were trying vs. have been trying

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soleiljy

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Hi all,

Following is the article extracted from antropological text book.

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We. all know waht culture is. Or do we? Can you define culture? If you can't, don't worry. You're in good company. For the entire history of anthropology, a continual project has been to try to come up with just such a definition. One reason for the difficulty is simply that the phenomenon of culture is so complex. The second reason is that, until recently, we were trying to define culture in a way that made it our species' unique possession.
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If above red-colored thing was substituted with "have been trying to", how would it sound like, comparing the original one.

Thanks, :)
 

jamiep

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Replacing the text with "have been trying" wouldn't work because the meanings are different.

"Were trying" is past continuous and means that you are no longer trying.
"Have been trying" is present perfect continuous and means you are still trying.
 

beascarpetta

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The second reason is that, until recently, we were trying to define culture in a way that made it our species' unique possession.


I don't think that you can actually substitute we were trying because "recently" ties the action in progress to the past. (just gut feeling ;-))
 

David L.

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I don't think that you can actually substitute we were trying because "recently" ties the action in progress to the past.

Just to be absolutely clear: I'm sure beascarpetta means you can't subsitutute 'have been trying' for 'were trying' because 'recently' is used.
 

soleiljy

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Then how about "had been trying"???
 
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