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CalifJim posted a long, informative response to a question about the use of the past and present perfect tense. The following paragraph is an excerpt from his posting:

>> The present perfect, however, does not "singularize", "individuate" or "particularize" an action. With the present perfect, we don't even know exactly when the action happened! What is more important with the present perfect is that the action now has some felt effect on the present. When you say "I have written a letter", in a way you are pointing to that letter and saying, "And here it is. Here is the letter I have written" -- even though the pointing and saying may be only a mental pointing and saying! The important thing is having (hence the auxiliary "have") the letter now.

Now, I understand that if I wrote a letter at some point in the past but don't know when exactly I wrote it, I have to use the present perfect tense: Hence, "Since Monday, I have taken a shower, I have written a letter and I have made a cake."

As a result of these activities, I am now clean, I have a letter and a cake. This is what CalifJim refers to in his example. But what about activities, which do not have any particular effect on the present, leaving me with no cake, clean body or letter? For example, what tense to you use when watching TV?

So while eating chocolate is clear: "Since Monday, I have eaten two pounds of chocolate." --> The chocolate is gone.

Watching TV is more complicated: Is it "Since Monday, I watched seven episodes of 'Mr. Bean'." or "Since Monday, I have watched seven episodes of 'Mr. Bean'."

The "effect on the present"-rule doesn't really work here. I would nonetheless use the present perfect tense.

Comments, ideas, suggestions? Thanks a lot!

BL
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Hi,

"Since Monday, I have watched seven episodes of 'Mr. Bean'."

The "effect on the present"-rule doesn't really work here. Yes, it does.You have the effect in your mind at the time of speaking. For example, in a context, you might say:

Since Monday, I have watched seven episodes of 'Mr. Bean'. He's very funny, I love watching him! Do you like Mr. Bean?

I like Mr. Bean, too. Clive
Comments  
Don't worry so much about the action but the reoccurence of the action. Is it probable that it will happen again? In this case, a shower, I would hope you have showered more times than just once on Monday this week. So say, "I have showered", and it's likely you will shower later.

Now, to the TV programs.

Each program has a sense of completion. Usually, new programs have a weekly episode or show. Other programs are like talk shows and news. Decide which ones will reoccur and which ones will not in a given time.

Does this show produce new episodes anymore? I honestly don't know, but I would assume no. In this case, use past. However, if it is a show which is new or established to show everyday then use present.

This week, I have been watching the nightly sports edition after the news. (It's probable I will watch tomorrow's show also).
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 Clive's reply was promoted to an answer.
Thanks!

Could you perhaps even generalize and say, that whenever you cannot determine a specific point in time, when something happend (2 weeks ago, yesterday, last year, earlier today), you definitely don't usw the past tense?

You then have to decide between present perfect and present perfect continuous ...
Hi,

Could you perhaps even generalize and say, that whenever you cannot determine a specific point in time, when something happened (2 weeks ago, yesterday, last year, earlier today), you definitely don't use the past tense?

No, I definitely wouldn't want to generalize in that way. The situation is a lot more complex than that.

Clive
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