Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
English usage: a concept of time
Thread poster: engtense
engtense
English
Nov 24, 2005

A concept of time

I am the host of www.englishtense.com

I am not creating time, but conventional English grammars may have missed a concept of time. As we may agree, "Last Week" is a past time, and "Now" is a present time. But what about the time span between last week and now? It is neither Last Week nor Now. It has no name. I have noticed that English has Present Perfect designed to express this time span:

I will make up an example to explain this time concept:
Ex: Last Friday I bought a ball. I have painted it red.
== PAINT in Perfect indicates it finishes outside the time frame (last Friday) ahead. I didn't paint it red on the day I bought it. This also implies we are actually aware of the time of the painting.

Compare:
Ex: Last Friday I bought a ball. I painted it red.
== Simple Past will mean the painting finishes within the time frame ahead.

Here are some examples collected from website:
-----------------------
Ex: Though Green Dollars (supplementary local currencies) WERE INTRODUCED to New Zealand in 1987 the systems HAVE weaknesses, which INCLUDE dependence on the work of a few central organisers and HAVE NOT GROWN beyond small groups with very modest turnover. Time dollars HAVE ALSO BEEN INVENTED recently, being a 'service credit' for voluntary work¡K..

Ex: The illegal overthrow of democratically ELECTED governments in 1987 and 2000 HAVE HAD a traumatic impact on the nation from which we HAVE STILL NOT RECOVERED, Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said.

Ex: The first revision WENT into affect in 1987 and there HAVE BEEN updates. Related standards for environmental, and health and safety HAVE MORE RECENTLY GONE into effect.

Ex: I WENT to Israel with them in 1987 and really HAVE ALWAYS LIKED them.

Ex: Instituted in 1987, the awards HAVE GIVEN public recognition to those who HAVE MADE outstanding achievements and innovations worldwide.
-----------------------

What do you think about this concept of time? Opinion is welcome.


[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2005-11-24 22:20]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2005-11-25 09:07]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
Italian to English
+ ...
last Monday, yesterday, 5 minutes ago, a nanosecond ago... Nov 24, 2005

...all ways to express the time span, as appropriate, between last week and now.

Maybe it's too late, I'm too tired and I ought to go to bed, but I don't see your point. If it's important to know the time you painted your ball red, you can tell us - using the past tense.

"Last Friday I bought a ball. On Saturday I painted it red".

If you don't tell us when you painted it, it's obviously not important that we know - you're concentrating attention on the fact that the ball has been painted red, not the time of its painting.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Dr. Janos Annus  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 20:09
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
What is the problem? Nov 25, 2005

You bought a ball on Friday, and [since then, whenever, up to now] have painted it red [so it is red now]. As simple as that.
Cheers, good painting,
Janos


Direct link Reply with quote
 

PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 20:09
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Present perfect - what's your point? Nov 25, 2005

engtense wrote:

I am not creating time, but conventional English grammars may have missed a concept of time. As we may agree, "Last Week" is a past time, and "Now" is a present time. But what about the time span between last week and now? It is neither Last Week nor Now. It has no name. I have noticed that English has Present Perfect designed to express this time span:



I'm not sure what you're getting at here, because English does indeed have a word for this time span - Present Perfect - as you also mention yourself.

What are you asking us to comment on?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 20:09
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Okay, I get it now! Nov 25, 2005

After looking at your website, I get your point, but, I don't agree that they have 'missed' a concept of time.

The interesting times are - in this case - past and present, which will always be present in sentences stretching from past to present, but the time in between is not necessary, i.e. it will not always be there.

You cannot use this time in between without a reference to past and present (this reference is often inherent and thereby not always explicit in the sentence), but you can easily use past and/or present without any reference - inherent or explicit - to this time in between!

This tense in between is merely a tool for going from past to present describing events in between these two points in time.

The same would be true for moving from present to future. You do not need the time in between, it's merely an option for leading up to the actual point - the future. And again, this time in between cannot stand alone without both present and future - inherent or explicit.

My guess is that this is exactly why it has no name - it's not important!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
engtense
English
TOPIC STARTER
reply Nov 25, 2005

Do you, respectable people, know Present Perfect has dual functions?
Ex: They have worked in that factory in the past. (a finished action)
Ex: They have worked in that factory since 2000. (an unfinished action)
== The two uses are contradictory.

Instead of clarifying the two contradictory uses, English grammars just merge them vaguely as one, saying something like "Present Perfect expresses a past action has some connection to the present". Because of the only-one vagueness, however, many deep learners openly admit they have no idea how to explain the tense. Are you aware of that? I have explained this in the following web page:
http://www.englishtense.com/newapproach/2_7.htm

I have found out a tense-changing process, which can explain why Present Perfect embraces the two uses:
(a) Simple Present action indicates a present action (a past action):
Ex: I live in Hong Kong.
(b) Present Perfect action indicates a past action (an unfinished action):
Ex: I have lived in Japan.
BUT: If we mention a definite past time, tenses have to be changed:
(c) Present Perfect action indicates a present action (a past action =a):
Ex: I have lived in Hong Kong since 2002/in the past three years.
(d) Simple Past action indicates a past action (an unfinished action =b):
Ex: I lived in Japan five years ago.
http://www.englishtense.com/newapproach/1_3.htm

Are you aware also that, because grammars have failed to explain the third point, so they hide away such time phrases as "in the past three years"? The result? Many Asians think they can only use Simple Past with "in the past three years". Here is also one victim from German:
http://www.englisch-hilfen.de/board/ftopic1481.html
The forum moderator thought I can only use Simple Past with "in the past".

