How long haven’t you eaten?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Pepa123, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Hi,

    I´d like to ask whether questions with "how long" can or cannot be used with negative present perfect.

    How long haven´t you eaten?
    How long haven´t you visited your parents?

    Thank you very much!
     
  2. Chez Senior Member

    London
    English English
    In both of these you need 'for' at the beginning:

    For how long haven't you eaten?
    For how long haven't you visited your parents?

    Then they are fine.
     
  3. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    I don’t find either of those constructions natural, although using a perfect tense is fine.

    We would normally ask: How long is it since you have [done whatever]?
     
  4. KsuKrazy Member

    Russian
    Would it be a better phrasing to say "When was the last time you ate?" or "How long is it since you ate?"
     
  5. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    When precludes the use of the present perfect in this context, but the sentence is fine.

    The other “since” version is fine too (though I would expect “since you last ate?”).
     
  6. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Thanks, lingobingo! ;-)

    1) So you wouldn´t agree with Chez that "For how long haven´t you eaten?" would be fine?

    2) I don´t understand why it should be: How long is it since you have eaten? :-(

    It would make more sense to me like this: How long has it been since you ate?

    Because "you ate" is a point in the past and between then and now there is the duration which (always) uses the present perfect "it has been" ... like in a positive sentence "I´ve been married for 10 years. It´s been two hours since he came". Could you help me with/on this, please?
     
  7. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Thanks Chez.

    Do you suppose adding "for" just because they´re negative sentences or should I use "for" also in positive ones?

    How long have you studied English?
    For how long have you studied English?
     
  8. KsuKrazy Member

    Russian
    I was in a hurry and left out "last" in the sentence. Sure, it should be"How long is it since you last ate?"
     
  9. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    After since, the present perfect would be the most natural verb tense to use in British English. It relates the question or statement directly to the time of speaking, referring to what has happened or been the case up to that moment: You look half-starved. How long is it since you’ve eaten anything?

    American Engish usage is different. It’s entirely likely that the simple past would be more normal in AE.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  10. KsuKrazy Member

    Russian
    "For" is placed at the beginning in formal speech or writing. In everyday conversations prepositions are usually placed at the end of questions.
     
  11. KsuKrazy Member

    Russian
    Sure, that's right. The difference is your sentence doesn't contain "last" therefore it seems to me that Simple Past is more appropriate.

    Is there any difference between "How long is it since you've eaten anything?" and "How long has it been since you've eaten anything?" ?
     
  12. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    My thoughts were very similar, though I would have added "last", and used the past tense.

    How long has it been since you last ate?
     
  13. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    The point Chez was making was that without "for" the sentences are ungrammatical. With "for" they are grammatical.

    The point lingo was making is that even when you make them grammatical, it doesn't make them natural. There are far more natural ways in everyday English to ask those questions. There are actually many natural ways (as discussed above), but those original two are not among them.
     
  14. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Thanks, I understand what you´re saying. But as I´m trying to learn a proper use of present perfect, I always try to find a rule which I could apply to all similar cases.

    1) Well ... is there a difference between positive and negative sentences? Are these grammatical?:

    For how long have you been here?
    For how long haven´t you been at work?

    And these ungrammatical?:

    How long have you been here? (I thought this was grammatically correct without "for")
    How long haven´t you been at work?

    2) then there are several ways to same the same, but I don´t understand how they can differ so much in tenses:

    lingo: How long IS IT since you HAVE EATEN?
    ksu: How long IS IT since you last ATE?
    pacard: How long HAS IT BEEN since you last ATE?

    It confuses me that you can use either IS or HAS BEEN in the first part and either HAVE EATEN or ATE in the second and it always means the same ... it´s hard to find "a rule" there :-/ ...
     
  15. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    If I try to change your question "How long is it since you have eaten?" into a positive sentence, it should probably be:

    It is 2 hours since I have eaten.

    Am I right? Would this really be correct?

    Because I was taught that ...

