past or past perfect tense?

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sierra_st.

Member
Turkish
At one time, huge prehistoric reptiles dominated the earth. This Age of Dinosaurs ....... (last)much longer than the present Age of Mammals has lasted to date.

When I saw the question,the answer must be 'had lasted' but the answer is 'lasted'.Using this exaple or something else, could someone explain to me why we use past for long term state.

I hope I'm clear (about) what I want to know.

Is this prep necessarry in this sentence?
 
  • Zio Gilito

    Senior Member
    Español - España
    "We have been in the Age of Mammals for let's say 60 millons years. The previous era lasted for 200 millions."
    The current action has not finished yet, but the Age of Dinosaurs had. We use past simple, then, to speak about moments in the past which has finished, but we use past perfect to talk about an action which had happened before another action (that we mentioned) in the past (which "passed away")
    I hope it's clearer...
     

    duoyu

    Senior Member
    English- US, Spanish- Puerto Rico
    I hope I'm clear about what I want to know.:tick:

    Is this prep necessarry in this sentence? YES
    I agree with Zio; the past perfect describes events or states that precede some other past event, and in the sentence above there is only one past event or period (Age of Dinosaurs), while the other is a present one (Age of Mammals)
     

    e174043

    Senior Member
    Turkish,Azerbaijani
    Here the reason that the simple past is used is that you/we don't know how long the age of dinosaurs lasted, but we know that how long the age of mammals has lasted. It's from the past to date.

    There is no time difference between the past and the present perfect. Let me give an example;
    I didn't know what he's done last 2 years in the UK.
     

    duoyu

    Senior Member
    English- US, Spanish- Puerto Rico
    Well, when you are making a comparison between something in the past and something in the present, such as in your sentence above about the different eras/ages, you would use the past for the first one and either the present or present perfect for the second.

    She has written more books than John ever wrote. (Up until now, she has written more than John, and maybe will continue to write; John, on the other hand, is either a dead writer to whom "she" is compared, or he no longer writes).

    My brother has less problems in school than I had when I was his age. (Comparing my past with my brother's present situation).
    ALSO
    My brother has had less problems in school than I had when I was his age. (Up until now, he has had less problems, but he may yet have more)

    Now, if there is some general rule that dictates all usage of past with present perfect, I can't say I am aware of it.

    I hope this helps
     

    MilkyBarKid

    Senior Member
    British English
    Look at this sentence:
    "He lived in that house."
    compare
    "He lived in that house all his life."

    The first has no time frame, yet the same tense, Simple Past, is also used in the second, which does - 'all his life'.

    Past tense merely states a FACT, referring to an action/event prior to NOW, as I speak. The idea of 'how long/for what period of time' is not conveyed/not relevant.
    If I say, "My first car was red", the idea of 'how long was it red for?', or 'when did it stop being red?' seems ridiculous/irrelevant: I'm simply stating the colour of the car.

    We add time elements and phrases, then, SPECIFICALLY to indicate for how long a Past Tense fact was 'true'.
    "He lived there as a child."
    "He briefly resided in London, before returning to Rome."

    If I say, "He suffered a lot in prison." and "He endured his pain without complaining", both times I am simply stating a FACT : he suffered/he didn't suffer - he endured (or didn't).
    So, in your sentence, the Age of Dinosaurs lasted/endured (and then the time element/time phrase) much longer...than..."
     
    Last edited:

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    ______age of dynosaurs_____________________________________Ø______________>
    age of mammals
    to date
    P A S T PRESENT PERFECT

    All the best.
    GS
     

    e174043

    Senior Member
    Turkish,Azerbaijani
    ______age of dynosaurs_____________________________________Ø______________>
    age of mammals
    to date
    PAST PERFECT

    All the best.
    GS
    I'm not sure whether I understood what you want to imply, but if you are saying that the tense should be past perfect, you're wrong.
    In this sentence the writer is not mentioning or implying the time difference. There is a comparison.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Dear Sierra and e174043,
    I made two attempts to represent graphically the reason why there are these two tenses in the same sentence—both attemps were unsuccessful because the format changed in passing from my version to the final message.
    The idea is: "age of dynos" is a period of time separate from Ø (NOW) (Past Simple). "age of mammals" is another period which starts at a certain point in-between and reaches the point Ø (Present Perfect).
    Regards.
    GS
     
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