Some unclear usages of Present Perfect (continuous)

Ivan_I

Senior Member
Russian
Could you comment on these usages. Are they OK?

1) Sylvester Stallone Shares Photo Taken Moments Before ‘Cowardly’ Attack in Nice, France

During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family have been sharing photos of the beautiful country.

Why not: During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family were sharing photos of the beautiful country.

2) I have seen it in a school text book

We have decided to do simple things on Buy Nothing day. We have walked to school instead of taking the but and we have asked our parents bot to go to the supermarket.

I am not sure if Present Perfect is OK here.
 
  • london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    1. You can therefore use only the past simple or the present perfect continuous, not the past continuous.

    During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family have been sharing/shared photos of the beautiful country.

    Which you use depends on whether Stallone is still in Nice as the person speaks, in which case that person would use the past present continuous. If Stallone has already left Nice at the time of speaking we would use the simple past.

    The past continuous is not used because it does not express a) a completed action in the past (simple past) or b) a situation which began in the past and is still going on as we speak.

    Another example:

    During his time at Oxford John worked on his rowing skills as part of the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race team .
    John is no longer at Oxford.

    During his time at Oxford John has been working on his rowing skills as part of the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race team .
    John is still at Oxford.

    2. Please correct the spelling.;) In any case the tense to be used depends on the context, which you have not given. However, if this is a completed action in the past you have to use the past simple, not the present perfect. So, do you mean:

    We have decided to do simple things on Buy Nothing Day. We will walk to school...we will ask our parents.... (future)

    or:

    We decided to do simple things on Buy Nothing Day. We walked to school....we asked our parents.... (past)?
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you!
    You say "The past continuous is not used because it does not express a) a completed action in the past (simple past) "

    But the Present perfect continuous doesn't do it either. (and you say that the Present perfect continuous is possible)
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    That's right. But if the situation is in the past why is it not OK to use past continuous?
    I answered that in my previous post. :)

    Which you use depends on whether Stallone is still in Nice as the person speaks, in which case that person would use the past present continuous. If Stallone has already left Nice at the time of speaking we would use the simple past.

    The past continuous is not used because it does not express a) a completed action in the past (simple past) or b) a situation which began in the past and is still going on as we speak.
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Well, I have read it. What I don't understand is why the action must be completed if it's in the past according to your opinion. I see that you approve continuous in the present though. Why is it ok to be in the process of sharing in the present but not ok to have been in the process of sharing in the past?
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The process of 'sharing photos' in the past requires the past simple (a completed action in the past) . The process of 'sharing photos' which started in the past and which is still going on as we speak requires the present perfect continuous.
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The process of 'sharing photos' in the past requires the past simple (a completed action in the past) . The process of 'sharing photos' which started in the past and which is still going on as we speak requires the present perfect continuous.
    That is exactly what is out of my understanding. Why is it mandatory to make the action completed? For example,

    During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family were telling me about a beautiful country.

    Do you say that it is wrong? Does it have to be

    During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family told me about a beautiful country.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Could you comment on these usages. Are they OK?

    1) Sylvester Stallone Shares Photo Taken Moments Before ‘Cowardly’ Attack in Nice, France

    1a)During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family have been sharing photos of the beautiful country.

    Why not:1b During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family were sharing photos of the beautiful country.

    2) I have seen it in a school text book

    We have decided to do simple things on Buy Nothing day. We have walked to school instead of taking the but and we have asked our parents bot to go to the supermarket.

    I am not sure if Present Perfect is OK here.
    1a the use of present perfect continuous indicates they are still doing it.
    1b the lack of present pefect continuous indicates they are no longer doing it and the sentence tells us some action they performed continuously in the past but have stopped. E.g., At school yesterday we were sharing photos when we saw Stallone.
    2. This sentence uses present perfect because the Buy Nothing Day is not yet over (it is still the present day). The next day, those action would be described with simple past.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    That is exactly what is out of my understanding. Why is it mandatory to make the action completed? For example,

    During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family were telling me about a beautiful country.:cross:

    Do you say that it is wrong? Does it have to be

    During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family told me about a beautiful country.:tick:
    I honestly can think of no other way of explaining it to you, as every time I try you misunderstand me. Sorry.:oops: Hopefully somebody else will make it clearer for you.
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I honestly can think of no other way of explaining it to you, as every time I try you misunderstand me. Sorry.:oops: Hopefully somebody else will make it clearer for you.
    Well, I have given you examples with the verb "to tell" and you haven't commented on them... seems like my misunderstanding is fair)))
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The original sentence was this, HG:

    During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family have been sharing photos of the beautiful country.

