Since 2007 he teaches [since + present simple]

Denominator

Member
Polish
Is it possible and appropriate to use 'since' in a present simple sentence?

e. g. Since 2007 he teaches at school.

instead of:

Since 2007 he has been teaching at school.

Are both sentences ok? I've come across sentences similar to the 1st one on English web pages...
Which sounds more, you know, English?... :)
 
  • benjo788

    Senior Member
    English - London
    I'd sooner say 'Since 2007 he has taught at school' or 'Since 2007 he has been teaching at school' than say the first sentence. I don't think the first one is correct at all.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I don't like the first one either. To me, "Since 2007..." means "From 2007 onwards..." - you are therefore describing a period of time so "He teaches .. " doesn't work

    There is a combination of senses possible : Before 2007 he taught every weekday at college; since 2007 he only teaches three days a week.
     
    I'd sooner say 'Since 2007 he has taught at school' or 'Since 2007 he has been teaching at school' than say the first sentence. I don't think the first one is correct at all.
    "Has taught" means that one has already finished teaching there and Present Perfect just indicates some present result due to the past fact/action

    "Has been teaching" means that they are still working there

    Am I right?
     

    benjo788

    Senior Member
    English - London
    "Has taught" means that one has already finished teaching there and Present Perfect just indicates some present result due to the past fact/action

    "Has been teaching" means that they are still working there

    Am I right?
    Yeah, I think you're right :)
     
    Thanks!!! One more question regarding this subject. Imagine, I have forgotten Present Perfect Simple and Present Perfect Continuous. We have understood after discussion, that Present Simple is totally wrong:

    Since 2007 he teaches at school :cross:

    But how about Present Continuous:

    Since 2007 he is teaching at school?

    Is it possible in any context?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think "has taught (and continues to do so)" and "has been teaching" mean the same and do not imply a cessation. "Since 2007 he taught.." does seem to imply cessation either by changing locations after that teaching job or due to death or retirement etc.

    The context can affect the "has taught" example above!
    Introducing a speaker at a symposium: " He was educated at XYZ university and finished postgraduate work in 2006. Since 2007 he has taught at several different institutes. On the lighter side, since 2007 he has eaten the same kind of sandwich for lunch every day." One has cessations, while the other is continuing.
     
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    luli_km1

    New Member
    Spanish-Uruguay
    I would say:

    He teaches at our school since 2007
    or
    He's been teaching at our school since 2007
     

    Denominator

    Member
    Polish
    There is a combination of senses possible : Before 2007 he taught every weekday at college; since 2007 he only teaches three days a week.
    Which means that you CAN say 'Since 2007 he teaches at school' (even if the sentence is deprived of context)? Meaning 'he teaches now, but he didn't before'?
     

    Denominator

    Member
    Polish
    Dimitry,

    How about this then?

    Before 2007 he taught every weekday at college; since 2007 he only teaches three days a week.

    I'm convinced there must be other instances in which it IS possible to use the combination in question. There must be a reason, it couldn't be a mere lack of education ;D
     
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    Dimitry,

    How about this then?




    I'm convinced there must be other instances in which it IS possible to use the combination in question. There must be a reason, it couldn't be a mear lack of education ;D
    Frankly speaking, I find this example strange. But since it has been suggested by a native, I am not entitled to argue. The only thing I can say is that it contradicts classical English Grammar which I was taught at the University. But sometimes in all languages Tenses are tricky - maybe this is one of such examples.
     
    I would say:

    "Before 2007 he taught every weekday at college; Now/At present/At the present time he only teaches/is teaching three days a week".

    Again I must repeat that this is my view. The example may be tricky.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I would say:

    "Before 2007 he taught every weekday at college; Now/At present/At the present time he only teaches/is teaching three days a week".

    Again I must repeat that this is my view. The example may be tricky.
    Indeed, a little tricky.

    "Before 2007 he taught every weekday at college; now, and in fact, since 2007, he only teaches three days a week."

    was the sense I intended to illustrate with a continuing activity that was initiated back then.
     
    Indeed, a little tricky.

    "Before 2007 he taught every weekday at college; now, and in fact, since 2007, he only teaches three days a week."

    was the sense I intended to illustrate with a continuing activity that was initiated back then.
    If so, we, I think, can also say "Before 2007 he taught every weekday at college; now, and in fact, since 2007, he is only teaching three days a week." Present Continuous used instead of Present Simple implies that the job is temporary and might be changed in the nearest future.
     

