It's been a while since <I've seen, I saw> ...

Ume

Banned
Japanese
<< -- broken link remaoved -- >>
It’s been a while since I’ve seen my parents.

I would say, "It’s been a while since I saw my parents."
 
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  • swyves

    Senior Member
    UK English, Living in Peru
    To me, "saw" would refer to a specific time when you saw them (that time when I saw them was a while ago), whereas "I've seen" would mean just that you haven't seen them in a while, so not referring to the last time you saw them but general seeing of them up until that point.
     

    DavyBCN

    Senior Member
    UK - English
    swyves said:
    To me, "saw" would refer to a specific time when you saw them (that time when I saw them was a while ago), whereas "I've seen" would mean just that you haven't seen them in a while, so not referring to the last time you saw them but general seeing of them up until that point.

    I agree, but probably the main point, as has been seen on many threads, is that BE speakers would use I've seen (present perfect) while AE speakers would use I saw (past simple).
     

    Pixajo

    Member
    France - French
    Oops, you're right Sylph, I was actually taught the same ! :) I guess I would then use the preterit "it's been a while since I saw my parents", but would say "I haven't seen my parents for a while". Would that be correct ?
     

    DavyBCN

    Senior Member
    UK - English
    Sylph said:
    but i was taught to use past tense in the clause beginning with "since".

    I am sorry but whoever taught you that was wrong.

    I have lived in Barcelona since 2004 - present perfect
    I lived in Wales for 10 years - past simple

    Since is normally used in situations which started in the past and contine (in some way) up to the present time.

    I have smoked since I was young
    I smoked for many years.

    Hope this helps
     

    DavyBCN

    Senior Member
    UK - English
    Pixajo said:
    Oops, you're right Sylph, I was actually taught the same ! :) I guess I would then use the preterit "it's been a while since I saw my parents", but would say "I haven't seen my parents for a while". Would that be correct ?

    It's been a while = it has been a while - present perfect tense. The second sentence is also correct.
     

    Sylph

    Senior Member
    Chinese, China
    Yeah, i share the same idea with Pixajo. I know we should say "i have lived in ... since 2004" and the sentence "I lived in Wales for 10 years" is right. I mean the subordinate clause beginning with "since" should be in past tense, not the main clause.
     

    Pixajo

    Member
    France - French
    Exactly, the discussion is around the subordinate clause's tense.

    I gave it some more thought, and I now think (like swyves' above post) that what triggers the tense (of the subordinate clause) is whether it refers to a definite time in the past. Let's take the following examples (assuming they are correct!):

    I haven't seen her since she left London. (she left at some point in time)
    I haven't seen her since she's been in the hospital. (she's still in the hospital)

    How does that sound ?
     

    Sylph

    Senior Member
    Chinese, China
    Your examples seem to make sense. In the second sentence, it seems that we have no other choice than the present perfect tense.
     

    marget

    Senior Member
    DavyBCN said:
    I am sorry but whoever taught you that was wrong.

    I have lived in Barcelona since 2004 - present perfect
    I lived in Wales for 10 years - past simple

    Since is normally used in situations which started in the past simple and contine (in some way) up to the present time.

    I have smoked since I was young
    I smoked for many years.

    Hope this helps

    In your example, you actually use the past simple (I think I say "simple past") tense in the clause that begins with since: I've smoked since I was young.
     

    DavyBCN

    Senior Member
    UK - English
    marget said:
    In your example, you actually use the past simple (I think I say "simple past") tense in the clause that begins with since: I've smoked since I was young.

    I agree that I probably missed the initial point.:) . But another post shows with examples that you can use past simple and the present perfect after since.
     

    marget

    Senior Member
    Very often both the present perfect and the past sound correct, but according to a text I consulted, only the simple past should be used after since. However, there can be a difference between the rules and actual usage.
     

    DavyBCN

    Senior Member
    UK - English
    marget said:
    Very often both the present perfect and the past sound correct, but according to a text I consulted, only the simple past should be used after since. However, there can be a difference between the rules and actual usage.

