past simple and present perfect

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Anakis

Member
Italian
Hi, a couple of weeks ago I bought an advanced grammar book so that I could study some grammar rules more in depth, so far everything I've studied has been rather easy to understand, except for this :

"We use the present perfect in the time clause if the two situations described in the main clause and time clause extend until the present.

Example:

Have you met any of your neighbors since you've lived here? (not ... you lived)"

At first I thought.. "It's obvious that the situations described extend until the present because there is the word "here" at the end of the time clause."

Then I started going through some exercise and I read this:

"Since she has worked at the company she hasn't had a day off through illness"

I thought to myself.. "What? Why didn't they use the past simple in the time clause ( worked) instead of using the present perfect ( has worked )?"

Is there anyone here who can help me figure this out?

P.S.

I hope this stuff makes sense.
 
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  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    What would this sentence mean:

    Since she worked at the company, she hasn't had a day of sickness."
    I may be wrong, but to me it means that she once worked at the company, then she quit and since that day she has not had a day of sickness :D But I'm not sure.

    So probably it does not mean what the textbook author had in mind.

    I can only say that old grammar books did not contain examples of such uses (as described by Anakis). Maybe they were once considered ungrammatical.

    Anakis, if you want to make this sentence work in the usual way, you have to pick a verb describing action that occurs once, e.g. "join". Such an action would give you a precise point in the past and would make the use of present perfect "perfectly" acceptable :)

    Since she joined the company, she's not had a day of sickness.
     

    MilkyBarKid

    Senior Member
    British English
    boozer:I may be wrong, but to me it means that she once worked at the company, then she quit and since that day she has not had a day of sickness:tick:

    <...working......>|<....not working for them.........>NOW.........................
    ....................... <not a day sick since she stopped working there..................

    where " | " is the instant she ceased to work for that company
    Anakis:
    Can you see that the Simple Past tense places 'worked' as a finished event, in the past, remote and separate from the person's current life.

    compare

    "Since she has worked at the company she hasn't had a day off through illness"

    .......|S|<.....working for them.................................................>NOW
    ........... <...........................not a day off sick...........................>NOW

    where |S| is the day she started working there.

    The Present Perfect looks back from the moment of speaking, NOW, to some point in the past.
     
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    Anakis

    Member
    Italian
    I think I got it now, but anyway, here's another sentence :

    "Nearly 600 laptops have been stolen from Ministry of Defence staff over the past five years. However, a spokesperson insisted that there had been no security problems as none of the computers held secret information."

    basically the guy who wrote this stuff is trying to say that now that the computers have been stolen there are going to be security problems, Am I right?
     

    bluegiraffe

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think I got it now, but anyway, here's another sentence :

    "Nearly 600 laptops have been stolen from Ministry of Defence staff over the past five years. However, a spokesperson insisted that there had been no security problems as none of the computers held secret information."

    basically the guy who wrote this stuff is trying to say that now that the computers have been stolen there are going to be security problems, Am I right?
    No, they are saying that although the computers were stolen, there is no security risk associated with the data on the computers as they didn't have any secret information on them.
     

    Anakis

    Member
    Italian
    No, they are saying that although the computers were stolen, there is no security risk associated with the data on the computers as they didn't have any secret information on them.
    What I don't understand is: Why did they use the present perfect in the first sentence instead of the past simple?

    :

    "Nearly 600 laptops have been stolen from Ministry of Defence staff over the past five years"


    Why didn't they say: "Nearly 600 laptops WERE stolen from Ministry of Defence staff over the past five years". ?
     

    MilkyBarKid

    Senior Member
    British English
    OK. They were stolen. Either the police recovered them or they didn't. Yesterday's news. This is today.

    But hang on.......what if there is secret information on those computers?

    Now ....now it becomes relevant, still relevant to what might happen now, and in the future, now that this secret information is in the hands of potential enemies. This is not some 'done and dusted' Past Tense fact, finished, over. The effects of these computers having been stolen could be serious.

    I look back and link what has happened over a period of time to NOW, and what the consequences for today, and possibly the future, might be.

    "I had a mohawk. Now I have a crop." - two separate facts.

    "I have had a mohawk for years, but now people are laughing at me, so I am going to change it to a crop." - I look back with affection for my hairstyle, over the years I loved it and thought it looked cool, but because of the reaction of people now, I decide to change. I link the past with the present.

    (Sentiments and facts given in examples are not necessarily those of and true of the writer. This is the Internet. I am also a millionaire playboy.)
     
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    Anakis

    Member
    Italian
    OK. They were stolen. Either the police recovered them or they didn't. Yesterday's news. This is today.

    But hang on.......what if there is secret information on those computers?

    Now ....now it becomes relevant, still relevant to what might happen now, and in the future, now that this secret information is in the hands of potential enemies. This is not some 'done and dusted' Past Tense fact, finished, over. The effects of these computers having been stolen could be serious.

    I look back and link what has happened over a period of time to NOW, and what the consequences for today, and possibly the future, might be.

    "I had a mohawk. Now I have a crop." - two separate facts.

    "I have had a mohawk for years, but now people are laughing at me, so I am going to change it to a crop." - I look back with affection for my hairstyle, over the years I loved it and thought it looked cool, but because of the reaction of people now, I decide to change. I link the past with the present.

    (Sentiments and facts given in examples are not necessarily those of and true of the writer. This is the Internet. I am also a millionaire playboy.)
    Ok.
     
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