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present perfect

 
 
bmo
 
Reply Tue 9 Nov, 2004 06:31 pm
please confirm the following:

1. I have been there before (OK)
2. I have been there yesterday (Not OK)
3. I should have been there yesterday (OK)
4. God may have been there yesterday (OK)

thanks.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 3,415 • Replies: 19
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Craven de Kere
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Nov, 2004 12:01 am
Re: present perfect
bmo wrote:

1. I have been there before (OK)


Yes, but a bit redundant for my tastes.

Quote:
2. I have been there yesterday (Not OK)


Present perfect shouldn't be used with an expired timeframe.

I have been there this week (still not over). <- would be correct

Quote:
3. I should have been there yesterday (OK)

4. God may have been there yesterday (OK)


Yes.
0 Replies
 
bmo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Nov, 2004 01:19 am
thanks. I wanted to confirm as i was asked by someone else, but I could not have explained this well.
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Mister Micawber
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Nov, 2004 07:32 am
I like 'expired timeframe', Craven, haven't heard it before. Thanks.
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bmo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Nov, 2004 08:19 pm
Craven,

1. I have been there before (OK)


But isn't "before" an expired timeframe? It is gone, isn't it?

Thanks.
0 Replies
 
Mister Micawber
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Nov, 2004 10:12 pm
Time frame refers to the speaker's (and sometimes the listener's) perception, not necessarily the outward reality-- though often of course, they are the same, as in when we specify 'Tuesday' or 'yesterday' or '1996' or 'the day I met you".

'Before' is vague, and depends on the speaker's concept-- is s/he thinking about having 'been there' sometime between the unspecified past and now, as opposed to not having 'been there' at all?-- then the present perfect is called for. Or, is s/he thinking about that night last September when she 'was there', definitely, at that past point in time?-- in this case, s/he will use the simple past: 'I was there before'. Hence, either tense is equally possible in your example.
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bmo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2004 07:13 pm
thanks a lot.
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lainchance
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2004 08:09 pm
Thanks Craven de Kere and Mister Micawber and bmo.

I know "I have been there before." is correct, but does it make any differences between "I had been there before."?

Thanks.
0 Replies
 
Mister Micawber
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2004 09:40 pm
Past perfect is an uncommon-- and rapidly dying-- tense in English.

'I had been there before' will only occur in the context of another past event which postdates the 'being there'-- that is the function of past perfect, to clearly priorize two past events:

'I told her that I had been there before'-- 'reported speech', where the 'being there' predates the 'telling'.

'I departed late for the rendezvous because I had been there before, and I knew my route well.'-- again, the 'being there' is seen to clearly predate the departure and knowledge.

Do not use past perfect if the sequence is obvious or if you are mentioning two less closely cause-effective past events: 'I grabbed my hat and left the room.' 'Henry VIII created the Church of England, then Elizabeth I assured its survival'.
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Craven de Kere
 
  2  
Reply Mon 15 Nov, 2004 10:02 pm
lainchance wrote:
I know "I have been there before." is correct, but does it make any differences between "I had been there before."?


Yes. One is present perfect and the other is past perfect. Mister Micawber explains it but another way to think about it is that past perfect is the "past of the past".

That is, something before an event already in the past.

The real hard one to distinguish is present perfect vs simple present.

Mister Micawber is right to say that present perfect is a dying tense, and it's a pity as present perfect often denotes a connection to the present that lends a lot to meaning.

e.g.

Simple Past

"I saw people eating monkey brains last year while I was travelling."

"Did you eat some?"

Present Perfect

"Have you eaten?"

This can mean "ever before now" as in a life experience but would also in certain context mean "are you hungry now" due to the present perfect tense and its implications.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 09:12 am
Craven de Kere wrote:
Mister Micawber is right to say that present perfect is a dying tense, and it's a pity as present perfect often denotes a connection to the present that lends a lot to meaning.

Well, Mister Micawber said that past perfect is a dying tense, but I don't see how either past perfect or present perfect can be described in that fashion. They look perfectly healthy and vigorous to me. Who says that either is "dying?"
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 05:23 pm
joefromchicago wrote:
I don't see how either past perfect or present perfect can be described in that fashion.


Present perfect is being increasingly replaced by simple past.

In American grammar, "did you eat" is an acceptable substitute for "have you eaten".
0 Replies
 
lainchance
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 06:33 pm
Thanks for the clarification, Mister Micawber and Craven de Kere. These tense stuff often mess me up...

LOL. joefromchicago, English never seemed "dying" to me.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 06:35 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:
Present perfect is being increasingly replaced by simple past.

In American grammar, "did you eat" is an acceptable substitute for "have you eaten".

I haven't seen* any sort of erosion of present perfect in favor of simple past, except perhaps in a few isolated examples like the one you cite. Are you relying on some sort of linguistic research, or is this more of a personal observation of yours?


*note the tense
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Nov, 2004 07:04 pm
joefromchicago wrote:
I haven't seen* any sort of erosion of present perfect in favor of simple past, except perhaps in a few isolated examples like the one you cite.
*note the tense


The class of example you use for life experience is still used widely and is unlikely to go away soon. The "isolated examples" you speak of actually make up a significant portion of the use of present perfect, and as I said, its use is in decline.

Quote:
Are you relying on some sort of linguistic research, or is this more of a personal observation of yours?


Both, and this is very common knowledge among linguists and lexicographers and has been for some time. So much so that grammar rules have evolved to actually sanction use of simple perfect where present perfect used to be the grammatical norm.