    Does that make it more interesting? I'd say it was headline news!:D

    What I have been trying to get across to Ivan is this:

    a) When this article was written, Stallone was still in the country and uploading photo on social media, or whatever. This is what the use of the present perfect continuous tells us.
    b) We can't substitute the past continuous ('was sharing photos') for the present perfect continuous in this sentence: it isn't grammatical and therefore means nothing.
    c) If they had used the past simple ('shared photos') it would have meant that Stallone had already left the country.

    I've failed miserably....
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Stallone and his family were sharing photos of the beautiful country...

    This wording sets up the expectation that something happened while they were sharing:

    During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family were sharing photos of a beautiful country when all of a sudden I felt the urge to pack my bags and fly there to see for myself.

    Julian Stuart says something similar: At school yesterday we were sharing photos when we saw Stallone.

    If the expectation of something happening (in the simple past tense) is not fulfilled, we are left wondering why the sentence is incomplete.
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you all! I see which pattern you suggest and I get it. But I want to know what stops you from using the past continuous on its own. This issue has to do with Telic/Atelic verbs. If you want you can read about it here

    Telicity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The problem here in my view arises when I translate the sentence into my language. When the past simple is used it expresses Telicity (completeness).

    Now I wonder did Stallone have a certain quantity of photos to share so that sharing would be completed? I don't think so. They were sharing photos and there wasn't a certain line/moment when we could have spotted the end of sharing, hence the action was Atelic.

    I know it's a hard one.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Ivan, I am not sure how that is relevant. The sharing can end. The continuous tenses are often referred to as progressive tenses because the action is in progress - i.e., somewhere between beginning and ending. A relevant time point or indicator is required to define when it is in progress for the progressive to make sense. That is not required for simple past or even past perfect.

    Yesterday we were sharing photos when we saw Stallone so we put them away* and followed him.
    Yesterday we were (in the middle of) sharing photos when we saw Stallone so we put them away and followed him.

    * That defines the time of the end of sharing.
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Julian, I agree that the sharing can and does end at a certain point. But ending doesn't mean that it is completed. It's like

    I was reading a book yesterday.

    Yesterday's reading ended but the reading is not completed because I haven't read the whole book yet.

    They were drilling all morning.

    I think it's a good sentence, too. And the action is in the past.
     
    Last edited:

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    1b the lack of present pefect continuous indicates they are no longer doing it and the sentence tells us some action they performed continuously in the past but have stopped. E.g., At school yesterday we were sharing photos when we saw Stallone.
    Is this possible?

    At school yesterday we were sharing photos.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Julian, I agree that the sharing can and does end at a certain point. But ending doesn't mean that it is completed. It's like

    I was reading a book yesterday.

    Yesterday's reading ended but the reading is not completed because I haven't read the whole book yet.

    They were drilling all morning.

    I think it's a good sentence, too. And the action is in the past.
    I wonder if you have a fancy word for some action that stops and starts but may or may not ever be completed.:)

    The second sentence is conveying/emphasizing the information that the drilling was continuous throughout the morning. The first sentence sounds a little strange in isolation but if you added something like "all day" you would again emphasize the continuous nature of the activity. It could also be the answer to the question "What were you doing yesterday?"
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Stallone and his family were sharing photos of the beautiful country...

    This wording sets up the expectation that something happened while they were sharing:

    During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family were sharing photos of a beautiful country when all of a sudden I felt the urge to pack my bags and fly there to see for myself.
    I am vaguely remembering that PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS would be better. Or maybe for pedants only.


    During their time in Nice, Stallone and his family HAD BEEN sharing photos of a beautiful country when all of a sudden I felt the urge to pack my bags and fly there to see for myself.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think you should decide what you want to say in detail and we'll tell you how to say it.
    In detail includes the speaker's attitude. If you're complaining about the behaviour, you might choose to use 'kept (on) doing'.
    "We had dinner with the Stallones last night. They kept (on) talking about their holiday in Nice and the beautiful countryside."

    "I tried to get in touch with you yesterday afternoon.
    "I was doing some gardening"
    Here, I'm not interested in the beginning or end of the activity, only that it took place all afternoon to explain why the other person couldn't get through.
    In another context, talking about what you did yesterday, you would use the simple past.
     
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