I have lived in Sapporo for eleven years. I lived in Venice before.

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Brigitte_anna

Senior Member
Russian
Hi!

Let's suppose that Jessica is telling us about her:

My name is Jessica. I'm married. I have lived in Sapporo for eleven years. I lived in Venice before that.

Is this example correct? I suppose it is.

I've been told a lot of times that the usage of the present perfect draws attention to the present consequences of the past action (as opposed to its actual occurrence) and implies a strong relevance to the present.

But in the example above both the simple past "lived" (in Venice) and the present perfect "have lived" (in Sapporo) must have the same level of relevance. And they both either draw attention to the present consequences of the past action (as opposed to its actual occurrence) or not.

So how can it be? I'm being confused a little.
 
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  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The present perfect with a time period means that the thing has been true during all that time up until the present. This is a very specific use of the present perfect distinct from its "relevance to the present" use, and she cannot use any other tense without changing the meaning, or losing part of it at any rate. The past tense by implication excludes the present, strongly suggesting (in this case) that she no longer lives there, and the present tense cannot be used to look back into the past for her to say how long she has been living in Sapporo.

    She could have said (without a time period) "I have lived in Venice", as this is part of her current history, but she would only do so if there was some relevance to the present, such as someone else having just been talking about living in Venice, or she was just about to talk about it herself, or if it has some bearing on her being the person she is now. If she is just relating something that happened in her past (as appears to be the case here), she should use the simple past tense. In any case, it would be odd to use the present perfect in consecutive clauses for both living in Sapporo and having lived in Venice.

    Note that the "relevance to the present" usage of the present perfect is used far less in AmE than in BrE. Both AmE and BrE use the "period of time up till the present" usage.
     
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    Brigitte_anna

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The simple answer is yes (although I probably would have said "before that"). I don't quite follow your objections to it.
    Thank you for your notice about "that".

    I don't object to it.
    The present perfect implies relevance, the simple past doesn't.
    The present perfect draws attention to the consequences, the simple past doesn't.
    But the example uses (employs) verbs identically, both verb forms must have the same characteristics, properties, implied meaning - just because they perform the same function of describing some actions, events in her life. Neither sentence (have lived in Sapporo or lived in Venice) is more important or relevant than the other.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The present perfect draws attention to the consequences, the simple past doesn't.
    But the example uses (employs) verbs identically, both verb forms must have the same characteristics, properties, implied meaning - just because they perform the same function of describing some actions, events in her life. Neither sentence (have lived in Sapporo or lived in Venice) is more important, relevant than the other.
    This is just mumbo-jumbo to me, but you seem to forget that in English, the imperfect is expressed by what looks like the simple past

    In this case, "lived" means "I used to live."

    This site might help you. Imperfect tense - Revision 1 - GCSE German - BBC Bitesize
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Thank you for your notice about "that".

    I don't object to it.
    The present perfect implies relevance, the simple past doesn't.
    The present perfect draws attention to the consequences, the simple past doesn't.
    But the example uses (employs) verbs identically, both verb forms must have the same characteristics, properties, implied meaning - just because they perform the same function of describing some actions, events in her life. Neither sentence (have lived in Sapporo or lived in Venice) is more important, relevant than the other.
    The function of the verb forms is as follows:

    "I have lived in Sapporo for eleven years" tells us that she began to live in Sapporo eleven years ago and still lives there now. (It's possible that she is about to leave; we don't know or care.)

    "I lived in Venice before that" tells us that she spent an unspecified period of time living in Venice, ending eleven years ago. We would not say "I have lived in Venice before that," although we might say "I have (also) lived in Venice."
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    So it is completely correct to say

    Jessica has lived in Venice.

    despite the fact that she currently doesn't live in Venice? Right?
    Yes, if you don't specify a time frame. Jessica has lived in Venice (i.e., in the past), so she was able to tell me all the best places to visit.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    So it is completely correct to say

    Jessica has lived in Venice.

    despite the fact that she currently doesn't live in Venice? Right?
    It is in BrE, but you need a particular reason to use the present perfect, relating to the present, as I said in post #4. You cannot use the present perfect just because you feel like it.
     

    romsterson

    Member
    Slovak
    How about past perfect here:
    My name is Jessica. I'm married. I have lived in Sapporo for eleven years. I had lived in Venice before that.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    How about past perfect here:
    My name is Jessica. I'm married. I have lived in Sapporo for eleven years. I had lived in Venice before that.
    It does not work. Like the present perfect, the past perfect needs a reason to be used; you cannot use it just because you feel like it.

    The past perfect can only be used in a sentence set in the past, which is not the case in your sentence: the previous clause ("I have lived...") is in the present perfect, which is always set in the present.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You could conceivably say "I lived [simple past] in Sapporo for eleven years. I had lived [past perfect] in Venice before that." But that doesn't tell us where you've been living lately.
     
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