Cautiously, I am doing my best to reflect here students' suffering in learning English tense.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 20:09
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
I beg to differ with you. Nov 25, 2005

engtense wrote:

Do you, respectable people, know Present Perfect has dual functions?
Ex: They have worked in that factory in the past. (a finished action)
Ex: They have worked in that factory since 2000. (an unfinished action)
== The two uses are contradictory.



The first example is a continuous action taking place from some point of time in the past to some other point of time in the past.



I have found out a tense-changing process, which can explain why Present Perfect embraces the two uses:
(a) Simple Present action indicates a present action (a past action):
Ex: I live in Hong Kong.


I guess you cannot mean "a present action (a past action)"?
This is an unfinished action, because you are still living in Hong Kong.


(b) Present Perfect action indicates a past action (an unfinished action):
Ex: I have lived in Japan.


I guess you cannot mean that "I have lived in Japan" should indicate an unfinished action? This action did finish in the past. Yes, it was an ongoing event in the past, but this does not make it unfinished. Since it no longer is true at the present time, the action has finished.
If you need it to be true, you need to add a time marker of some sort, e.g. "for some years" or something. This would make it an unfinished action = an action which is still taking place.


BUT: If we mention a definite past time, tenses have to be changed:
(c) Present Perfect action indicates a present action (a past action =a):
Ex: I have lived in Hong Kong since 2002/in the past three years.


This does not make it a present action, but a continuous action stretching from some time in the past to the present point in time.


(d) Simple Past action indicates a past action (an unfinished action =b):
Ex: I lived in Japan five years ago.
http://www.englishtense.com/newapproach/1_3.htm


Surely this is a finished action, since you do not live there anymore.


Are you aware also that, because grammars have failed to explain the third point, so they hide away such time phrases as "in the past three years"? The result? Many Asians think they can only use Simple Past with "in the past three years".


The simple past does need a time modifier unless the time frame for your action is inherent in the text/conversation.


Here is also one victim from German:
http://www.englisch-hilfen.de/board/ftopic1481.html
The forum moderator thought I can only use Simple Past with "in the past".


After reading your link I can tell that even you have mixed it up. What you wrote there is the exact opposite of what you have written here in some parts


Cautiously, I am doing my best to reflect here students' suffering in learning English tense.


Yes, I can see how you may have troubles, and I hope you figure it out in the end. Happy learning.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
engtense
English
TOPIC STARTER
Correction Nov 25, 2005

I apologize. I post the more correct version here.

Do you, respectable people, know Present Perfect has dual functions?
Ex: They have worked in that factory in the past. (a finished action)
Ex: They have worked in that factory since 2000. (an unfinished action)
== The two uses are contradictory.

Instead of clarifying the two contradictory uses, English grammars just merge them vaguely as one, saying something like "Present Perfect expresses a past action has some connection to the present". Because of the only-one vagueness, however, many deep learners openly admit they have no idea how to explain the tense. Are you aware of that? I have explained this in the following web page:
http://www.englishtense.com/newapproach/2_7.htm

I have found out a tense-changing process, which can explain why Present Perfect embraces the two uses:
(a) Simple Present action indicates a present action (an unfinished action):
Ex: I live in Hong Kong.
(b) Present Perfect action indicates a past action (a finished action):
Ex: I have lived in Japan.
BUT: If we mention a definite past time, tenses have to be changed:
(c) Present Perfect action indicates a present action (an unfinished action =a):
Ex: I have lived in Hong Kong since 2002/in the past three years.
(d) Simple Past action indicates a past action (a finished action =b):
Ex: I lived in Japan five years ago.
http://www.englishtense.com/newapproach/1_3.htm

Are you aware also that, because grammars have failed to explain the third point, so they hide away such time phrases as "in the past three years"? The result? Many Asians think they can only use Simple Past with "in the past three years". Here is also one victim from German:
http://www.englisch-hilfen.de/board/ftopic1481.html
The forum moderator thought I can only use Simple Past with "in the past".

Cautiously, I am doing my best to reflect here students' suffering in learning English tense.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
m a r i n a  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
I just wanted to point out that ... Nov 26, 2005

engtense wrote:


Ex: They have worked in that factory in the past. (a finished action)
(...)
(b) Present Perfect action indicates a past action (a finished action):
Ex: I have lived in Japan.
(...)
(c) Present Perfect action indicates a present action (an unfinished action =a):
Ex: I have lived in Hong Kong since 2002/in the past three years.



all these sentences are ungrammatical.


