# tenses

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A

#### Anonymous

##### Guest
Somebody has tried to solve a mathematical problem involving many stages. He hands me his solution and I, knowing the final answer, notice that he has made a mistake.
A)If I don't know where he has gone wrong, I normally say:"You have made a mistake."
Could I say instead: 1-"You made a mistake." (I'd put in "somewhere if I wanted to use the simple past tense).
B)Imagine I have located where he has made a mistake. I normally say:" You made a mistake here." Could I say 2-"You have made a mistake here." ?

#### Red5

##### Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
I'd answer Yes to your suggestions for A and B; They both look correct to me.

#### ProudToBeMuslim

##### Member
navi said:

"The distinction b/w Past, Present and Future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion"

Albert Einstein :idea:

#### navi tasan

##### Key Member
Thanks Red 5.
One more question in this department.
We are driving in a car and talking. I say:"Oh no! We're lost. During our conversation, we took a wrong turn on X square."
Can I say instead: "During our conversation, we have taken a wrong turn on X square." ?

As for ProudToBeMuslim's remark, or rather, Einstein's remark, as far as I know, that has got to do with the theory of Relativity. In a relativistic four-dimensional space-time continuum, time is just like space, or rather, like length. In other words, space-time is considered as an object, an unchanging four-dimensional thing (time is one of it's dimensions). Just as we look at a three-dimensional object, somebody in a five-dimensional world may look at our four-D world and find it unchanging and stable within an instant of his world.
All this is as far as I know, and I am no expert in this field. In any case it doesn't have much to do with grammar. Even if Einstein was right (this is not absolutely certain given the probablistic character of quantum mecanics in which the future is uncertain and not pre-determined), we are within this illusory world and have no choice but to speak about it. (It is fun to be pretentious. I have to do this more often!!) Therefore in one way or another we need to incorporate past and present and future within our languages and have watches, calendars and what not!
So cheers for the time being and take care!! (And forgive me for sounding so pretentious. Just remember all of this is coming from somebody who can't get his grammar and his spelling "write"!!)

G

#### gwendolinest

##### Guest
navi tasan said:
Can I say instead: "During our conversation, we have taken a wrong turn on X square." ?

Unfortunately, no. Since the event took place at a specific point in time, the past tense must be used here: “During our conversation, we took a wrong turn ….”

However, you may say: “Since we started our conversation, we have taken a wrong turn ….”

#### ProudToBeMuslim

##### Member

As for ProudToBeMuslim's remark, or rather, Einstein's remark, as far as I know, that has got to do with the theory of Relativity

That is 100% right. :0)

#### navi tasan

##### Key Member
Thanks Gwen and ProudToBeMuslim.
As for your answer Gwen, what if our conversation is still going on? I'll rephrase the question:
A)"During this conversation, we have taken a wrong turn." This seems to be OK. But what if I add the specific place where the taking of the wrong turn took place, without mentioning the specific time.
B)"During this conversation, we have taken a wrong turn on Kenmore Square."
I still prefer the simple past, because the place here implies a specific time, but that "time" is actually a "point of time" within the time span during which we have been conversing. The time of our taking a wrong turn has not been specified.
Consider:
C)"I have broken my hand this afternoon."
D)"He has slipped away while we have been watching his brother."
(Does D sound OK to you?)

G

#### gwendolinest

##### Guest
navi tasan said:
As for your answer Gwen, what if our conversation is still going on?

No, no. The conversation may be still going on, but the taking of the wrong turn is not still going on. You can say:

“We have been having a conversation, and we have taken a wrong turn.”

No indication is given here as to exactly when the wrong turn was taken. However, you must say:

“During our conversation, we took a wrong turn.”

The adverbial phrase “during our conversation” points to a specific moment in the past at which the event, the taking of the wrong turn, occurred.

#### navi tasan

##### Key Member
Thanks Gwen.
So, if I get it correctly, even the sentence:
1-"During THIS conversation, we have taken a wrong turn." sounds utterly wrong to you.
Now, what do you think about the sentence D:
"He has slipped away while we have been watching his brother."

#### Red5

##### Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
navi tasan said:
So, if I get it correctly, even the sentence:
1-"During THIS conversation, we have taken a wrong turn." sounds utterly wrong to you.
Sorry to butt in, but I don't think that's quite what Gwen was saying.

"During this conversation, we have taken a wrong turn." is perfectly acceptable. The fact that you used have taken implies that the act is over and happened in the past, but moreover, that it happened at some stage during the conversation IMO.

#### navi tasan

##### Key Member
Do feel free to join in. As far as I am concerned you are not "butting in" at all. And I don't think Gwen will mind either, although I'd better speak only for myself! Thanks for your reply.
Would you say there is not much difference between:
1-"During this converstaion, we took a wrong turn."
and
2-"During this conversation, we have taken a wrong turn." ?
And does the sentence D sound correct to you?

#### Red5

##### Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
My view differs from Gwens only slightly, and be aware that I am speaking as a native English speaker, not as a teacher.

I see "During our conversation..." as implying that at some point in time between the start and the end of our conversation (or now), an event happened.

Would you say there is not much difference between:
1-"During this converstaion, we took a wrong turn."
and
2-"During this conversation, we have taken a wrong turn." ?

I don't see much difference in the two forms. That, however, says nothing about whether they're both correct grammatically. :lol:

#### navi tasan

##### Key Member
Thanks Red.
At one point, I thought that if I did not know where we took the wrong turn, I would say:1-"During this converstaion, we have taken a wrong turn." and if I knew where we took the wrong turn I would say:2-" During this converstaion, we took a wrong turn." But a native-speaker assured me that that was not the case, and I think he is right. I think in this case the present perfect simply changes the focus of the sentence and focuses it on the present state of affairs, whereas the simple past focuses on the act itself.
[In general of-course, if there is an adverb of time and if the period of time in question does not extend to the present one must use the simple past. If the period of time does extend to the present (today, this afternoon, during this converstaion...), both tenses can be used.]
As for my sentence D-"He has slipped away while we have been watching his brother." apparently everybody forgets to tell me whether it is correct or not.

#### Red5

##### Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Regarding our previous comments, I'd like to see what Gwen says - I have no wish to undermine what she said.

D-"He has slipped away while we have been watching his brother."

Again, form a native speakers point of view, I'd say that sounds fine. We'll have to see what the teachers say in response though. :? :roll: :wink:

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