    Mattterhorn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I have another example, it is a song: I believe in miracles since you came along.
    According to grammar, we should use present perfect when expressing an action that started in the past but continues in the present: I've believed in miracles since you came along.
    Might it be that BELIEVE is not an action but a kind of state?
    Thanks
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Might it be that BELIEVE is not an action but a kind of state?
    It would be more accurate to say, as is often pointed out in this forum, that song lyrics are not a reliable guide to grammar.

    You have neglected to provide the source of the line you quoted. I presume it is "You Sexy Thing," by Errol Brown and Tony WIlson.
     

    Mattterhorn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Yes, that's the one, could you please confirm if my proposal is 'more' correct? I've believed in miracles since you came along.
    Thanks!
     

    Katerina BE1

    New Member
    Russian
    Can we use 'since' in some atypical ways if we want to sound more interesting?
    For example once I was told:
    'Since the wine is flowing, I've got a question.' (The person was obviously drinking some at that moment. Maybe it was 'the wine was flowing', don't remember already )
    Or when saying playfully:
    'Since when are you so cocky?'
    'Since the acoustics of your room is in my favour, I'll have a party here'
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Can we use 'since' in some atypical ways if we want to sound more interesting?
    For example once I was told:
    'Since the wine is flowing, I've got a question.' (The person was obviously drinking some at that moment. Maybe it was 'the wine was flowing', don't remember already )
    Or when saying playfully:
    'Since when are you so cocky?'
    'Since the acoustics of your room is in my favour, I'll have a party here'
    These are not 'atypical ways': they are perfectly normal. I suggest you check the dictionary definition of 'since' and previous threads about it.;)
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi KBE1, the tense "problems" discussed previously with "since" relate only to the use of "since" in its temporal sense, referring to time. "Since" in the sense of "because", "given that", "in view of the fact that" isn't bound by those tense rules. Your "since when + present tense" construction, particularly, is highly idiomatic and doesn't really refer to time.

    "Since when are you so cocky?" will usually mean "Oh, I'm surprised that you're so cocky, I didn't know you were a cocky person!". The answer will not be "since 2 o'clock last Tuesday". In fact it is a rhetorical question and does not require an answer at all.

    "Oh, I see you're wearing a tutu. Since when are you a ballerina?" = I didn't know you were a ballerina, I've never seen you wearing a tutu before.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi KBE1, the tense "problems" discussed previously with "since" relate only to the use of "since" in its temporal sense, referring to time. (...)
    "Since when are you so cocky?" will usually mean "Oh, I'm surprised that you're so cocky, I didn't know you were a cocky person!". The answer will not be "since 2 o'clock last Tuesday". In fact it is a rhetorical question and does not require an answer at all.

    "Oh, I see you're wearing a tutu. Since when are you a ballerina?" = I didn't know you were a ballerina, I've never seen you wearing a tutu before.
    So, "Since when have you been so cocky?" has a completely different meaning and asks for the length of time (the temporal sense) of the recent strange behavoiur, while "Since when are you so cocky?" does not ask about a time period but about the strange habit itself (the causative sense), about a sudden change of behaviur.
    Am I right?
     
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    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hello wolfbm1. The point about this "since when + present tense" rhetorical question (e.g. since when do I have to ask you if I want to go out? Since when are you the expert in mechanics/cooking/computers?) is that it doesn't really relate to the temporal use of "since" at all. It is an expression of disbelief or scorn or protest, and in the examples here, it really means I don't think I have to ask you for permission to go out, I don't think you know much about mechanics/cooking/computers, so why should I believe what you're telling me?

    Therefore, because it doesn't have a temporal meaning, it isn't used very much in the present perfect in this rhetorical question sense, though it could be. If it is used in the present perfect in this kind of non-temporal rhetorical disbelief sense (e.g. since when have I had to ask your permission ...) , the meaning would be exactly the same as if it is used in the present tense (since when do I have to ask your permission ...).

    I think we need to treat this rhetorical "since when? + present tense" expression of disbelief, scorn or protest as a separate idiom, and forget about the usual tense shifts associated with the temporal use of "since", because the meaning in this idiom is not temporal. The answer is never going to be "since last Friday" or "since five minutes ago" unless the respondent is being deliberately cheeky.

