Is the present perfect?
Hello! Well I am feeling absolutely knackered today – I had to work on Saturday so I only had a one day weekend and it’s starting to catch up with me now :-( I’m off to yoga again today though so hopefully that might make me feel a bit more alive.
I enjoyed reading your last couple of posts, Adriana – as always. I had been wondering what job you did and now we know! I’m terrible about visiting the dentist. I went for a check up a few months ago but before then I hadn’t been for three years!!! How embarrassing. The dentist told me that I need four fillings but I decided to wait until after the baby is born because I wasn’t sure how the anaesthetic would affect the unborn baby.
Anyway, today I thought we’d have a little look at some serious grammar… yes, my friends, it’s the that horrid little tense: the present perfect. The bane of many a student and many a teacher, for that matter. Adriana – I’ve noticed that this is the tense that you seem to have the most trouble with so let’s do a bit of revision of the uses and then I’m going to set you some homework.
Okey doke – so we’ve got this tense called the present perfect. What I’d like to know is which nincompoop decided to call it perfect when it clearly isn’t because so many people have trouble understanding it! Dear oh dear, English is a funny language. So here is what we know about it:
How do we form it?
(+) Subject + have/has + third form of the verb (past participle)
(-) Subject + have/has not + third form of the verb (past participle)
(?) Have/has + subject + third form of the verb (past participle)
Everyone following me so far? Jolly good. That’s the easy bit.
Why do we use it?
Well, imagine somebody has just arrived in a new country by boat. He is standing on a cliff and looking out to sea in the direction that he just came from and thinking about his journey. You can think of why we use the present perfect in the same way – we use it to look back on our past now that we have arrived in the present!
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t use the present perfect to talk only about recent events or the recent past – imagine that the man standing on the cliff has bionic eyes and can see the whole 10000 miles around the world that he has come. It’s the same with the present perfect – you can look back at any point in your life no matter how long ago it was, as long as you are relating it to where you are now.
For example: “This volcano has erupted every year for the last ten thousand years” – I’m sure you’ll agree, that’s not the recent past!
How is it different to the past simple?
The past simple, which is usually the tense that people get it confused with, is used to talk about events that have happened in the past and are remote - that is, they aren’t connected to the present. They are events which happened and are now finished. The end.
Look at these examples:
She went to France.
She has been to France.
The first sentence is just a statement – a fact. She went to France. Great. The second sentence suggests that she might be benefiting from the experience of going to France now. She has been to France so therefore she can speak French now, for example.
Okay, let’s have a look at some sentences from your posts Adriana and see if you and our readers can figure out where the mistakes are… I’ll give you a hint – one of the sentences is completely correct and doesn’t need changing! The others each contain at least one mistake.
1) So what are the consequences of this figure? The market became highly specialized for the benefit of the population.
2) I’ve noticed you’ve brought the religion issue up today.
3) After a short trip ‘by car’ to Domingos Martins city, at the last moment, I’ve changed my plans to take a long trip ‘by bus’ to the historical cities ( Ouro Preto, Mariana and Tiradentes) in Minas Gerais state.
4) My unique option was to take the long trip ‘by bus’ to Minas Gerais. I’ve had a great time there, visiting museums and churches dotted around the cities.
5) I’ve had a look at the dictionary but I don’t think it’s the same rave here
6) Apart from the unproven theory that the Phoenicians (incidentally coming from Africa to the Brazilian coast) have had been here firstly, all we learn since our childhood is that Brazil was discovered by Portugal
7) Isn’t strange that the independence of Brazil has been declared by a prince from Portugal?
All right then, well just before I rush off to my yoga class I also wanted to point out three more little things about your posts, Adriana. One is that you used a lovely phrase which I liked a lot “there is still much to be done” – nice. You use lots of good phrases but for some reason this one jumped out at me.
Next, notice the difference between the way I write ‘Brazilians’ and you write ‘brazilians’. See what I’m getting at? YES! It’s the missing capital letter! Brazilians are important! Give them a capital letter! I will start a national campaign if necessary, that will rival the delightfully named ‘Happy little teeth’ campagain… maybe I’ll call it ‘Happy big letters’ :-)
Finally, you have used the word ‘truck’ a couple of times. For example:
A truck of kisses
Even I, rereading my posts, can find a truck of them.
I know exactly what you mean but you just need to add a bit – it should be ‘truckloads’ not just truck to sound absolutely correct.
So with truckloads of good luck for doing the homework, I bid you farewell (until my next post).
Contrast: to show the similarities and differences between two or more things
Having said that: a linker, used between two statements which seem opposite, or to contradict one another but which are both true
A long weekend: usually refers to a three or four day weekend, normally because of a public holiday on the Friday or Monday
Eye-opener: something that is surprising or unusual. Often used in the phrase ‘It was a real eye-opener’
Dotted around: in various locations quite close to each other
Congregation: the group of people who regularly go to worship at a particular church
To grow on someone: when someone starts to like something more than they did before we say it is ‘growing on them’
To pine: to miss something or someone and wish that you had it or were near it
Mouth-watering: describes a type of food that is so delicious you can feel your mouth preparing to eat it
…and yet more
To follow someone (see context)
AND some old ones for review!
To bring home the bacon
Here’s where you can check your answers!
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