have been/were

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Phoebe1200, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. Phoebe1200

    Phoebe1200 Senior Member

    Russian-Russia
    Kids Choice Awards show
    Context: At the end of the show the host says this to the audience.

    All right. You guys have been/were in control of the show all night. Now it's my turn.


    I couldn't make out which one he used. I think it should be "have been" but for some reason "were" doesn't sound wrong to me either.
     
  2. Retired-teacher Senior Member

    British English
    I think "have been" is more appropriate if the show is still running. "Were" is more appropriate after it has finished.
     
  3. Phoebe1200

    Phoebe1200 Senior Member

    Russian-Russia
    Thank you very much.:)
     
  4. ironman2012 Senior Member

    Chinese
    Is it also appropriate to say "are" if the show is still running?
    You guys are in control of the show all night. Now it's my turn.
     
  5. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    That'd be an acknowledgment or a statement that those people are going to control the show all night. The next sentence, "Now it's my turn" would be contradictory.

    Compare: You are going to keep sitting in this chair. Now I'm going to sit on it.
     
  6. ironman2012 Senior Member

    Chinese
    When the show is still running:
    Present perfect tense (have been) implies until now you are in control. After "now" you may or may not be in control. So there is a possibility I may take my turn.
    Simple present (are) implies you always control it. There is no possibility that I take my turn.
    Right?
     
  7. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    Yes, that sounds all right.

    Not necessarily.
    You are in control of the show. But from 9 pm, I'll take over.

    The OP's sentence however has the words "all night". So saying "You are in control all night" implies that there's no chance of anyone else taking over control.
     
  8. ironman2012 Senior Member

    Chinese
    Why doesn't it possibly imply "You are in control of the show all night. But from 9 pm, I'll take over"? Because with "all night",

    At a charity memorial concert for Diana in 2007, Prince William opened a six-hour show and returned to the stage at the end of Sir Elton's final set, saying "For us this has been the most perfect way to remember her, and this is how she would want to be remembered."
    1. “has been” implies there is a possibility a more perfect one than this may occur in the future.
    2. "this is": there is no time phrase like "all night", so this is the most perfect way, but maybe tomorrow or next year there will be a more perfect one than this. So "this is" is also acceptable here, is it?
     
  9. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    No, he didn't mean there might be a more perfect one in the future. He just meant that it was the most perfect way to remember her. "Has been" was used because it'd just got over - it started in the (immediate) past (a few hours earlier) and continued till the present moment (the moment of speaking).

    This is the most perfect way. Again, this isn't a reference to the possibility that there might be a more perfect way. This is just a statement of fact. If he wanted to express the same idea a couple of months later, he'd say: That concert was the most perfect way to remember her.
     
  10. ironman2012 Senior Member

    Chinese
    Prince William returned to the stage at the end of Sir Elton's final set, saying "this has been the most perfect way". Can I understand this way:
    1. Both "this has been" and "this is" don't refer to there might be a more perfect one in the future.
    2. He returned to the stage at the end of Sir Elton's final set saying "this has been", because he thought the concert had just finished.
    3. If he thought the concert was still going on, though at the end of it; or he returned to the stage in the middle of the concert and made those comments, "this is" was used. If yes, is there implication that the rest of the concert are going to be perfect?

    In the #1 example, suppose the show was planned to start at 6 pm and end at 10 pm.
    In the middle of the show (e.g. 8 pm), the host said "You are in control of the show. But from 9 pm, I'll take over."
    Why? All I can imagine is with "all night" added, it means the show almost finished (because if finished, "were" or "have been" are used); the moment of the speaking must be at the end of the show (e.g. 9:55 pm, or 9:58 pm), because it is obvious that at 9:55 pm or 9:58 pm there's no chance of anyone else taking over control and at the same time the show is still running.
     
  11. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    Yes to both.
    He could have used either "This is" or "This has been". There'd be no particular implication that the rest of the concert will be perfect. It's a reference to the concert as a whole.
    Possible.
    Not necessarily. I can imagine this being said at the beginning of the show. You are in control all night = You are (going to be) in control all night.
     
  12. ironman2012 Senior Member

    Chinese
    I understand this now. "You are" = "you are going to".
    But in "this is the most perfect way", why does "this is" not mean "this is going to"?
     
  13. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    Are you trying to draw a comparison between "This is the most perfect way" and "You are in control all night"?

    The sentence "You are in control" refers to an activity that'll last through the duration of the concert. "This is the most perfect way" just refers to the concert, which for the purpose of this sentence is taken as a single thing.

    This is the most perfect way to remember her.
    If he was saying this a few days before the concert and he was confident that it would turn out perfect, he might say this to mean "This is (going to be) the most perfect way".
     
  14. ironman2012 Senior Member

    Chinese
    May I ask how to distinguish an activity (though "are" is used in "you are in control") and a single thing? Is there a general rule? Or it is difficult to explain.
     
  15. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British English
    Are you asking about the difference between 'you are' and 'it is'?
     
  16. ironman2012 Senior Member

    Chinese
    No. I want to know how to distinguish an activity and a single thing, because I think this leads to different understanding of "This is the most perfect way" and "You are in control all night".
     
  17. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British English
    Does it help to think of 'you are in control' as 'you are controlling' or 'you control'? Those are 'dynamic' verb forms showing activity. We don't know if 'you are' refers to one person or a number of people.

    The concert was an event. Is that what you mean by 'a single thing'?
    'You are in control' means now at the time of speaking, or it can refer to the future 'going to be in control' for whatever period of time.
    'You have been' can only be said as that period of time comes to an end and somebody else, or nobody, takes over control. 'You have been' could be said immediately after the period of time has ended but using 'were' would be appropriate too at that point and 'were' has to be used when the period of time is firmly in the past.

    The same tense considerations apply to talking about an event (or events).
    The main difference is that the verb 'to be + complement' has no element of 'activity', it's about 'state'.
     
  18. ironman2012 Senior Member

    Chinese
    I'm not sure.
    This complies with "That'd be an acknowledgment or a statement that those people are going to control the show all night." in #5. (The example "You are in control of the show").
    But in #11, for the the example "this is the most perfect way to remember her", "He could have used either "This is" or "This has been". There'd be no particular implication that the rest of the concert will be perfect."
     
  19. Barque Senior Member

    India
    Tamil
    I used those words to try and differentiate between the sentences in #13. It ultimately depends on context and on what is being talked about.

    Note that in statements made in public, by a public personality, a lot of things are said for effect, to convey emotion and feeling along with the meaning of the words themselves. So when William said "This has been the most perfect way to remember her", I doubt he'd consciously compared it with other ways Diana's family had tried to remember her. He meant "This has been an excellent/wonderful way of remembering her." I wouldn't take such sentences too literally. Note that this would be true of any language.
     

Share This Page

Loading...