Proper Usage? Lost


New Member
A friend insists the following is incorrect:

I knew it wasn't posted

He says proper English usage would be: I have known

I'm really confused! I am almost certain he's completely wrong. Just this morning he said, "I have watched it on the news last night" in reply to a comment. Please remind me that this is nonsensical, I'm beginning to doubt my own sanity!
  • arorab13

    New Member
    USA, English
    Haha. Don't worry, you're not losing your mind. It makes much more sense to say, "I knew it wasn't posted." "I have known it wasn't posted" just doesn't sound right. Also, it would be "I watched it on the news last night." Good luck in persuading your friend ;)

    -Arora Borealis


    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi All,

    We may have stepped into another AE/BE difference. Let's wait for a BE speaker to respond.

    Canada is special, I'm guessing some regions are more suseptible to AE influence. :D


    Senior Member
    USA English
    Some people like to think that the more words it takes to say something, the more "proper" it is, but this is really just a question of two different but valid aspects of English verbs. If your friend thinks he's so smart, a cursory explanation of verbal aspect ought to shut him right up. :D

    Aspect is a property of verbs that indicates the duration or completion of the action. For instance:
    - I watched it on the news. has a Simple aspect; it merely describes a definite and completed action.

    - I was watching it on the news. Here, even though we're still in the Past tense, the action is portrayed in the Progressive aspect as an ongoing process that the speaker was in the middle of.

    - I had watched it on the news. This is a Perfect aspect. Notice how it conveys a bit more information than the Simple, placing a completed action 'further' in the past or making it sound 'more' complete.

    Your friend seems to prefer the Perfect aspect in the Present tense:
    I have watched it on the news.
    This is where the line between tense and aspect tends to get a little blurry and confusing. The aspect signifies a completed action, but the present tense of "have" conveys another level of continuity or 'ongoing-ness' on top of everything.

    The extra shades of temporal information expressed by the Present Perfect are subtle, but surely recognizable to English speakers. I don't see how it can be considered some sort of scholarly substitute for the Past Simple. Each has a distinct and equally valid place in the English verb system.


    Senior Member
    Here's the BE version:
    I knew it wasn't posted
    I watched it on the news last night.

    I guess it isn't much different from AE


    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    You are right, JohnK. Non-native speakers of English, in particular Germans, often use the "I have known" form because that is the form used in German for talking about things in the past. If your freind insists that this is correct, then, as Kevman noted, he is probably one of those people who think that if one word is good, two words is better.


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Another BE voice supporting JohnK's opinion.
    The unknown person with the alternative view would sound non-native, or plain wrong, to me.

    Ask him to find a reference source that supports his opinion.
    Here is one that supports yours:
    You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with specific time expressions such as: yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was a child, when I lived in Japan, at that moment, that day, one day, etc.


    Senior Member
    English (Canada)
    Though largely similar to AmE, CaE does has some slight differences. I don't think that is one of them, however. You could say either of these:

    1) I knew it wasn't posted.
    2) I knew it hasn't been posted.

    1. This suggests a single action that has already completed. You would likely be referring to a specific post in this sentence.

    2. This suggests an action that may have been repeated several times in the past and that may be continuing in the present. In the case of a topic, it is understood to mean you've posted a topic that you know hasn't been posted before.


    Senior Member
    'm really confused! I am almost certain he's completely wrong. Just this morning he said, "I have watched it on the news last night" in reply to a comment. Please remind me that this is nonsensical, I'm beginning to doubt my own sanity!
    Ask your friend to join this forum as he/she sounds no less opinionated than the rest of us here.


    Senior Member
    America / English
    Hi John K,

    Since you're in Canada, your friend might be Québecois (or have a Québecois parent), or spent a lot of time around them, and since French uses the passé composé where English uses the simple past, that might be why it "sounds" right to him to say, "I have known ..."

    But of course we all know he's wrong, unless he means to say, "I have known since yesterday that it wasn't posted."


    Senior Member
    English (Canada)
    I would agree that some French Canadians tend to use an English vocabulary and language syntax that is adopted from French. That could well be the case here, but as a native speaker of English, that sentence would sound very unnatural.


    Senior Member
    America / English
    I believe this is the first post I've seen where everybody is in unanimous agreement! Please invite your friend to join the forum, so we can give him a drubbing (but a very friendly drubbing!)
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