    In the temporal sense + present perfect, we would generally not use "since when", but "how long".

    How long have you had this cough? How long have you been learning Italian? Answers: for the past week/year, or since last week/year.
     
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    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you Enquiring Mind.
    I'm wondering if the "since when" sentence is just an idiom.
    There are other examples of "since + the present simple" in English, which seem to be just regular statements.
    Swan in paragraph 522, in Practical English Usage, gives these examples:
    "You’re looking much better since your operation.
    She doesn't come round to see us so much since her marriage.
    Since last Saturday I can’t stop thinking about you.
    "
    He explains that "present and past tenses are occasionally found, especially in sentences about changes."

    In another thread I mentioned the following example*:
    "I live simply. I've always lived simply. When my wife was alive, I didn't live very simply. (...) Since she died, I don't go out very much. I like to stay at home and write my books."

    * PENGUIN READERS (Pre-Intermediate level): "Dangerous Game" by L.G. Alexander

    So, such examples can be found in English. I'm looking for a rule that explains such use.
    I could I simply avoid using the "since + the present simple " construction, but I don't think I would know how to explain that use.
    How would you tackle this problem? I mean, how would you explain it?
     
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    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    This usage of "since when..." with either a present or a perfect tense to ask a rhetorical question is very much an idiom, and a colloquial one at that. The best way of explaining its usage is, I think, the one that Enquiring Mind came up with:
    I think we need to treat this rhetorical "since when? + present tense" expression of disbelief, scorn or protest as a separate idiom, and forget about the usual tense shifts associated with the temporal use of "since", because the meaning in this idiom is not temporal. The answer is never going to be "since last Friday" or "since five minutes ago" unless the respondent is being deliberately cheeky.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you, Donny. It doesn't make sense then to say: "Since when have you been you so cocky?" The idiom is "Since when are you so cocky?"

    Edit: I have read your comment again. You could actually use either tense to mean a surprise and disbelief. You said: <This usage of "since when..." with either a present or a perfect tense to ask a rhetorical question is very much an idiom.>

    What about Swan's sentence: "Since last Saturday I can't stop thinking about you." Is it also an idiom?
    What will happen if we use the present perfect: "Since last Saturday I haven't been able to stop thinking about you." Will it then just be a plain observation about someone's recent behaviour?
     
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    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    You are right, Wolf. It doesn't really make sense to ask "since when have you been so cocky?" in the (non-temporal) rhetorical statement of surprise/scorn/disbelief sense. This is because the "have you been" present perfect tense is so clearly a marker for time - it usually denotes an activity that started at some point in the past and continues up to the moment of speaking - that it becomes illogical or nonsensical in an idiom that is not time-related. It is a rhetorical question. You are not asking for, and are not expecting to get, an answer with a time when the activity started as in "Oh, last month I was very polite, but on 1st December I started being cocky!" :confused: unless the respondent is being highly sarcastic. It just means "I can't believe that you can be so cocky".

    "Since last Saturday I can't stop thinking about you" means exactly the same as "since last Saturday I haven't been able to stop thinking about you," but the nuance is - as Wandle explained in his reponse to the thread you linked to - that you are more aware of the continuing present inability to stop thinking, it's more emphatic, it conveys a greater sense of the realisation.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    "Since last Saturday I can't stop thinking about you" means exactly the same as "since last Saturday I haven't been able to stop thinking about you," but the nuance is - as Wandle explained in his reponse to the thread you linked to - that you are more aware of the continuing present inability to stop thinking, it's more emphatic, it conveys a greater sense of the realisation.
    Polish translation of both sentences looks exactly the same and uses the present tense in both cases. To convey the nuance in Polish I would have to add a word like "completely" or "simply." I would also replace the adverbial since with 'after' or 'ever since.'

    Swan says that a 'change' justifies the use of since + present simple.
    So does Wandle: <The sentence 'Since she died, I don't go out very much' could only be said by someone who has recognised the change in his behaviour. It could be intended to convey that he has deliberately changed his behaviour.>
    You talk about a more emphatic statement, about a greater awareness and a greater sense of realisation.

    So, the conjunction since + an event marks a decisive moment in someone's life and a starting point of change.

    In Oxford Practice Grammar, by George Yule, in chapter "16 Adverbial clauses," I found this:
    "We can use since to talk about a starting point and a reason together ('from that time and because') (5). (...)
    5 Since his wife left him, he's been depressed."

