I've been a teacher VS I was a teacher

xiaokyao

Senior Member
chinese
If a person use the two above sentences to introduce himself, what different ideas does he convey ?
My words in my question sounds wierd to my ears.But I hope I made myself clear! Thank you for your time!
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I'd expect to hear "I've been a teacher" together with some phrase about a length of time, xiaokyao: I've been a teacher for twenty years = I started teaching twenty years ago and I am still a teacher now.

    I'd expect to hear "I was a teacher" in the remarks of somebody who was no longer a teacher. Perhaps she stopped teaching and now does something else with her time: I was a teacher when I was younger. Now I sell cars for a living.
     
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    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    If a person use the two above sentences to introduce himself, what different ideas does he convey ?
    My words in my question sounds wierd to my ears.But I hope I made myself clear! Thank you for your time!
    I was beginning to think that no one was ever going to ask a question about the difference between present perfect and past simple. :D

    I have been a teacher. - you are saying this because you now know what it is like to be a teacher. You have the experience. The present relevance of your past experience is what matters, e.g.
    A. Teching is a tough job.
    B. Yeah, I know. I have been a teacher.

    I was a teacher. - you no longer teach and you are probably thinking about when exactly you were a teacher, which is why you are using the past simple.

    In some cases the two tenses can be used almost interchangeably. I think this may be one of those cases.
     

    xiaokyao

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Owlman5 Thank you for you feedback!
    I read a book which explains some special usages of perfect tense rencetly. It makes sense when you drop some phrase about time when you use perfect tense. But it'll give you some different ideas. For instance, John has lived in Paris. That was ten years ago. He is now living in London.
    But I don't understand the difference between perfect tense and past tense in these cases.
    John lived in Paris. That was ten years ago.
    What's the difference?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    You're welcome, xiaokyao.

    If I hear "John has lived in Paris", I expect that remark to have some relevance in the present. Perhaps the speaker means to imply that John knows what good food or beautiful fashion is because he has lived in Paris where those things were common.

    If I hear "John lived in Paris", I don't necessarily assume that this fact has any relevance in the present. Perhaps the speaker is just mentioning one of many things that John did in the past.

    PS I see that Boozer has joined the discussion. :)
     
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    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Here is one perfect example from the BNC that exemplifies some of the differences between the two tenses:

    I've been a soldier myself, I was a soldier a long long time ago and er er training was different in my day to what it is today.

    Note that the first part of the sentence talks about his experience at the moment of speaking. The second one specifies when exactly he was a soldier.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    There have been dozens of prior discussions of present perfect vs. simple past, reachable via the search box at the top of the page.
     

    Yichen

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hello there,
    Re:
    I've been a teacher.

    Without any further context, Is "I" a teacher or not a teacher now?
    Present perfect usually means the completion of an action,so I feel somewhat puzzled.
    It seems to me that verb BE and verb DO can make a difference in Present perfect.
     
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