She hasn't had any retching with me since I've been on duty.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by JungKim, Dec 7, 2012.

  1. JungKim Senior Member

    (1) She hasn't had any retching with me since I've been on duty.
    (2) She hasn't had any retching with me since I was on duty.

    In the context, "since" here means "from the time when".
    I think (2) is grammatical.
    My question is if (1) is natural, correct English.
  2. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member

    To me, the first sentence sounds perfectly natural in spoken (British) English. 'Since I have been on duty' implies that the person in question is still on duty.
    I don't like the second sentence, because ' since I was on duty' suggests to me that the speaker is no longer on duty.

    An alternative, and possibly the way that I would have worded it myself (having had time to think about it, rather than speaking spontaneously) would be: She hasn't had any wretching with me since I came on duty.
  3. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    What on earth is retching, or wretching, in such a context? You sound very familiar with the process, Prof; apparently it's a group activity.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  4. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Is this a nurse describing a patient? (It would help to provide context.) If so, the first sentence would be the correct one, if you remove "with me" (as Thomas says, it sounds like a group activity).
  5. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member

    Retching, meaning vomiting. Yes, the nurse is describing a patient - a very famous, royal patient, who happens to be pregnant! (At least that is what I assume it refers to.)
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  6. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    We know what retching means; it was the "with me" that brought us up short! :eek:
  7. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    The dictionary spelling (and in my experience the usual spelling) is retching, with no "w."
  8. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member

    My eyes are playing up, after too long looking the computer screen! It was just a slip of the finger(now corrected), honest! :eek:

    In response to Parla's comment:
    The sentence certainly wouldn't win any prizes, but I find its meaning perfectly clear. The nurse is saying that the patient hasn't had any bouts of vomiting during her (the nurse's) shift. The 'with me' could be interpreted as "while I have been present", or "while I have been on duty". In everyday spoken British English, it's the sort of phraseology that is commonplace, although I certainly wouldn't recommend that those learning English try to copy it.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  9. JungKim Senior Member

    That's what it is. ;)
  10. Beryl from Northallerton Senior Member

    British English
    Thank you JungKim. If you also have the source then we can get on with specifically addressing your question.
  11. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    In that case, there was redundancy in the quoted sentence: ". . . with me since I've been on duty." And it's interesting that Thomas, who speaks BE, also took it as referring to some sort of group activity.
  12. JungKim Senior Member

    I don't know if such tense usage is restricted to "British", but now that you've mentioned it, I can see how "since I was on duty" has that kind of feel to it.

    Now, the remaining question is this:

    The "since" here means "from a time in the past until a later past time, or until now", and therefore it is naturally followed by "a time in the past". [The quote is from ]

    And all the sample sentences in the dictionary have "a time in the past" in since-clauses.

    But when you say "since I've been on duty", does "I've been on duty" represent "a time in the past"??

    If not, I don't know how to reconcile the basic meaning of since and the present prefect tense usage.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  13. JungKim Senior Member

    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  14. The Prof

    The Prof Senior Member


    Actually, I think I have now realized where your problem lies: In the sentence that is using the present perfect, the word 'since' is being used as an alternative to 'while'. Does that help?

    (I hope so, because I feel rather uncomfortable continuing to participate in this discussion given the sad news that has become known since the thread was started. My heart goes out to the family of the nurse in question.)
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  15. KarenRei Senior Member

    American English
    I think the "with me" thing is a British way of saying it. In American English you'd never say "wretching with me" (or "vomiting with me", to use a more common word than wretchng in AE). In American English, you'd simply omit the "with me" as implied, or if you want to be very specific, you'd describe the circumstances ("while I was in the room", for example).

    Anyway, "since I've been" sounds a lot better to my ears than "since I was". But The Prof's suggestion of using "while" sounds much better.
  16. Beryl from Northallerton Senior Member

    British English
    (1) is natural (spoken) English in the sense that it contains several solecisms. I count four, only two of which seem to be causing trouble in this thread.
    The excerpt is also natural English (at least for the UK) in the sense that it would be readily understood by those with a will to understand.

    With regard to your particular question, JungKim, no, (1) is not correct English. As you seem to know, 'since' does not work with this tense. You want either 'whilst' or 'while'.

    Switching to a more appropriate tense for use with 'since' (to obtain (2)) fails to remedy matters as this imposes a new meaning on the sentence.
  17. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    "Since I've been on duty" sounds perfectly natural and correct to me, Beryl.

