EN: Have you cried/been crying?

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by DUDAYSABRAS, Dec 13, 2012.



    I just would like to confirm the following:

    Your eyes are red - .......................??

    a) did you cry b) have you been crying c) have you cried d) do you cry

    To me b) is obvious but could we also consider c)??

  2. tedgale Senior Member

    Have you been crying? Were you crying?

    OK. Thanks, but why couldn´t we choose "Have you cried"??
  4. tedgale Senior Member

    It simply is not the usual idiomatic expression.

    If I must find a reason based on grammar, I would say that the simple past suggests a discrete historical event of limited duration - whereas we assume the crying has been of extended duration and has continued to the very recent past.
  5. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Comme on constate que la personne a les yeux rouges, elle a dû pleurer assez longtemps pour que ça se voie. On utilise donc le present perfect continuous comme l'a bien expliqué Tedgale.

    Un des contextes où le present perfect simple se justifierait serait le suivant :

    Have you often cried as an adult?
  6. Le Penseur

    Le Penseur Senior Member

    Adding to what the others have said above me, it depends on when you're talking about, as in every language.

    Did you cry last week?
    Have you cried since you broke up?
    (Maître Capello's example, too, works grammatically, but I can't imagine a natural way to say that. Note that it changes when you shift it back, since the period discussed is altered and no longer about the present in general - see the example just below)
    Did you cry often as a child?

    However, if you're just seeing someone with red eyes, for instance, and want to ask them if they have just cried/been crying, you would say Have you been crying? Were you crying? also works, as does Did you just cry?, although both of these sound a bit more accusatory than the first ("Have you been crying?" is quite neutral, bordering on sympathetic depending on tone).
  7. Tochka Senior Member

    I agree with just about everything Le Penseur has said, except that I would put "were you crying?" in the same category as "have you been crying?" as being appropriately sympathetic--depending on tone of voice, of course. Also, "did you just cry?" really doesn't sound to me like something a native speaker would ever say. Besides the fact that crying usually occurs over an extended time, not suited to the simple past, there is the additional problem that using the simple past risks the word "cry" being taken to mean "crier" rather than "pleurer", since the meaning of "cry" as in "cry out" is more likely to be a short single event than is the act of crying.
  8. Le Penseur

    Le Penseur Senior Member

    No, I do agree with you, Tochka. It's all dependent on tone, of course, when it comes to "Were you crying?" It's the "just" that perhaps stresses more of an accusation: "were you just crying", "did you just cry" - and on the latter, sure, I wouldn't ordinarily say it, but it's not unnatural either to my ears in more of a break up-esque scenario (or maybe "did you just start to cry/crying?" in a menacing tone).

    In terms of confusion in understanding (over its meaning of crier versus pleurer, I think it's safe to say it's all readily comprehensible from the context. I can't imagine a situation where it wouldn't be the case, although I see your point.

    Thank you everybody! You all helped me a lot.

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