have been there a few years ago

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sunyaer, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. sunyaer Senior Member

    Self-made sentence:

    Today in a news talk about travelling on the radio, I heard a native saying:

    "I have been there a few years ago."

    Is this sentence correct? Text books say that simple past tense rather than perfect tense should be used in a sentence with a specific past time adverb.
  2. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    It's not very good style, but it's just about acceptable.

    The idea is (probably) I have been there: which means I have visited that place; in the perfect because the experience is still with me; plus a few years ago: simple adverbial phrase of time, explaining when this happened to me.

    But it may also be influenced by I've been there (done that, got the T-shirt) which is such a cliché that it doesn't follow the usual rules, and is only found in the perfect
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  3. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    It is the sort of thing you hear in spoken English. Once a speaker has started she cannot go back and rephrase when she wants to pop in additional information. It is not unusual to end up with grammar that is not quite what you would use in a written context.
  4. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    It feels much more acceptable if the speaker made any sort of pause, however short, between "there" and "a few ...." and used appropriate intonation to make it clear that he intends these as two separate clauses, instead of one statement. It could then be written like this: "I have been there - a few years ago".

    It's even more acceptable if it's the answer to a question phrased like this:
    Q: "I don't think you've been to xyz, have you?"
    A: "I have been there... a few years ago." (Have would be stressed)

    This sounds like one of those statements where the way it is spoken - intonation, phrasing and pauses - could be as significant in conveying the meaning as the words that were used.
  5. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    It is not necessary to use dots to indicate a pause. Any punctuation which allows a fresh thought will suffice.
    'I have been there: a few years ago'.

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