simple present perfect +in the past

Shooting Stars

Senior Member
Chinese
Counterfeiting has dogged the manuka honey industry in the past, resulting in awarning from Britain's Food Standards Agency two years ago on the misleading and illegal claims made on the labels of manuka honey jars.(http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20150828-the-golden-elixir-worth-more-than-gold)

Usually the phrase "in the past" takes the simple past tense. Can it take the simple present perfect?
Can "has dogged" be replaced by "dogged"/ "used to dog" without changing the meaning of the whole sentence?

Thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Usually the phrase "in the past" takes the simple past tense.
    (i) Who told you that? (ii) I don't think it is true (unless you can say what "usually" means.)
    Can it take the simple present perfect?
    Yes. "Usually" does not mean "always". The simple present perfect is often (but not always) used when the situation has stopped or is about to be stopped.
    Can "has dogged" be replaced by "dogged"/ "used to dog" without changing the meaning of the whole sentence?
    No, see below.
    1. Counterfeiting had dogged the manuka honey industry in the past, but now it no longer does.
    2. Counterfeiting used to dog the manuka honey industry in the past, but now it no longer does or it is about to be stopped.
    3. Counterfeiting has dogged the manuka honey industry in the past, but now it no longer does or it is about to be stopped.
    4. Counterfeiting dogged the manuka honey industry in the past, but now it no longer does.
     
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    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The present perfect can be used in this piece because it does not refer to a specific, defined period in the past. There is no need to change the tense. If the same thing happened intermittently in the past, the present perfect is appropriate; from this piece we get a suggestion that counterfeiting occurred repeatedly.

    "Used to dog" would suggest a continuous problem, not an intermittent one. In any case, we wouldn't say "used to dog [.....] in the past" because "in the past" is implied by "used to".
     
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    Shooting Stars

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    The present perfect can be used in this piece because it does not refer to a specific, defined period in the past.
    Although prime ministers have answered questions in parliament for centuries, until the 1880s questions to the prime minister were treated the same as questions to other Ministers of the Crown: asked without notice, on days when ministers were available in whatever order MPs rose to ask them.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_Minister's_Questions)

    In this sentence, a specific, defined period in the past (until 1880s) is given, can the present perfect (have answered) still be used?

    Thank you.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Well, that part of the sentence reads: "Although prime ministers have answered questions in parliament for centuries" - which counts as a period of time starting hundreds of years ago and leading right up until the present day. So the perfect tense (have answered) is used quite correctly there.

    The second part "until the 1880s questions to the prime minister were treated the same as questions to other Ministers of the Crown" describes a period of time ending at a specific point (the 1880s) and therefore that verb (were treated) is the simple past tense.
     

    Shooting Stars

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you. I understand now. Until the 1880s has nothing to do with the first part and is an adverb phrase of the second part indicating when questions to the prime minister ended. These two parts are independent.

    Thank you again.
     
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