I <have> studied German for two years, but then I quit.

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Ivan_I

Banned
Russian
If I want to mention something from the past without any "pre-conversation" which tense is better:

After a silence...
1 By the way, Jane. I studied German for two years but then I quit.
2 By the way, Jane. I have studied German for two years but then I quit.
or
1 By the way, Jane. I worked as a sales manager for two years but then I quit.
2 By the way, Jane. I have worked as a sales manager for two years but then I quit.
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don’t see what “out of the blue” has to do with it? What makes the past tense essential is the fact that you’re clearly talking about something that ended in the past. The situation/action did not continue to the present, therefore the present perfect is inappropriate.
     

    Ivan_I

    Banned
    Russian
    I don’t see what “out of the blue” has to do with it? What makes the past tense essential is the fact that you’re clearly talking about something that ended in the past. The situation/action did not continue to the present, therefore the present perfect is inappropriate.
    Well, I think these are OK.
    I have been married before. (I am single now)
    I have lived in Paris for two years. (I don't live in Paris now.)

    I remember coming across these examples but don't remember where I read them.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    “I have been married before” is still true, whenever you say it (you will never stop having been married before). That constitutes relevance in the present.

    “I have lived in Paris for two years” heavily implies that you still live there now. If you don’t live there now, you should use the past tense (if you want to sound like a native English-speaker).
     

    Ivan_I

    Banned
    Russian
    “I have been married before” is still true, whenever you say it (you will never stop having been married before). That constitutes relevance in the present.
    We can say the same about anything that happened in the past.
    I have studied German for two years but then I quit. (I can't stop having been studying it before).

    “I have lived in Paris for two years” heavily implies that you still live there now. If you don’t live there now, you should use the past tense (if you want to sound like a native English-speaker).
    But "two years" can be any years. Right? It heavily implies that I still live there now, but not as heavy as “I have lived in Paris for the last two years”.
     

    BLUEGLAZE

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I have lived in Paris for X number of years.
    I still live there (whether it was from the age of one or twenty one).

    Adding 'for the last number of years' specifies when it started bringing it to the present.
     
    Last edited:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    We can say the same about anything that happened in the past.
    I have studied German for two years but then I quit. (I can't stop having been studying it before).
    But here there is no connection with the present. That’s why the present perfect is wrong.

    “I have been married before” is your present status. “I studied German for two years but then quit” is a past action.
     

    AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    We can say the same about anything that happened in the past.
    I have studied German for two years but then I quit. :cross:
    The word "before" is critical to the marriage sentence. This one works: I have studied German before.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    As soon as a finished period of past time is mentioned or strongly implied the simple past must be used. That's a 'rule'.
    Talking about one's life experiences in general (with no specified finished past periods) the present perfect can be used, so long as you are still alive.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    As soon as a finished period of past time is mentioned or strongly implied the simple past must be used. That's a 'rule'.
    Talking about one's life experiences in general (with no specified finished past periods) the present perfect can be used, so long as you are still alive.
    :thumbsup: Nicely put!
     

    Nickle Sydney

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I'd definately go for the past perfect or the past perfect continuous in those sentences. The present perfect doesn't work at all. The past simple sounds OK but I would not use it.
     
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