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I received vs. I've received your mail

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Cryohead, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. Cryohead Junior Member

    Hungarian
    Could someone please tell me which one is right if I (have?) received the mail today and I'm about to answer it?

    I received your mail.
    I have recived your mail.

    This problem constantly gives me the grief. My language doesn't have such element that would indicate wether someting has a "current effect" or not. I (have?) already tried to dig into this "have" stuff by rummaging through grammar related articles but I just can't grasp the concept. How could a mail have an "ongoing effect"?

    To me, both sounds right. Which is obviously not the case.

    I would really appreciate some insight.
     
  2. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    Hello Cryo ~ you have my sympathies! ~ it's a difficult concept to convey to speakers of languages which don't have it. The way I used to attempt it when I was teaching English as a Foreign Language was something like this: use the present perfect when the past event you're talking about has some relevance at the time you're saying it.
    So ...

    I've received your email for which I'm now thanking you and which I'm now answering and the contents of which I'm just about to comment upon ... ['relevance']
    Unfortunately, the difference is often very very slight. You could just as well say:

    I received your email this morning. Thanks for that. Here's my answer. You said in it ... [here there's more 'distance' between your receiving the email and your answer]

    Does that help at all?
     
  3. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    Maybe this will help:
    - the simple past is the tense of history - the past with 'distance' as Ewie put it;
    - the present perfect is the tense of hot news - with hot news the speaker always wants to give the impression (whether or not it is true) that the news is relevant to our present and therefore worth hearing.
     
  4. Cryohead Junior Member

    Hungarian
    Thank you both for your answers.

    "I have been studying English for a while." -> that makes sense, since it was true yesterday, and it's true in this very moment. No ambiguity there. In this regard, I do understand the concept. (at least I would like to believe that)

    So let's examine other situtions:

    I studied English. -> In the past, not anymore.
    I have studied English. -> To me, it says the very same, but it somehow reinforces the statement. I don't know why :) (of course I have! or someting like that, correct me if I'm wrong) It doesn't seem to convey any current relevance though. Unless of course you consider the assertion having current relevance.
     
  5. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    I studied English = That is what I did with all those hours.
    I have studied English = I know English now,
    or possibly = The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who have studied English and those who have not; and those two kinds of people have different mind-sets. Even those who learned English and have now forgotten it all have had their minds changed. I am one of those that have studied English.

    Whenever a speaker uses the present perfect (not the present perfect continuous), the listener is invited to play a kind of guessing game: what is the implied effect on the present?
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
  6. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I have studied English means to me and what I'm about to say next is relevant to that fact

    e.g. I've studied English and so I can tell you that you are wrong in thinking that 'Good day' can be said at any time of day etc.
     
  7. Cryohead Junior Member

    Hungarian
    Hey, that seems to be a valuable info!

    So this one would be wrong then:

    "From 2008 to 2009 I have studied English. I also like apples."

    whereas this one is right:

    "From 2008 to 2009 I have studied English, so nobody could say that haven't tried."

    ?
     
  8. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    Both of these sentences breach the basic rules:
    1) don't use the present perfect when you specify a point of time in the past. If you specify the time in the past it counts as history, therefore simple past;
    2) when talking about a period of time in the past up to the present, use the present perfect continuous.
     
  9. MaximuS.111

    MaximuS.111 Senior Member

    ukraine
    russian
    Hello everybody! :)... I have a problem with understanding this slight difference between present perfect and present perfect continuous... Here se16teddy says:
    Am I right that it works only if an action is continuous?... which one is correct of the following?
    Ever since I saw her for the first time I have known I love her.
    Ever since I saw her for the first time I have known I have loved her.
    Ever since I saw here for the first time I I've been knowing I've been loving her.
    Ever since I saw her for the first time I knew I loved her. - this seems correct, although now perfect tense is used.
    Ever since I saw her for the first time I have known I loved her.

    Please help! :)
     
  10. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    It would be more idiomatic to say "I knew I loved her from the first moment I saw her" or "I have loved her from the first moment I saw her".
     
  11. stallion Senior Member

    Arizona, EUA
    English-US/Spanish-México
    Ha, ha, ha... keep it simple!
     
  12. MaximuS.111

    MaximuS.111 Senior Member

    ukraine
    russian
    Thanks mate! :)... ok, why not like this then?:
    I've been loving here from the first moment I saw her.
    This is exactly how se16teddy advised.
     
  13. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    I don't like that at all. I would consider that to be very unidiomatic.

    I could imagine it being said as a rude joke where "loving" meant "fucking".
     
  14. MaximuS.111

    MaximuS.111 Senior Member

    ukraine
    russian
    Yeah, I don't like it either. Thanks for explanation. Best of luck!
     
  15. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    I only advised the basic rule. One exception to the basic rule is for stative verbs, such as verbs expressing feelings and states of perception (love, feel, know etc). These do not normally use continuous tenses.
    http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/support-files/stative-verbs-list.pdf
     
  16. stallion Senior Member

    Arizona, EUA
    English-US/Spanish-México
    Hey guys, It is 'I've been loving HER (not HERE)'

    "I loved her from the moment I saw her" (from that moment forward)
    or "I've loved her since the moment I saw her" (ever since and still...)
     
  17. Phil-Olly Senior Member

    Scotland, English
    To go back to your original question, I think it's helpful to think of why there is a 'have' in the perfect tense.

    'I have received your mail' suggests that I have your letter, right here in my hand.

    whereas 'I received your mail' could mean that I read it, filed it, or binned it.

    You should also be aware that the perfect tense is used far more in BE than in AE.
     
  18. MaximuS.111

    MaximuS.111 Senior Member

    ukraine
    russian
    Thanks to all! :)... now it's clear that nothing is clear :). I'll be using the suggestion that Phil-Olly made!
    Best of luck!
     

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