    As has been discussed in many other threads, the rules on past simple and present perfect usually depend on whether you are a BE or AE speaker.:)
    We really do use them so differently.
     

    marget

    Senior Member
    DavyBCN said:
    As has been discussed in many other threads, the rules on past simple and present perfect usually depend on whether you are a BE or AE speaker.:)
    We really do use them so differently.

    I agree with you and the English as a Second Language Grammar I used was AE.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    DavyBCN

    I don't entirely agree with your definition by trying to differentiate by using for and since. For can also be used with the present perfect. I can say quite correctly. "I've lived in Wales for five years." meaing I still live there.
     

    DavyBCN

    Senior Member
    UK - English
    Porteño said:
    DavyBCN

    I don't entirely agree with your definition by trying to differentiate by using for and since. For can also be used with the present perfect. I can say quite correctly. "I've lived in Wales for five years." meaing I still live there.

    I agree. I wasn't saying for couldn't be used with present perfect, but can see why my examples may have suggested that. Shouldn't have had that extra glass of wine.:eek:
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    This is a complicated subject.

    If I have ever lived in Wales for five years, even if I now live in Scotland, I can say "I have lived in Wales for five years." The present perfect does not imply continuation into the present, but supporting context can certainly suggest it. For example "I have been here for five years" suggests continuity into the present because "here" is where I am now.

    Anyway, if I have lived in Wales for five years and still live there now, then "since I have lived in Wales" means the same as "for five years" in such sentences as "I have not seen her since I have lived in Wales" or "I have been seeing her since I have lived in Wales".

    But "I have seen her since I have lived in Wales" is more likely to mean "I have seen her in the last five years" than "I have seen her for five years."

    More to the point, however, is that if I did live in Wales five years ago but have been living outside Wales for five years, "since I've lived in Wales" means "since five years ago" = "for five years" = "since I (last) lived in Wales".

    What I am saying is that "since I have lived in Wales" can mean either "for the time I have lived in Wales" or "for the time I have not lived in Wales", depending on context.

    And it means "the time during which I have not lived in Wales", with no "for", in contexts like that of this thread's topic sentence. "It's been a while since I've seen my parents" means "It's been a while that I have not seen my parents", or "It has been a while since I (last) saw my parents."

    Notice what negativity does to present perfect. "I have not seen" does not say anything preceded the present: it says my seeing did not precede, and when since means "the time since", present perfect works in this negative sense.

    I hope this makes sense, and I hope it helps.
     

    Tales_fromThe_ViennaWoods

    Senior Member
    Argentinian and European Spanish
    As a non-native speaker, the way I see it is as follows:

    The last time you saw your parents was, say, two weeks ago so that is our reference point. That being said, we could think of this period of time stretching from that specific point (since I saw my parents / two weeks ago) up to the present, thus the unfinished action (or in this case, state) being "it's been a while". In short, I think that "since" gives us a specific time reference: since I graduated / since I was 2 / since I moved out etc therefore a past tense is required.

    I don't think this BrE/AmE difference applies here. Please feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    As a non-native speaker, the way I see it is as follows:

    The last time you saw your parents was, say, two weeks ago so that is our reference point. That being said, we could think of this period of time stretching from that specific point (since I saw my parents / two weeks ago) up to the present, thus the unfinished action (or in this case, state) being "it's been a while". In short, I think that "since" gives us a specific time reference: since I graduated / since I was 2 / since I moved out etc therefore a past tense is required.

    I don't think this BrE/AmE difference applies here. Please feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken.
    Yes, the complement of since is a specific time reference, which makes the past tense most appropriate, but that does not rule out present perfect. Consider the following:

    I have seen them many times, but always at three o'clock on a Monday.

    This can be shortened to:

    I have seen them only at three o'clock on Monday.

    And there we have present perfect with what looks like a specific time reference. In this context, "when I have seen them" means "at three o'clock on Monday", and "since I have seen them" means "(at) some time after three o'clock Monday".

