Rita Barros from Brazil writes:
I always get confused when I use still, yet and already.
Could you please explain them again with examples.
Maria-Leena Luotonen from Finland writes: I've been wondering
why my grammar book says that yet goes at the end of the
clause in interrogative and negative sentences when I have seen
I got the book a month ago and I haven't yet had a chance to
read it. (Cambridge Dictionaries on line) Later issues are
not yet published.(British Library)
Yet - position in sentence
I would say that your grammar book, Cambridge Dictionaries and
the British Library are all correct, Maria-Leena.
Yet is normally placed at the end of the clause, particularly
in informal English and in questions, but can go immediately
after not in negative sentences in a more formal style,
such as Cambridge Dictionaries and the British Library have used.
Compare also the following:
How long have you been in Britain?
~ For over a year now.
~ Have you been to Wales or Scotland yet?
~ No, not yet. I haven't even ventured out of London
Although she has been in Britain for more than a year, Maria has
not yet visited either Wales or Scotland.
Yet - meaning and use
We use yet in questions to ask whether something has happened
up to the present time. Not yet then indicates that it hasn't
Is dinner ready yet? I'm starving.
~ No, it's not ready yet. It'll be another half
In a more formal style it is possible to use yet in affirmative
We have yet to discover whether there are any survivors
from the plane crash.
I have yet to speak to the personnel manager to discuss
In a less formal style, we might say:
We still don't know whether there are survivors from
the plane crash.
I haven't spoken to the manager yet, so don't know
what my future will be.
I still haven't spoken to the manager, so don't know
what my future will be.
Thus, in negative sentences, as we can see from these examples,
there is considerable overlap in meaning and use between yet
and still. Still is the more emphatic of the two.
still - meaning and use
We use still in questions, affirmative and negative sentences
to indicate that something is not finished and that we are
perhaps surprised or concerned about this. Because it is emphatic,
it often carries considerable word stress:
Is it still raining?
~ Yes, it's still raining. No chance of playing tennis
today, I'm afraid.
I still don't know whether Brendan will be coming
to the engagement party. I've tried to reach him several times
on the phone, but can't seem to get hold of him.
already - meaning and use
Whereas still and yet normally refer to present and future circumstances,
already normally refers to something that is in the present
or recent past. It is mainly used in questions and affirmative sentences
and usually expresses surprise that something has happened sooner
When do you expect Polly to arrive?
~ She's already here! Haven't you seen her?
Can you give me a hand with the layout for this article.
~ No, I'm sorry, I'm already late. I have to leave right now.
Can you help me move those boxed upstairs?
~ I've already moved them.
Have you finished that typing already?
Yes, I finished it about five minutes ago.
By the age of three, Mozart had already learnt to play the
still / already - position in sentence
Note from the above examples that in contrast to yet, still and
already usually occupy mid position in the clause.
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