Maru


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:09
French to English
what about this? Nov 26, 2005

I admit that once or twice I lose the thread of your point, but it seems that perhaps what you need is:

I have been painting the ball (since some time after I bought it)

and

They have been working in the factory since 2003.

These refer to an action started in the past and still going on now.

(And I must say I can see nothing wrong with the 3 sentences re-posted immediately above this post )

Good luck with what you're trying to do,
Charlie


Direct link Reply with quote
 

PCovs
Denmark
Local time: 20:09
Member (2003)
English to Danish
+ ...
Marina, please explain. Nov 26, 2005

Marina Meier wrote:

engtense wrote:


Ex: They have worked in that factory in the past. (a finished action)
(...)
(b) Present Perfect action indicates a past action (a finished action):
Ex: I have lived in Japan.
(...)
(c) Present Perfect action indicates a present action (an unfinished action =a):
Ex: I have lived in Hong Kong since 2002/in the past three years.



all these sentences are ungrammatical.

Maru


Excuse me, but talking to a learner of the English language you cannot simply say that these sentences are 'ungrammatical' without explaining.

I suppose you are suggesting that the sentences are for some reason not grammatically correct? If this is the case, I think you should at least try to explain why. Otherwise this comment is next to useless to Engtense, IMHO.

Engtense is trying to make sense of the English tense system, and suggests - or rather claims - that a time reference is missing in the text books, therefore an explanation of your claim - that some of the sentences are not grammatically correct - could indeed be helpful to Engtense.

[Edited at 2005-11-27 07:35]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Angus Woo
Local time: 02:09
Chinese to English
+ ...
I don't think there is a problem Nov 27, 2005

The logic is very simple. If the conventional English grammars indeed have missed a concept of time, then you won't be able to use English to convey that concept. It supposes to be missing, right?

The fact that you are able to tell everyone in "English" that this concept is missing simply proves that it must not be missing.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
engtense
English
TOPIC STARTER
Reply Nov 27, 2005

Angus Woo wrote:

The logic is very simple. If the conventional English grammars indeed have missed a concept of time, then you won't be able to use English to convey that concept. It supposes to be missing, right?

The fact that you are able to tell everyone in "English" that this concept is missing simply proves that it must not be missing.


Maybe you don't know many learners have found Present Perfect a nuisance. Because grammars have missed this concept of time, even deep learners have to admit they cannot explain the tense for this concept, namely Present Perfect. Please see:
http://www.englishtense.com/newapproach/2_7.htm
They have kindly admitted so because they don't want some honest students and would-be teachers to lose their courage and get into depression. Unaware of the time concept, one will spend a long time learning the tense without getting anything about it.

If we retrieve this concept of time, explanation can be as easy as this:
"To us, in a paragraph, the use of the three tenses can be as simple as this:
-- Simple Present indicates present time.
-- Simple Past indicates past time.
-- Present Perfect indicates the time between past and present.
What else is simpler than this?"
Please see:
http://www.englishtense.com/newapproach/AtAGlance.htm


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Daniela Zambrini  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:09
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
adverbs Nov 27, 2005

engtense wrote:


Do you, respectable people, know Present Perfect has dual functions?
Ex: They have worked in that factory in the past. (a finished action)
Ex: They have worked in that factory since 2000. (an unfinished action)
== The two uses are contradictory.

Instead of clarifying the two contradictory uses, English grammars just merge them vaguely as one, saying something like "Present Perfect expresses a past action has some connection to the present". Because of the only-one vagueness, however, many deep learners openly admit they have no idea how to explain the tense.


The point is that the difference (finished/unfinished action) is further determined by time adverbs/clauses/phrases used to complete the sentence.

Furthermore, students find difficulty in understanding nuances (and not only in English grammar, I dare say this is the case when studying all languages) if they keep referring to the patterns and language structures of their own native language. I am sure I would have the same (if not greater) difficulty were I to study a language such as Chinese.

I understand what you are saying, but I don't fully comprehend your question on the issue.

Ciao, DZ


Direct link Reply with quote
 
engtense
English
TOPIC STARTER
Solving the problem Nov 27, 2005

Daniela Zambrini wrote:
The point is that the difference (finished/unfinished action) is further determined by time adverbs/clauses/phrases used to complete the sentence.


You see the front page of my website:
http://www.englishtense.com/index.htm
and you may understand the whole thing in a rather simple way.

You talk about time adverbials, but what if grammars hide away some time adverbials, so that they may tell you some conclusion not wholly true? Please see:
http://www.englishtense.com/newapproach/2_4.htm

I would like to know if other languages will do the same concealment of time adverbials? My new approach is to help people solve the difficulty and release the time adverbials from the concealment.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

English usage: a concept of time

Advanced search






WordFinder
The words you want Anywhere, Anytime

WordFinder is the market's fastest and easiest way of finding the right word, term, translation or synonym in one or more dictionaries. In our assortment you can choose among more than 120 dictionaries in 15 languages from leading publishers.

More info »
LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search