelist garden you ever saw.

In my opinion, it should be like this, shouldn’t it? :
1) ….Have you ever eaten a bat?
2)…into the lovelist garden you have ever seen.

Why did Lewis Carroll use just past simple instead of present perfect?
I heard that for example in USA, they don’t use present perfect at all, but as I know, Lewis Carroll comes from England, so, what’s the reason?
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
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UK
Current Location
Japan
I would use the present perfect in both cases. Don't forget that Carroll was writing a long time ago and the language has changed a lot since then. In American English, they do use the present perfect, but might well use the past there.

These examples suggest that British English has changedon this issue, while American hasn't.

You'll find a number of differences in Victorian English. English changes repidly- a few decdes ago 'I must go to the doctor yesterday' was perfectly normal. Now it would be seen as an error. ;-)
 

Francois

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2004
I have heard that you had never been to Australia.
One could say that if, for instance, he meets someone who's never been to Australia before, but both of them are currently in Australia -- that is, it's the first time he's come to Australia. I would add 'before' at the end of your sentence, though.
I still don't think it is indirect speech.

1)Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: Did you ever eat a bat?
2)…she knelt down and looked along the passage into the lovelist garden you ever saw.
I agree with you. Maybe that's a peculiar or archaic construct, I dunno.

FRC
 
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