That's what I am looking for

JeongminSon

Senior Member
Korean
(1) That's what I am looking for.
(2) That's what I was looking for.
(3) That's what I have been looking for.

Is the sentence (1) wrong? What's the difference in meaning between the three above ? I always thank you all, angels^_^
 
  • elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    (1) That's what I am I'm looking for.
    (2) That's what I was looking for.
    (3) That's what I have I've been looking for.

    With the changes above, all three sentences are correct.

    The differences in meaning correspond to the differences between the tenses used: present progressive, past progressive, present perfect progressive.
     

    JeongminSon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    (1) That's what I am I'm looking for.
    (2) That's what I was looking for.
    (3) That's what I have I've been looking for.

    With the changes above, all three sentences are correct.

    The differences in meaning correspond to the differences between the tenses used: present progressive, past progressive, present perfect progressive.

    Could you tell me the meaning difference?
    If not possible, could you tell which one is spoken most frequently, more frequently, least frequently?
     
    "That's what I'm looking for" now, in the present, at this moment.

    "That's what I was looking for" at some point in the past. I am no longer looking.

    "That's what I have been looking for" in the past and continue to look for now.

    There is no difference in frequency because the the sentences are applicable in different situations. It's not a matter of usage (more common or less common). It's a matter of using the grammatical tense that fits the situation.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    "That's what I have been looking for" in the past and continue to look for now.
    I disagree with this comment. "I have been looking" is not explicitly about looking now.

    In fact, it is common to say "That's what I have been looking for" when "that" is found.

    Present perfect progressive is just present perfect + progressive, in one sense or another. I might say:

    "That's what I have been looking for" at one or more points in the past, or starting in the past and continuing up until now.

    "Until now" does not really include "now", so "I have been looking" says neither "I continue to look now" nor "I stop looking now".
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    (1) That's what I am looking for.
    (2) That's what I was looking for.
    (3) That's what I have been looking for.

    Is the sentence (1) wrong? What's the difference in meaning between the three above ? I always thank you all, angels^_^
    Is there a difference in meaning? Not really; the meaningful part isn't in the auxiliary verbs "be" (whatever its form: am, was, been) or "have." As auxiliary verbs, they are simply part of the skeleton of the sentence, playing grammatical functions. The auxiliary verbs would make a difference if they are needed to mark "past tense" (was, had), to signify that it all happened in the past; but if this is happening "now," "tense" is irrelevant, and all three are possible.

    Now, in the "now," which one would people use? There is no universal answer. It depends on who you ask, and how they intuitively match verb paradigms and reality (i.e. perspective).

    So the answer to the question, is (1) wrong?, is no, it's not wrong. In the "now," choosing one option doesn't exclude the other two options. Sometimes, the discourse itself selects the verb form. If someone asks, Is this what you are looking for?, then it's quite natural to answer, That's what I am looking for, matching "are" with "am."

    And there is something else to consider, which may not be what you had in mind.

    Look(-ing) for is an idiom, and it can be specific (someone/something in particular) or general/broad. If I'm having a bad day, and someone gives me a hug, (1), (2), (3) can be specific ("a hug") or broad ("attention, "understanding," "comfort," etc.)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    […]
    It's not a matter of usage (more common or less common). It's a matter of using the grammatical tense that fits the situation.
    For me the above is correct, and the below is not.
    Is there a difference in meaning? Not really; […] but if this is happening "now," "tense" is irrelevant, and all three are possible.
    Historical present is a thing, and subjunctive is a thing, but the sentence "That's what I was looking for" can only be about the past, never the present.

    It may of course be about a short time ago, but that is not the present.
     
    I agree with Forero at #6 and must correct what I said. It's true that you could say "that's what I have been looking for" after you've found "that", as long as you just found it. It's the sort of thing you would say when you finally find something you were looking for.
     

    JeongminSon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    "That's what I'm looking for" now, in the present, at this moment.

    "That's what I was looking for" at some point in the past. I am no longer looking.

    "That's what I have been looking for" in the past and continue to look for now.

    There is no difference in frequency because the the sentences are applicable in different situations. It's not a matter of usage (more common or less common). It's a matter of using the grammatical tense that fits the situation.
    That's the answer that I have been looking for ^^ I cannot thank you enough.
     
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