present perfect + for/since

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by DearPrudence, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod (AL mod)

    French (lower Normandy)
    Hello :)

    Here is question that has been bugging me for some time, as it's often a source of confusion.

    Roughly, in English, with the expression of time "for/since", we use the present perfect, a compound tense. I can’t remember seeing this in any other language so far (but I don’t know many of them admittedly!). A couple of examples:

    I've known him for 3 years.
    I’ve lived here for 3 years / since 2008.

    In French:
    Je le connais depuis 3 ans. (simple present).
    J’habite ici depuis 3 ans / depuis 2008. (simple present)

    And it's the same in Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch I think.

    What tense do you have in your language?

    Thank you :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2011
  2. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Swedish uses past aswell. Litteral translation below

    Jag har kännt honom i tre år.

    I have known him in three years.

    Also, I believe this is the case for all Germanic languages, including German and Dutch...
  3. Maroseika Moderator

    Is it really past in Germanic? Isn't it pure present? Something like "I am having him as-known".
    Unlike as in "I have known him 3 years ago" or "I knew him 3 years ago".
  4. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    Finnish: Olen tuntenut hänet kolme vuotta (kolmen vuoden ajan).

    I have known him three years (for three years' time).
  5. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Hm, I'm not sure of what you are saying here exactly, but I am quite confident that Germanic does indeed use past here. We use a lot of compound tenses and, confusingly for you as Russian speaker (having future as the only compound tense), is the fact that the future tense can be expressed by the present (or by a composite form) and hence, the present is never (well, there are exceptions...) used for the past. The incorrect English phrase I know him for three years* gives a feeling of contradiction, at least it does to me: has the speaker known him or will the speaker know him for three years? I realize that speakers of other languages might not get this feeling, especially since I believe this to be a fairly common error (from Russian/Slavic speakers in particular?) (no offense :))). The Swedish translation of that latter English line would be Jag känner honom i tre år (which is truly present, indicated by the present suffix -Vr) and sounds like the speaker states his/her intention to know someone for three years.
    Also, the distinction between I have known him for three years and I knew him three years ago is also made identically to English, the latter being translated to Jag kände honom för tre år sedan. (With the simple past suffix -de/-te).

    Oh well, in short, I'm quite confident that this could indeed be considered to be past, since a literal translation from Romance/Slavic would be ungrammatical (if even comprehensible). If nothing else, Swedish is identical to English in this matter, so if the above English is considered past, well, then Swedish should too...

    Also, on a completely different note (please don't kill me, mods): as a Russian learner, I analyzed the phrase Как дела? as Как (у вас (есть)) дела? and as such, the verb to be быть (which obviously is the standard assumption when no verb is to be found) rather than идти. Was this just an incorrect assumption, or could it be interpreted that way as well?

    Thanks in advance :)
  6. Orlin Banned

    Насколько я знаю, это время в германских языках называется перфектом и означает прошлые действия/состояния, имеющие отношение к настоящему, и поэтому оно близко по форме и значению к англ. Present perfect.
  7. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Точно! Спасибо Орлин.
  8. ilocas2 Senior Member


    znám ho už 3 roky - present tense
  9. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    English, UK
    German would have Ich habe ihn vor drei Jahren kennengelernt (lit. I (have) got to know him three years ago) or
    Ich kenne ihn seit drei Jahren (lit. I know him since three years), answering the question: Seit wie lange kennst du ihn? (lit. Since how long do you know him?)

    In any case have known, the English Present Perfect, isn't purely a past tense, as its action continues into or at least is stressing the effects or results in the present: compare he has taken poison with he took poison, which have quite different degrees of urgency.
  10. Maroseika Moderator

    In fact it can be understood dualy: as shortened "Как идут ваши дела?" or "Как обстоят ваши дела". The latter of course has to do with "to be" rather than the former.
  11. Maroseika Moderator

    This is exactly what I meant: I have now something made before. I have him now (Present) already (Past) known for 3 years.
  12. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Ahh, now I see your point. Technically, you are correct, but, as Orlin pointed out, this is indeed the compound construction that we use and it's separate from the simple tense (as described in my previous post). Although, it could be debated whether this is really past, but it is treated as such by our scholars.
    Maybe the deciding factor is that a independent verb form is used, rather than the infinitive, which is the case for the compound future tense.

    Thanks for the explanation!
  13. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    Yes, in German we use the present:

    "Ich kenne ihn seit 3 Jahren."
    "Ich lebe hier seit 3 Jahren."

    If an action started in the past and is still true now, we use present.
  14. Tjahzi

    Tjahzi Senior Member

    Umeå, Sweden
    Swedish (Göteborg)
    Oh, in fact. The construction presented by Frank, present with an adverb, can be used in Swedish as well - Jag känner honom sedan tre år. Despite the fact that the meaning is identical, the compound construction is preferred. Which should be the case for English to...right?
  15. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    It's either "Seit wann kennst du ihn?" (lit.: Since when do you know him) or "Wie lange kennst du ihn?" (How long do you know him?)
  16. Black4blue

    Black4blue Senior Member

    Onu 3 yıldır tanıyorum. (I am knowing him/her for 3 years.)
    Onu 3 yıldır tanırım. (I know him/her for 3 years.)
  17. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    In English we have a three-way distinction:

    I lived here for three years.
    = I used to live here. It was for three years.

    I have lived here for three years.
    = Three years have past since I came here.

    I live here for three years.
    = My plan has me living here for three years. (At least part of the three years is in the future.)

    But in some languages present perfect (almost) equates to past:

    Je l'ai connu depuis trois ans.
    I have known knew him for three years.

    Je le connais depuis trois ans.
    I know him, and it has been three years so far.
  18. jazyk Senior Member

    Brno, Česká republika
    Brazílie, portugalština
    As in French, we use the "present simple" in Portuguese: Moro aqui há 3 anos. Moro aqui desde 2008. But note that, unlike French, we have for for and desde for since.
  19. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek:

    «Ζω εδώ τρία χρόνια»
    /zo e'ðo 'tria 'xroŋa/
    "I live here three years"
    «Μένω εδώ τρία χρόνια»
    /meno e'ðo 'tria 'xroŋa/
    "I reside here three years"
    «Ζω εδώ απ'το 2008»
    /zo e'ðo apto 2008/
    "I live here since 2008"
    «Μένω εδώ απ'το 2008»
    "I reside here since 2008"

    Present (Greek does not make dinstiction between simple/perfect present and continuous) + time period
    Present + since [add year here]
  20. Orlin Banned

    Present is used in Slavic languages:
    Bulgarian: Аз живея тук (от/вече) 3 години.
    Russian: Я живу здесь (уже) 3 года.
    Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian: Ja živim ovd(j)e (već) 3 godine.
  21. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    magyar: Present Tense

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