I've just seen him (pause) A moment ago

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Andry Try

New Member
English - England
Hello everyone,

I am wondering if someone can tell me whether or not the following text is grammatically correct.

I overheard someone on the train as I was heading back home today say:

"I've just seen him" and then he paused and said, "A moment ago".

Now as far as I know you can't use the word "ago" with the present perfect. However, if written (or spoken with a pause) would it be acceptable to say:

I've just seen him. A moment ago.

I've just seen him; well, a moment ago.

Or alternatively, "I've just seen him" and then someone says something in response and you reply with the fragment sentence, "A moment ago".

If the word "ago" is mentioned in a dependent clause or as a separate sentence, is it grammatically correct to use it with the present perfect?

Many thanks everyone.
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Looks fine to me. The "A moment ago" is clarifying the timeframe for "have just" - it wasn't a day ago, or a week ago, or even an hour ago, it was a moment ago. The timeframe for use of present perfect is not restricted to the "nanosecond or attosecond of now" it is a variable concept, and certainly can include a moment ago:)
     
    Last edited:

    Andry Try

    New Member
    English - England
    Looks fine to me. The "A moment ago" is clarifying the timeframe for "have just" - it wasn't a day ago, or a week ago, or even an hour ago, it was a moment ago. The timeframe for use of present perfect is not retricted to the "nanosecond or attosecond of now" it is a variable concept, and certainly can include a moment ago:)
    I am asking because I know that it is not grammatically correct to use the present perfect and the word "ago" in the same clause. For example, it is not grammatically correct to say, "We've been living here since eight years ago". Someone created a thread a few years ago with regards to that sentence:

    We've been living here since about eight years ago

    I have Googled this matter and it seems that it is perfectly acceptable as long as the two are used in independent clauses but unacceptable if in the same clause.

    "I've just seen him/her a moment ago" doesn't look grammatically correct. However, a slight adjustment with punctuation I think fixes the problem grammatically. "I've just seen him. A moment ago." Or, "I've just seen him; a moment ago." Obviously a pause would be required in speech.

    Is that right?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Yes - in the OP you had described a pause, that indicated it was an extension/clarification of the previous sentence. Put them together in the same sentence and you are right. However, if the use of "ago" indicates a specific timepoint (as opposed to a duration) then many in that thread accept something like "I've been in London since two weeks ago" as grammatically correct, although most would say "for two weeks". On the other hand "I've been in London since two Mondays ago" is quite precise and easier to conceive of than "since ten days ago" because it saves you the trouble of calculating what day it was :D My only point is that the rule is not alwys as black and white as it is sometimes portrayed:)
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "I've just seen him" and then he paused and said, "A moment ago".

    Now as far as I know you can't use the word "ago" with the present perfect.
    Although it might make a slight difference if what’s being described has literally only just happened, it’s true that the present perfect doesn’t generally work with the word “ago”, which indicates that something happened in the past:

    I saw him just a moment ago :thumbsup: / I’ve seen him just a moment ago :thumbsdown:

    I had lunch with him a week ago :thumbsup: / I’ve had lunch with him a week ago :cross:
    But I agree that if you introduce a pause between your two statements, and, in writing, indicate it with a dash or semicolon, that’s a different matter and quite acceptable. And as two separate sentences it’s grammatically correct anyway.
     

    Andry Try

    New Member
    English - England
    Thank you for the responses.

    lingobingo, during speech, would a pause be sufficient? The guy said the first part and then said, “A moment ago.”

    However, is it grammatically correct to say, “I’ve just seen him.” Then make a pause and without anyone else saying anything, just say, “A moment ago.”?

    I think that is saying the two separate sentences and thus being grammatically correct.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Thank you for the responses.

    lingobingo, during speech, would a pause be sufficient? The guy said the first part and then said, “A moment ago.”

    However, is it grammatically correct to say, “I’ve just seen him.” Then make a pause and without anyone else saying anything, just say, “A moment ago.”?

    I think that is saying the two separate sentences and thus being grammatically correct.
    That was exactly the question I answered "Yes" to in my post above. If they are separated, it's fine.
     
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