Heck, it's such common knowledge that I can cherry pick a reference and use Mencken, since you praised him just yesterday.

I'll refer you to his text in The American Language from 1921 speaking about the "decay" of the perfect tenses.

    [i]The misuse of the perfect participle for the preterite, now almost the invariable rule in vulgar American, is common to many other dialects of English, and seems to be a symptom of a general decay of the perfect tenses. That decay has been going on for a long time, and in American, the most vigorous and advanced of all the dialects of the language, it is particularly well marked. Even in the most pretentious written American it shows itself. The English, in their writing, still use the future perfect, albeit somewhat laboriously and self-consciously, but in America it has virtually disappeared: one often reads whole books without encountering a single example of it. Even the present perfect and past perfect seem to be instinctively avoided. The Englishman says "I have dined," but the American says "I am through dinner"; the Englishman says "I had slept," but the American often says "I was done sleeping." Thus the perfect tenses are forsaken for the simple present and the past. [/i]
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lainchance
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Nov, 2004 02:02 am
I agree with Craven de Kere, my grammar book tells me the same thing. Like,

Did you hear the song before?
Have you heared the song before?
are both ok.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Nov, 2004 09:26 am
Craven de Kere wrote:
The class of example you use for life experience is still used widely and is unlikely to go away soon. The "isolated examples" you speak of actually make up a significant portion of the use of present perfect, and as I said, its use is in decline.

I have done no independent research into this subject, so I'll assume that you know more about it than I do.

Craven de Kere wrote:
Both, and this is very common knowledge among linguists and lexicographers and has been for some time. So much so that grammar rules have evolved to actually sanction use of simple perfect where present perfect used to be the grammatical norm.

No doubt language usage changes over time. But if the perfect tenses have been dying "for some time," it makes one wonder whether we are actually witnessing a slow death or a temporary decline.

Craven de Kere wrote:
Heck, it's such common knowledge that I can cherry pick a reference and use Mencken, since you praised him just yesterday.

It's indeed gratifying to know that someone actually reads my posts, but I should point out that I praised Mencken specifically for his political writing, not his work on language.

Craven de Kere wrote:
I'll refer you to his text in The American Language from 1921 speaking about the "decay" of the perfect tenses.

    [i]The misuse of the perfect participle for the preterite, now almost the invariable rule in vulgar American, is common to many other dialects of English, and seems to be a symptom of a general decay of the perfect tenses. That decay has been going on for a long time, and in American, the most vigorous and advanced of all the dialects of the language, it is particularly well marked. Even in the most pretentious written American it shows itself. The English, in their writing, still use the future perfect, albeit somewhat laboriously and self-consciously, but in America it has virtually disappeared: one often reads whole books without encountering a single example of it. Even the present perfect and past perfect seem to be instinctively avoided. The Englishman says "I have dined," but the American says "I am through dinner"; the Englishman says "I had slept," but the American often says "I was done sleeping." Thus the perfect tenses are forsaken for the simple present and the past. [/i]

This actually is a good example of what I was saying above. Clearly Mencken thought that the language was being debased by such vulgarisms as "I am through dinner" instead of the more formal "I have dined." Yet today, it is far more likely that one would hear an American say "I have dined" than "I am through dinner." Although the former is a bit stiff, the latter is unheard of. One is more likely to hear someone say "twenty-three skidoo" or "so's your old man" than to hear someone say "I am through dinner." And the same can be said for "I was done sleeping." Who on earth says that? Indeed, who on earth said that even during Mencken's time?

Language curmudgeons like William Safire will bemoan the depths into which the language has descended, and complain that people don't talk the way that they should. And Mencken, for all his genius as an acute observer of politics and society, could be just as curmudgeonly when it came to language. Yet their dire predictions for the end of civilized discourse have failed to come true, and so I will reserve judgment on whether the reports of the perfect tenses' death have been accurate or greatly exaggerated.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  2  
Reply Thu 18 Nov, 2004 09:10 pm
joefromchicago wrote:
No doubt language usage changes over time. But if the perfect tenses have been dying "for some time," it makes one wonder whether we are actually witnessing a slow death or a temporary decline.


My guess is an overall decline of the perfect tenses but not a temporary one.

They will likely always be used for certain scenerios but I think it's unlikely that they will return to being the standard in the following type of situation:

"Would you like to go to lunch with me?"

"No thanks, I just ate lunch." (instead of "have just eaten lunch", which used to be the rule).
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 08:27 pm
@Craven de Kere,
Quote:

My guess is an overall decline of the perfect tenses but not a temporary one.

They will likely always be used for certain scenerios but I think it's unlikely that they will return to being the standard in the following type of situation:

"Would you like to go to lunch with me?"

"No thanks, I just ate lunch." (instead of "have just eaten lunch", which used to be the rule).


That's the nice thing about language threads; language changes so slowly that they never get dated. Joe, Craven and I have all gotten older but the language is still the same.

Try doing this with a political thread four years old.

Craven [are you really Robert, Craven?] is right that about the perfect tenses, but I'd say they are changing in use rather than an outright decline.

I'm not at all sure that the "rule" which used to be, was ever a rule, meaning a really rule of language, what people actually said. Of course, for BrE, the norm is still to use the present perfect in situations such as that that Craven described above.

But for much longer than our generation, both the present perfect and the simple past have been choices for such a situation. The present perfect is both more formal and it also has an added feature, the ability to resurrect past events and make them seem bright, shiny and, most importantly, important to now.
0 Replies
 
jioday
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 10:24 am
The tenses don't really change at all. It's their forms that change from generation to generation.
0 Replies
 
 

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