had been / has been blocking traffic.

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Phoebe1200

Senior Member
Russian-Russia
This discussion has been split off from: The yacht righted itself...?
Cagey, moderator.

"They have just uprighted the overturned big-rig that had been blocking traffic on I-380 eastbound since 6 am and traffic is beginning to move again through the two lanes that are now open".
Hello.
If you could please explain to me why is past perfect continuous used in your example instead of present perfect continuous.
They have just uprighted the overturned big-rig that has been blocking traffic on I-380 eastbound since 6 am and traffic is beginning to move again through the two lanes that are now open.
 
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  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Because at the time of the report, it was no longer blocking traffic. There are three time points - the start of the blocking, the end of the blocking and, later, the reporting. If I said "It has been blocking traffic for three hours" that would mean it is still blocking (in the present moment - hence the name present perfect).
     
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    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Because at the time of the report, it was no longer blocking traffic.
    It's the word "just" that makes me think the reporting was happening within minutes or even seconds of the workers uprighting the rig, so it was very close in time. :confused:
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    It's the word "just" that makes me think the reporting was happening within minutes or even seconds of the workers uprighting the rig, so it was very close in time. :confused:
    The time interval between using present and past perfect is quite vague and can be very short or quite long, depending on the speaker's perception of how long "the present instant" is. (It can be days to milliseconds:D) Similarly "just" is vague, depending on the context.

    For a traffic reporter, if he were to say "has been blocking traffic" it is very likely that listeners hearing only part of the broadcast would think it was still blocking traffic - bad idea for a reporter to consider the "present instant" to be that long and misleading the listener!
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    So if the rig was being uprighted at the moment of the live broadcast it would be "has been blocking traffic"?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    So if the rig was being uprighted at the moment of the live broadcast it would be "has been blocking traffic"?
    Probably - although clear communication about the traffic and whether or not it is able to pass through will be more important that verb tense:D "It has been blocking traffic for hours but it is being uprighted as we report to you. We expect traffic to be able to get through in at least one lane within 15 minutes" etc. Note the distinction between simply uprighting and unblocking:D
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    How about past continuous?
    They have just uprighted the overturned big-rig that was blocking traffic on I-380 eastbound since 6 am and traffic is beginning to move again through the two lanes that are now open.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    In my world, the use of "since 6 a.m. ..." is what triggers the need for "had been blocking". Others might be OK with "which was blocking traffic since 6 a.m."
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Hi. Please tell me if I understood this correctly.

    The workers have already uprighted the rig and got it out of the way, so it's no longer blocking the street and although the reporter is announcing it now, she simply states a fact by using present perfect, but the action of the workers actually uprighting the rig is already a past action even though it might have happened seconds ago. So this makes it a past action (second past action to be exact) and therefore the blocking part is the first past action and that's why it's in the past perfect.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Hi. Please tell me if I understood this correctly.

    The workers have already uprighted the rig and got it out of the way, so it's no longer blocking the street and although the reporter is announcing it now, she simply states a fact by using present perfect, but the action of the workers actually uprighting the rig is already a past action even though it might have happened seconds ago. So this makes it a past action (second past action to be exact) and therefore the blocking part is the first past action and that's why it's in the past perfect.
    If you are paraphrasing post #2 above, then I agree with you:D
     
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