    I haven´t smoked since 2010.
    (= since announces a moment in the past and "haven´t smoked" makes "not smoking" connected with the present - present perfect tense).

    I have loved U2 since I bought their first album.
    (= since announces a moment in the past and "have loved" makes "loving U2" connected with the present - present perfect tense).

    It has been 2 hours since I ate.
    (= since announces a moment in the past and "has been" makes "the time duration between then and now" connected with the present - present perfect tense).

    From what you and pacard wrote I´d now think:

    It has been 2 hours since I ate. - AE - to me this seems logical next to the other 2 examples using since ...
    It is 2 hours since I have eaten. - BrE

    If it is so, the british version confuses me a little because I was also told that whenever something happened in the past and was once finished (I finished the eating some time ago, exactly 2 hours ago) there must be "past tense", not "present perfect". Now I doubt there´s such a rule ...
     
  16. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    Yes, although that’s by no means the only way of expressing it.

    I haven’t eaten for two hours, but this poor guy hasn’t eaten for two days. :tick:

    I haven’t eaten for two hours, but it’s two days since this poor guy has eaten. :tick:

    It’s two hours since I’ve eaten, but two days since this poor guy has. :tick:
     
  17. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Thanks, Packard. I see it the same way. Would you agree with lingo that the following sentence is also correct?

    Can "has eaten" be put into the past (= it happened and was finished before two days and the action has no connection with present)? I´ve always thought it can´t. How do you see it? Do / Can Americans use it this way? Thanks!
     
  18. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    I don’t really understand what you mean by this. The sentence is in the present tense. It can easily be written in the past tense.

    I haven’t eaten for two hours, but it’s two days since this poor guy has eaten.

    I hadn’t eaten for two hours, but it was two days since that poor guy had eaten.​
     
  19. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    The only difference between my reply and Lingo’s is I prefer to add the seemingly superfluous “last”.
     
  20. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Lingo, would it be correct to say?:

    I have eaten yesterday.
     
  21. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    'I have eaten yesterday' sounds wrong to me, but you haven't given any context. In what situation might you say it?
     
  22. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Packard: How long HAS it BEEN (present perfect) since you last ATE (past simple)?
    Lingo: How long IS it (present simple) since you HAVE EATEN (present perfect)?

    Probably I´m still missing something because I see more differences between them than just "last" :-/ ... principally the tenses used ...
     
  23. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    Last only really works with the simple aspect — when someone last ate.

    You said in #5:
    I don´t understand why it should be: How long is it since you have eaten? :-(
    It would make more sense to me like this: How long has it been since you ate?​

    What don’t you understand? Those are two sides of the same coin. Both use the perfect aspect‚ but only once, since it’s unnecessary to use it twice. The difference is that in one it’s used in the main clause and in the other it’s used in the subordinate clause.
     
  24. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Well, I was taught that present perfect "have eaten" must be use when there´s a clear connection with "present".

    I´ve eaten. (= I am not hungry NOW).

    And that whenever I speak about an action that was finished in the past and has no influence on present situation, I have to use "past tense".

    I ate 2 hours ago.
    I ate yesterday.

    Therefore I struggle to understand why it´s correct to say:

    It´s two days since the poor guy has eaten.
    (= The guy ate 2 days ago. I don´t see any connection between "his eating" and present / "now" so I don´t understand why to use "present perfect" and not simple past).

    If it´s correct to say:

    The guy has eaten 2 days ago.
    I have last eaten yesterday.

    ... then I´ve found a new situation when present perfect can be used without having to have a connection with present / "now" and can just reffer to a MOMENT in the past.

    This would be new to me.

    But if I can´t say:

    The guy has eaten 2 days ago.

    It´s hard to understand why I can say:

    It´s two days since the poor guy has eaten.

    ... because both of them speak about a moment in the past ...
     
  25. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Because I see each clause as an individual with their own logic and I don´t think I can put "perfect" aspect in either of them.

