EN: 20 septembre 2009, papa est parti

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by chien, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. chien Senior Member

    french france

    I would like to know if I must use the present perfect in the following:

    "20 September 2009, daddy has left, quickly, without saying anything. He has left everything on the table, his bag, his notebooks...".

    The person of whom I speak has just died, the date of his death is mentioned in the text and is close to the time of the speech. So is it correct to use the present perfect in this case?
  2. bp13 Junior Member

    English - United States
    Your reasoning is good, and it would be correct if the person were living and if there were a possibility of his returning. To say that "he has left" implies that it just recently happened, but it also implies that he is still active and moving somewhere, and unfortunately in this case he is dead.

    Therefore, I think it would make most sense to say "he left" -- this expresses the finality of his departure.
  3. Backidoo New Member

    English - Australia
    Hello chien, bp13 is correct that you should use the simple past "daddy/he left". The general rule for the perfect tense is that it is used when the action has a continuing impact in the present. In your sentence "He has left everything on the table", "has left" implies that the things are still on the table. As for "daddy has left", the perfect "has left" gives the impression that your daily routine is still disrupted by the recent death, or that your emotions are still unsettled.
    However, regardless of the above rule and regardless of how recent the action is, if the time is specified then we almost always use the simple past, e.g. "Can I speak to John?" "Sorry - he has just left" (perfect + no time specified) OR "Sorry - he left 5 minutes ago/he left at 10am/he left in May" (simple + time specified). If you had not given the date of your father's departure, then you could have used either perfect or simple past, depending on what impression you wanted to give. But, because you have given the date, you must use the simple past.
  4. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Hullo, chien.

    I think the form you propose is perfect, especially is you're writing a diary (or a narrative using the Simple Present).


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