    Unfortunately, "since I have seen them" is ambiguous without that context. It could mean, for example, "during the time after I last saw them", "at some times after those times in which I have seen them", "in the time during which I have seen them", or "due to the fact that I have seen them".
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    And it means "the time during which I have not lived in Wales", with no "for", in contexts like that of this thread's topic sentence. "It's been a while since I've seen my parents" means "It's been a while that I have not seen my parents", or "It has been a while since I (last) saw my parents."

    Notice what negativity does to present perfect. "I have not seen" does not say anything preceded the present: it says my seeing did not precede, and when since means "the time since", present perfect works in this negative sense.

    Dear Forero,

    I noticed that you used "that" in that sentence instead of "since". Is that a standard way to use "that" when the following clause is negated?

    Example:

    "It's almost two months that we have not met."

    Thanks a lot
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Dear Forero,

    I noticed that you used "that" in that sentence instead of "since". Is that a standard way to use "that" when the following clause is negated?

    Example:

    "It's almost two months that we have not met."

    Thanks a lot
    No. This example is a cleft sentence that means that the total time during which we have not met is almost two months. "During which" can be replaced with "that" or left out entirely, and with a slight rearrangement "the total time" can then be replaced by "it".

    "It has been almost two months since we have met" can mean the same thing, but it is ambiguous, with several possible meanings, as I said in #21.

    Another example:

    It has been almost two months so far that we take a walk to the beach every day.

    This last example of essentially the same cleft structure has no negative. It means that the total time during which we take a walk to the beach every day has been almost two months so far.
     
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    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thank you very much, Forero.

    It's so complicated. Actually, I found quite a few more threads about this which made me more confused.

    Does that "no" in the beginning of your post mean the sentence I made is not acceptable?

    Do these sentences mean essentially the same?

    "It's (been) almost two months since we last met."
    "It's (been) almost two months that we have not met."


    Thanks
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Thank you very much, Forero.
    It's so complicated. Actually, I found quite a few more threads about this which made me more confused.
    Does that "no" in the beginning of your post mean the sentence I made is not acceptable?
    Your sentence is acceptable, and the use of that is standard.
    But if remove the word not from your sentence, it becomes a different standard, acceptable sentence. The sentence with not and the sentence without not have different meanings.
    Do these sentences mean essentially the same?
    "It's (been) almost two months since we last met."
    "It's (been) almost two months that we have not met."
    Thanks
    Yes, assuming you are talking about these last two sentences (following your last question) only. They represent different ways of looking at the same situation.

    And the following two sentences have essentially the other meaning:

    "It's (been) almost two months since we started meeting."
    "It's (been) almost two months that we have been meeting."

    The ambiguous sentence, "It's (been) almost two months since we have met", can have either of these meanings. It can mean either "It's (been) almost two months that we have not met" or "It's (been) almost two months that we have met."
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think in British English It's been almost two months since we have met would be ambiguous too, but maybe in a different way; it could mean either of these, in my view:

    1. This is our first meeting since we met two months ago.
    2. We haven't met since two months ago (and we're not meeting now, implied).
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I think in British English It's been almost two months since we have met would be ambiguous too, but maybe in a different way; it could mean either of these, in my view:

    1. This is our first meeting since we met two months ago.
    2. We haven't met since two months ago (and we're not meeting now, implied).
    For me, the present perfect is about a time period ending at the present moment, so I have counted both of these as one meaning (= "We have not met since we met two months ago"). To split this into your two meanings, I need more context. For example:

    1. Prognosticator on stage with a person he met two months before: Please verify for the audience that we have not met since we met two months ago.
    2. Prognosticator on the phone with a person in another city: Please verify for the audience that we have not met since we met two months ago.

    But two months during which we have met, as opposed to two months during which we have not met, is quite a different meaning. "A while since I've seen my parents" is very likely confined to the one meaning (that I have not seen my parents at all in the past (most recent) two months), but since "seen" could (conceivably) mean "been seeing", the other meaning (that I have seen my parents for the past two months) is (remotely) possible too.
     
