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Joined: November 15, 2011
Comments posted: 2
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porsche (above) says: 'The present perfect is used to describe past events that happened at an unspecified time. E.g., "I have eaten breakfast already." is ok, but not "I have eaten breakfast at 9AM." It should be "I ate breakfast at 9AM."'

This is definitely what the present perfect does not do! It is a present tense, about the present. "I have eaten breakfast already" has implications for the present - ' I don't need to eat breakfast again' or' I'm not hungry.' "I ate breakfast at 9AM" has no implications for the present - it is simply a record of when things happened.

American speakers of English often confuse the present perfect and the simple past. Fore example, and American teacher may ask 'Did you do your homework?" which is ungrammatical and technically meaningless, instead of "Have you done your homework?" which has present implication.

It is worth noting that the simple past may be used with present implication - "We (Chinese) invented fireworks." The present implication is that the Chinese are important people with great cultural depth. This si a world away from "The Chinese have invented fireworks" which is not grammatically correct given what we know about fireworks.

blazey December 12, 2011, 12:55pm

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Jim (above) says: In case I’m wrong I took your advice and looked up “have got”. Problem is it isn’t in my Webster’s Collegiate or the online Merriam– but both references define got as past and past participle of get. (notice either way,it is past tense) If you know of a legitimate reference that goes further, let me know. Until then, how you stretch "got" to mean present tense possession is beyond me.

It is a present tense - it's called the present perfect tense. As tenses go this does not travel well. It exists in German, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, among others, and is used differently in each. In old German it was the same as in British English but now is used to mean the same as the past tense. In the south of Italy it is the same as in British English but it refers only to the recent past in the north. In Spanish is is often similar to the English but is largely disused outside Spain. The same with Portuguese. In English it is used the same way in the UK and in most other parts of the English-speaking world except that in the USA its use decreases as you move form the east coast to the west. Many, if not most, Americans are confused by the tense and do not use it consistently - in fact many are very weak when it comes to perfect tenses, possibly due to high levels of immigration and the strong influence of the large number of early German settlers. On 'Judge Judy' for example witnesses habitually use the past perfect tense 'I had gone' as a kind of formal simple past tense to mean 'I went.'

The present perfect has a number of wrinkles but a simple explanation is to say:

I have seen the light of the lord = (past statement) I saw the light of the lord at some undefined point in the past AND (present implication) the information in the past statement has some significance for the present and I invite you to think what it is.

So: I have got = I got something in the past so I have it now.

Longwinded, perhaps, but there you are.

Remember in American English the verb goes 'get got gotten' but in the UK this old form has been dropped and the verb is 'get got got.'

blazey November 15, 2011, 2:28pm

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