    I have liked U2 since I bought their first album.
    I like(d) U2 since I have bought their first album. - This wouldn´t work, would it?

    I think that I probably wasn´t told the complete truth when my teacher told me that "present perfect" (HAVE EATEN) cannot be used to reffer to a moment in the past ...
     
  26. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    I would write (in that version):
    It´s been two days since the poor guy has eaten.

    It's connected to the present because the clock is still ticking. Tomorrow it will be three days since he has eaten.
     
  27. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    The use of simple tenses is straightforward. It’s only the perfect aspect you’re having trouble with, as do most English learners.

    In general, perfect tenses are not used with a specific time or date, unless that time or date is current:

    He cycled to work all last week :tick: · He has cycled to work all last week :cross:

    He cycled to work today :tick: · He has cycled to work today :tick:
    But the present perfect version only applies from the perspective of where he left, not where he arrives, and when the journey is still in progress:

    The car’s still in the garage. Hasn’t Dad gone to work? — Yes, but he’s gone in by bike today :tick:

    I can’t see X’s car in the car park. Isn’t he in today? — Yes, but he’s come to work by bike today :thumbsdown: … he came to work by bike today :tick:

    There are other usages in which a perfect tense can be used with a specific time or date:

    Have you ever gone skinny-dipping at midnight? — My brother has. He did it for a dare when he was at college.

    I have visited my father’s grave on Christmas Day every year since his death.​

    As for the construction you find so odd, it doesn’t state a specific time at which the guy ate. What it does state is the length of time between his last meal and now — which is very clearly a connection with the present. That works fine with the present perfect, as do various other constructions that use time-related words such as already (before now/by now), just (in the immediate past), until (up to now) and, especially in negatives and questions, still (even now) and yet (up to now).

    It’s two days since the poor guy has eaten :tick: = Two days have passed since he last ate​
     
  28. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Well, as I see it, connected to the present is not "eating in the past" but the extending time (= clock still clicking) between then and now and therefore there´s present perfect in "It has been ... 2/3/4 days since ... ".

    I have lived here since 2010.
    I have lived here since (it was) 2010.
    I have lived here since it has been 2010 ??? - I don´t think "has been" would work here ... (and it seems to me like a very similar context)
     
  29. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    Please write the equivalent sentence using the "has eaten" example. I don't see a similarity.
     
  30. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Thanks for your patience and help. I´ve finally found it. It´s probably not so much about "present perfect" itself but about the way "since" can be used.

    Since - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionary

    "When since introduces an action or event at a point of time in the past, we can use the past simple or present perfect after since and the present perfect in the main clause" ...
     
  31. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    London
    English - England
    It has just occurred to me that although the original examples don’t work with the present perfect, they do work with the present perfect progressive (even though they’re not great examples of that either):

    How long haven’t you eaten? :cross: · How long have you not been eating? :tick:
    How long haven’t you visited your parents? :cross: · How long have you not been visiting your parents? :tick:
     
  32. london calling Senior Member

    SALERNO, ITALY
    UK ENGLISH
    You can't use the present perfect with completed actions ('yesterday' indicates a completed action).
     
  33. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Ok, thanks. I probably understand how it should work in a question ...

    How long is it / has it been since you last ate / have eaten? - the best
    How long have you not been eating? - possible

    But what about negative sentences?

    I haven´t eaten for 2 days. - ok?
    I haven´t been eating for 2 days. - ok?

    Or do I have to use the same structure as in the question?:

    It is / has been 2 days since I last ate / have eaten.
     
  34. kentix

    kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    I haven´t eaten for 2 days. - ok?:thumbsup:

    The following only makes sense if they are on a fast and have made a decision not to eat.
    I haven´t been eating for 2 days. - ok?
     
  35. Pepa123 Senior Member

    Czech - the Czech Republic
    Thank you!

    And if I want to make a survey, can I ask the following question?:

    Who of you hasn´t eaten for the longest time?
     

Share This Page

Loading...