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    Sylph

    Senior Member
    Chinese, China
    This is a complicated subject.

    If I have ever lived in Wales for five years, even if I now live in Scotland, I can say "I have lived in Wales for five years." The present perfect does not imply continuation into the present, but supporting context can certainly suggest it. For example "I have been here for five years" suggests continuity into the present because "here" is where I am now.

    Anyway, if I have lived in Wales for five years and still live there now, then "since I have lived in Wales" means the same as "for five years" in such sentences as "I have not seen her since I have lived in Wales" or "I have been seeing her since I have lived in Wales".

    But "I have seen her since I have lived in Wales" is more likely to mean "I have seen her in the last five years" than "I have seen her for five years."

    More to the point, however, is that if I did live in Wales five years ago but have been living outside Wales for five years, "since I've lived in Wales" means "since five years ago" = "for five years" = "since I (last) lived in Wales".

    What I am saying is that "since I have lived in Wales" can mean either "for the time I have lived in Wales" or "for the time I have not lived in Wales", depending on context.

    And it means "the time during which I have not lived in Wales", with no "for", in contexts like that of this thread's topic sentence. "It's been a while since I've seen my parents" means "It's been a while that I have not seen my parents", or "It has been a while since I (last) saw my parents."

    Notice what negativity does to present perfect. "I have not seen" does not say anything preceded the present: it says my seeing did not precede, and when since means "the time since", present perfect works in this negative sense.

    I hope this makes sense, and I hope it helps.

    Hi, Forero, you said, 'If I have ever lived in Wales for five years, even if I now live in Scotland, I can say "I have lived in Wales for five years." ', which I'm afraid I cannot agree.

    According to English grammer books, the present perfect tense is associated with the present (e.g., for something that started in the past and continues in the present; for something we have done several times in the past and continue to do; when we are talking about our experience up to the present; for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking ...).

    Therefore, in the case you described (lived in Wales before, but now live in Scotland), the simple past seems to be more acceptable. That is to say, we should say "I lived in Wales for five years".
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Hi, Forero, you said, 'If I have ever lived in Wales for five years, even if I now live in Scotland, I can say "I have lived in Wales for five years." ', which I'm afraid I cannot agree.

    According to English grammer books, the present perfect tense is associated with the present (e.g., for something that started in the past and continues in the present; for something we have done several times in the past and continue to do; when we are talking about our experience up to the present; for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking ...).

    Therefore, in the case you described (lived in Wales before, but now live in Scotland), the simple past seems to be more acceptable. That is to say, we should say "I lived in Wales for five years".

    I lived in Wales for five years. :tick: (Period of time with a beginning, middle, and end.)
    I have lived in Wales. :tick: (Something which affects you today. You are still living in Wales.)
    I have been living in Wales for five years. :tick: (And still am.)

    "You never stay anywhere for very long. The longest you've ever lived anywhere is a couple of years!

    I have lived in Wales for five years."
    (It's something you possess, that affects you today. Not a normal case. Just go for the basic meaning.)

    But "did live" would also work.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Hi, Forero, you said, 'If I have ever lived in Wales for five years, even if I now live in Scotland, I can say "I have lived in Wales for five years." ', which I'm afraid I cannot agree.

    According to English grammer books, the present perfect tense is associated with the present (e.g., for something that started in the past and continues in the present; for something we have done several times in the past and continue to do; when we are talking about our experience up to the present; for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking ...).

    Therefore, in the case you described (lived in Wales before, but now live in Scotland), the simple past seems to be more acceptable. That is to say, we should say "I lived in Wales for five years".
    I stand by my statement. "For five years" does not have to be "for the most recent five years", and the present perfect is a valid way to summarize experience.

    I can even say, for example, "I have lived in Wales for five years, in England for two, and in Ireland for one, but now I live in Scotland." And in fact, since this is a summary, the five years in Wales may not have been consecutive.
     
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