My sister was able to speak fluently when she was two ...

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yasir_ahmad

Member
Indonesian - English
I find this;
My sister was able to speak fluently when she was two years old.
I wonder why it uses Simple Past Tense.
My question is, why not using Present Perfect Tense?

Why not, "My sister has been able to speak fluently since she was two years old"?

Here is the complete dialogue;

Question 7:
Man: My sister was able to speak fluently when she was two years old.
Woman: ....
a. Okay. Don't mention it.
b. Really? That's amazing.
c. Oh, wait a minute.
d. Don't bother. I'll pick her up soon.
It is stated in the ANSWER KEY that the best answer is (b).

(Source: Eudia Grace . Th M. Sudarwati . Sri Muryati, TOPS TUNTAS OLAH PAKET SOAL Siap UN BAHASA INGGRIS SMA, PENERBIT ERLANGGA)
 
  • chamyto

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    It´s in Past simple , because it´s a finished action ( we assume it´s a long time since she was 2 years old ).
     
    Last edited:

    yasir_ahmad

    Member
    Indonesian - English
    It´s in Past simple , because it´s a finished action ( we assume it´s along time since she was 2 years old ).
    But I wonder why not using Present Perfect Tense, because her ability to speak fluently has begun since she was two years old and it does not stop until then.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    If you want to emphasize the fact that she began speaking fluently when she was two and still speaks fluently, you could say: My sister has been speaking fluently since she was two years old.

    However, your listener or reader will probably assume that she still speaks fluently. Using the simple past to note a remarkable event that occurred in the past is certainly not wrong: My sister was able to speak fluently when she was two years old.

    The present perfect doesn't add anything useful if the speaker only wishes to mention the sister's ability at one point in the past. Once again, the information that she can still speak well isn't really surprising. So using the present perfect to make that clear isn't necessary.
     
    Last edited:

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Welcome to the forum, Yasir_Ahmad.

    The sentence in "Question 7" is not about the present but the past. It is an amazing fact regardless of whether she kept the ability or lost it later.
     
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