about present perfect

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sevengem

Senior Member
Chinese
Is there any difference between the following sentences?

I have been smoking since 3 years ago?
I have picked up smoking since 3 years ago?
 
  • sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Many native speakers (myself included) would say that your first sentence is unidiomatic. I would say "I have been smoking for three years".

    No native speaker would produce your second sentence. It is not idiomatic. The sentence, if taken literally, implies that picking up smoking is a process that started three years ago and continues in the present. This does not make sense.
     
    Last edited:

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I have been smoking since ..... 3 years ago?
    I agree with Sound Shift. I could, probably, say this one in exactly the way I punctuated it - "3 years ago" would come as an afterthought if I was unable to remember which year exactly it was that I started smoking. Otherwise, the clean version would be:
    I have been smoking since 2008.

    After "since" I just want to hear a more or less precise past moment (1985, 4 a.m., last Friday, etc.), not a past moment referred to the present (3 years ago).

    Of course, just as Mr. Shift says, under no circumstances, in sober mind :) , would I utter your second sentence.
     

    sevengem

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thanks! It seems that all your attention is focused on the adverbial clause. What if I make the sentences into:
    I have been smoking since last October?
    I have picked up smoking since last October?

    Do they mean the same now?
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks! It seems that all your attention is focused on the adverbial clause. What if I make the sentences into:
    I have been smoking since last October?
    I have picked up smoking since last October?

    Do they mean the same now?
    The first one is fine.

    The second one is ungrammatical and unidiomatic. If you change the tense of the verb and omit "since", it is fine: "I picked up/started smoking last October." :tick:
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    "Pick up" is a one-time action, meaning start. You can't have been doing it continuously either for the past three years or since last October.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I have picked up smoking since last October:cross:
    I started smoking last October:tick:
    I picked up the habit of smoking last October - possible, but old-fashioned use.
     

    Tracer

    Senior Member
    American English
    "Pick up" is a one-time action, meaning start. You can't have been doing it continuously either for the past three years or since last October.
    Yes, that's right. You can smoke continuously from a certain date in the past until today, so you would use the present perfect continuous:
    I've been smoking since last October.

    But you can't "pick up" (meaning "start" or "begin") continuously....that action happened only once in the past, so it's finished. So you have to use the simple past:
    I picked up (started, began) smoking last October (and have been smoking ever since).
     
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