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Present perfect progressive in Greek

Discussion in 'Ελληνικά (Greek)' started by panettonea, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    In English, we have both the present perfect and the present perfect progressive (or continuous), and they often imply different things. Here are examples illustrating the two tenses, respectively:

    1) I have written the letter.
    2) I have been writing the letter.

    In 1), we know that the letter has been written. We don't know when it was completed, but we do know that it's all finished. In 2), the situation is much more ambiguous. The writing has continued up to the present, or at least very close to the present. But we don't know whether the letter has been finished, and the implication is actually that it has not been finished.

    Anyway, does Greek have any way of differentiating between 1) and 2)? Obviously, 1) would be:

    Έχω γράψει το γράμμα, or
    Έγραψα το γράμμα.

    But what about 2)? Is there any way to convey the progressive perfect meaning in Greek?
     
  2. Perseas Senior Member

    Athen
    Griechisch
    I think with present (ενεστώτας).
    I have been writing this letter for 2 weeks.
    Γράφω αυτό το γράμμα (για) 2 εβδομάδες.
     
  3. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    Thanks. Oh, with the present, huh? I would've never guessed that. That sure is cute--what will they think of next? ;)
     
  4. Eltheza

    Eltheza Senior Member

    Worcestershire, UK
    English - England (Midlands)
    It's not illogical though, because it's an activity that's still going on in the present;)! It's just a different perception:D!

    Here's a related point that had me stumped for a while:

    I haven't seen her for two weeks = Εχω δύο εβδομάδες να την δω > literally in English - 'I have two weeks to see her', which an English-speaker would interpret as meaning, "Oh, she's going away on holiday next month, so I only have two weeks to see her"!

    Dissertation topic: "Different Grammars and One's Perception of Time" (?) :D
     
  5. Αγγελος Senior Member

    Greek
    When the English present perfect indicates an action or a state that extends up to the present time, it is generally rendered by the present tense, not only in Greek but (I think) in most European languages.
    I have known her for years = Την ξέρω εδώ και χρόνια
    I have lived here since 1970 = Μένω εδώ από το 1970
    This is, of course, also the case with the present perfect continuous:
    I've been working on the railroad = Δουλεύω στους σιδηροδρόμους
     
  6. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    OK, thanks for the info.

    What is the significance of και in that sentence?

    So even without the progressive/continuous aspect, the present perfect in English still normally gets rendered in the present in many other languages, huh? Interesting.
     
  7. Αγγελος Senior Member

    Greek
    It doesn't mean anything by itself. "εδώ και" is an unanalyzable expression, meaning more or less "for the last..." Έχω πυρετό εδώ και δέκα μέρες = Ι''ve had a fever for the last ten days.


    This is really a question about English grammar. The present perfect continuous always expresses an action extending into the present ("I've been studying Greek for years"). The simple present perfect can mean the same thing ("I've studied Greek for years"), especially with those verbs that have no continuous tenses ("I've known him since 1980"), in which case it will be rendered as a present tense in other languages ("Je le connais depuis 1980", τον ξέρω από το 1980); but it can calso express an action that took place entirely in the past but whose results are still perceptible ("I've been to Crete several times", "X. has written some great novels"), and in that case it will be rendered by either just the simple past or by a tense formally corresponding to the present perfect (έχω πάει etc.)
     

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