A Present Perfect problem

Tsudo

New Member
Poland, Polish
I've come across this reading 'Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire'. Ron says:

"I don't know what made me do it! What was I playing at? There were people - all around - I've gone mad - everyone watching!"

So, why is there The Present Perfect Tense used in the phrase "I've gone mad"?
 
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I've come across this reading 'Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire'. Ron says:

    "I don't know what made me do it! What was I playing at? There were people - all around - I've gone mad - everyone watching!"

    So, why is there The Present Perfect Tense used in the phrase "I've gone mad"?
    To go mad, of course, is an idiom. There might be a rule somewhere, but as far as I can see, this is one of those cases that the present perfect is just part of the idiom, especially since it describes a figurative event with no particular point in time.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    The present perfect fits because it describes an action begun in the past, but still affecting the present.
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Well, it's a hard one. Clearly he tells about a certain occasion which took place at a certain time in the past. I think it's legit to add an adverbial, for example, "yesterday". What do we get?

    "I don't know what made me do it YESTERDAY! What was I playing at? There were people - all around - I've gone mad - everyone watching!"

    I fail to see how Present perfect fits in here. Maybe it should be "I had gone mad"? Just puzzled.
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    The present perfect suggests to me that his "madness" does indeed affect his present condition, but that it is of a recurring nature, liable to flare up in future under similar circumstances. A "mad" person may be sane much of the time, just as an epileptic may rarely suffer seizures.

    If you want to say that his madness was a one-off incident, then of course "had" is superior, or even "I must've gone mad".

    The expanded excerpt (courtesy Dr Google) shows that the fit of madness was indeed short-lived, ending when he "came to my senses":

    "I don't know what made me do it! What was I playing at? There were people - all around - I've gone mad - everyone watching! I was just walking past her in the Entrance Hall - and it sort of came over me - and I asked her! She looked at me like I was a sea slug or something. Didn't even answer. And then - I dunno - I just sort of came to my senses and ran for it."

    But nothing has occurred since to end his vulnerability to such fits - if it could happen then, why not again?
     
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