    Hermione Golightly seems to confirm that when she comments about the sentence 'I feel much better since I started the diet': <I did not read 'since' as 'because', although I agree it could mean that.>
    DonnyB puts it a bit differently: <The sentence with "Since she died..." creates an ambiguity in my mind as to whether since means because, and I think that sense is stronger if you use the present tense.>

    One could probably say sentence 5 more emphatically: "Since his wife left him, he's depressed."
     
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    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    We can use since to talk about a starting point and a reason together
    This, of course, is true but, as HermioneG and DonnyB both noted, this can make for ambiguity, depending on how "since" is used grammatically in the sentence, and on the context, that is why it is hard to be categorical about the meaning of a standalone out-of-context sentence.

    I can't come to work today since I'm ill. ("since" must mean "because")
    Since last Saturday I can't stop thinking about you. (since probably means primarily "starting from last Saturday", and not "because of last Saturday", though there could also be a "because" sense - the context may help here)
    Since his wife left him, he's depressed. ("since" must mean "because")
    Since his wife left him he's been depressed. ("since" probably means "starting from the time that", but it could also mean "because" or it could be both - the context might help.

    My knowledge of Polish is not good (and in any case this is the English-only forum), but the same grammatical conundrum would arise when translating into Czech: the same (present) tense would be used in "since his wife left him he's been depressed", and the problem would arise with the meaning of "since": do we say "from the time that" or do we say "because of the fact that"? We would have to hope the context provided the clarification.

    But in reality the tail is wagging the dog here. If the speaker/writer wanted to be sure of conveying the correct sense (either "because" or "starting from when"), he would formulate the sentence differently.
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I think that rendering "since ... " as "from the time that ..." or "after ..." could make it in Polish and Czech, or even German a landmark or important starting point of some change. Polish officially doesn't have the present perfect tense, yet there are some expressions as in this dialogue:
    Father: Have you done the homework?
    Son: I have done (it).
    We can use 'have' plus a past participle too, although very rarely.
     

    Vronsky

    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    I think, it's normal to use the present simple + for / since, if a story is told in so-called the historical present.

    Let's take a look at the sentence from the OP: "Since 2007 he teaches at school."
    If I say, "In university, he studies English literature. He graduates from university in 2005. Since 2007, he teaches at school," I don't see anything grammatically wrong with it, except that it is a little unusual way to tell a biography.

    In the same way, "After we are picked up at the hotel, we travel by car for a couple of hours before we arrive at camp." This is the historical present tense, so for is acceptable, in my opinion.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    ... a look at the sentence from the OP: "Since 2007 he teaches at school." :cross:
    If I say, "In university, he studies English literature. He graduates from university in 2005. Since 2007, he teaches at school, ... :cross:
    This is not possible, Vronsky. It's wrong, grammatically incorrect.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I don't like the first one either. To me, "Since 2007..." means "From 2007 onwards..." - you are therefore describing a period of time so "He teaches .. " doesn't work

    There is a combination of senses possible : Before 2007 he taught every weekday at college; since 2007 he only teaches three days a week.
    I don't see how one sentence describes a period of time but the other doesn't.

    To me they both describe a period of time: the present period beginning in 2007.

    And to me they are both grammatical. The second sounds more natural to me than the first, but I have not worked out why.

    I have some issue with "teaches at school" as a predicate. Does the speaker mean "teaches school", "teaches at the school", or something else?

    However, if we shorten the original sentence to just "He teaches since 2007", it sounds even stranger. Not ungrammatical, just stranger.

    And I can remove a lot of the other sentence and it still sounds fine:

    Since 2007 he teaches three days a week.

    Somehow "three days a week" does something helpful that "at school" doesn't. I can also replace "three days a week" with "a full schedule", and that sounds fine too.

    Now present perfect "has taught" does not tell me anything about teaching or not teaching now. If I hear "He has taught three days a week", I don't think it says he teaches three days a week now, but neither does it say he doesn't teach three days a week now. Without further context, I can guess that he probably does, but that is not stated by the present perfect sentence itself.

    As I see it, "Since 2007 he has taught three days a week" is about a period of time ending now, but "Since 2007 he teaches three days a week" is about the present period of time beginning in 2008 (or maybe beginning at the end of something other than a calendar year that we call "2007" for short).
     
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