    To quote from Michael Swan's Practical English Usage:
    Since can be used as a conjunction of time, introducing its own clause. The tense in the since-clause can be perfect or past, depending on the meaning. Compare:
    We visit my parents every week since we bought the car.
    We visit my parents every week since we've had the car.
  18. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Hullo, Loob.

    So there seems to be no need for a Present Perfect — either "Simple" or "Continuous" — for the verb "visit". Food for thought...

  19. Bevj

    Bevj Allegra Moderata

    Girona, Spain
    English (U.K.)
    I agree with Loob that 'since I've been on duty' sounds OK.
    However, I can't imagine anyone ever saying 'She hasn't had any retching with me'. It sounds gross.
    'She hasn't had any spells/episodes of retching.....'
  20. JungKim Senior Member

    Thanks! I've looked it up in Swan.

    Although Swan didn't make it clear the difference in meaning between the two tense uses, I suspect that the present perfect tense use in since-clause is somewhat limited to an informal style. But I'm not so sure.

    In your example, if you're writing a formal text, would you opt for the present perfect tense or the past tense?
    Or would it not matter?
  21. fragile** Member

    Hi Loob,
    Could you please explain the difference in meaning because I can't see any.
    Also, can I say 'We visit my parents every week since we've bought a car' meaning 'because we now have a car'?
  22. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Swan's reference to "meaning" isn't a reference to style or register: he's talking about the substantive difference between eg "... since I've been on duty" and "... since I was on duty".

    Since + present perfect doesn't sound particularly informal to me. I imagine, though, that opportunities to use it in formal texts are few and far between.
    I hope my comment above will answer your "meaning" question, fragile**. As to your second question, yes, we can say since we've bought a car to mean because we have bought a car/because we now have a car. But that's a different topic:).
  23. fragile** Member

    Sorry, still don't see where this substantive difference between 'since we bought the car' and 'since we've had the car' lies :eek: Maybe I just don't see something, but to me, both clauses mean the same thing.
  24. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Because since can have both a temporal meaning and one suggesting causation, it would be inviting ambiguity to place it alongside a time-marker, like every week, when you wanted to employ it to indicate causation.
  25. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Swan isn't talking about the difference in meaning between "since we bought the car" and "since we've had the car". He's saying that after since you choose the present perfect or the past tense depending on which is appropriate for the meaning you want to convey.
  26. JungKim Senior Member

    How about this pair?

    (11) We've known each other since we were practically kids.
    (12) We've known each other since we have been practically kids.

    Are they all possible, correct English?
    Or, do you prefer one over the other?
  27. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Sentence (12) does not make sense to me, but a slightly altered (11) does:

    We've known each other practically ever since we were kids.

    If we were kids, say, fifty years ago, then "(ever) since we were kids" means "(ever) since fifty years ago" = "for fifty years".

    I suppose (12) might make sense if we, say, used to be babies, but ten years ago we became kids. Then "since we have been kids" could mean "since ten years ago" = "for ten years".

    Since is a tricky little conjunction, even if we ignore the fact that it can indicate causation sometimes. "I haven't seen her since I've lived in Wales" has one meaning if I live in Wales now and another meaning if I used to live in Wales from time to time but now live somewhere else.

    But "I haven't seen her since I lived in Wales" (simple past "lived") has only this latter meaning.

    And "since I was on duty" would have only this latter sort of meaning too, quite different from the meaning of "since I have been on duty" that I think was meant.
  28. JungKim Senior Member

    This is perhaps the best answer in this thread, and answered all my questions. :thumbsup:
  29. JungKim Senior Member

    Here's a news script on the same topic:
    "The two Australian radio hosts whose prank phone call to the Duchess of Cambridge's hospital went so wrong are speaking out about it for the first time since a nurse who got caught up in the prank was found dead."
    (Emphasis added.)

    Is it possible to use the present perfect here?
    "...since a nurse who got caught up in the prank has been found dead."
  30. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    No, it isn't.
  31. JungKim Senior Member

    At this point in time, you could either say "she was found dead" or "she has been found dead."
    It's only a matter of aspect.

    Now, could you show me how come it's not possible?
  32. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I'd prefer a different example.
  33. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I disagree that this meaning of "with me" isn't used in AmE. It is sometimes used to mean "while I have been in attendance" or "while I'm around." Examples:
    "He never tries to pull that with me," meaning "He doesn't attempt to get away with a particular undesirable behavior when he's around me."
    "She was restless with me."

    Maybe I'm more familiar with this structure than some because my mother is a nurse?

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