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dokterjokkebrokWhat they need above all, in my view, is a very straightforward answer that is as short as possible. Surely you must think so too, right?
Bill, do you agree?
Yes I do. The contrast between 'auxiliary verb and modal verb' (in terms of what's required on EnglishForward) could have been covered in a relatively small space, and by using familiar terminology. I have to prepare papers on topics like this all the time, so I'm well aware of how it ought to be done.

BillJ
DJB,

I do certainly agree that answers that are as short and simple as possible. However, above all else I believe the answer must be correct.

15 years of teaching ESL showed me that many of the things taught in English and ESL classrooms, course books, and grammar guides are not correct. Language learners are smarter than most people give them credit for and they are always a perfect source of learning whether something taught to them is correct or not because their facial expressions show when something does not make sense to them.

Language learners and children are wonderful in that they ask "Why?". Some instructors are more than happy to say "just because" or "that's just the way it works in English" but these are not answers to why, rather they are excuses for an instructor not to admit to his students that he himself doesn't understand why.

As native speakers of a language, we are at an immediate disadvantage when it comes to teaching that language. Why? Because we've never had to learn it! How do you teach something you've never had to learn? Native speakers acquire a language through a natural process that is only active during the first 3-7 years of life. During this time, a child's mind possesses the unique ability to recognize the patterns and systems of a language and apply a set of universal 'rules' to that system to create the underlying math that allows him to use those patterns and words to communicate. There is no active learning of the rules, the brain is able to figure them out naturally. Because of this, the child acquires the grammar of the language without ever having to learn it or without ever being taught it. This is a natural process that all healthy people have. Unfortunately as a person ages and is only exposed to one or two (or 3 or 5) languages, the brain reduces its inventory of possible 'rules' and loses the ability to naturally acquire new language. From that point on, if he wants to learn a language, he has to actually actively learn the specific rules for that language. Some people are better as adults than others at figuring out rules on their own and learn languages easier. But still, anyone who is past the point where their brain is open to acquiring language naturally, has to learn rules and have patterns explained to them. In a language learning environment the job of the instructor is to provide an environment in which equips the learner to recognize obvious patterns, and to then explain the less obvious things as a set of clear rules and to be able to explain the reasoning behind those rules. In other words, the teacher needs to know rules he never had to learn and to be able to answer "why".

Grammar books are supposed to provide a shortcut to those "why" answers. Unfortunately, those grammar books are almost always written by native speakers who as natives have never had to learn the rules they're trying to describe and have never had to ask themselves why they say one thing and not the other. Some things in grammar guides are certainly correct. However, many things are totally incorrect. It's not that the writer of that book intentionally decided to write something he knew to not be right, but just that he perhaps failed to identify what was truly happening, or correctly identified what was happening but didn't get the reason for it correct. This where the ESL classroom becomes a great laboratory. If a rule does not work 100% of the time, it's incorrect and the actual rule needs to be figured out. If a student asks why something is the case and you (as an instructor) can't tell them why (and I don't mean the why listed in a textbook, but an actual logical reason based on full understanding of the grammar and that is valid in every situation) then you need to first figure out whether what you think is happening truly is happening, and only once you're sure of that, then figure out whether the 'rule' you think should apply really works 100% of the time or not. If it doesn't work 100% of the time, as mentioned above, try to figure out the true rule. When you do have a 100% valid rule, then figure out why that's the rule. It's a long process, and it's one that is very difficult for most native speakers to do because looking at their own language objectively is not something they've been trained to do.

So yes, I believe in giving short, simple answers. But I only give those answers if I know them to be 100% correct and fully understand why they're correct and can convey that same understanding to another person if asked to.
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BillJDrew - How strange then that less than a month ago, on a website called Lingforum.com, under the heading "Need some words guys", you submitted a post that merely proposed the use of the word "verject".
It's not strange at all Bill. At that time I had long identified the concept of a verject and the various other things I was seeking input on, yet I could not find a term in any of my linguistic references that was used for those concepts. I not only posted that query on lingforum but also on unilang in addition to asking several colleagues of mine and sending off emails to some specialists in linguistic topography I know.

Part of this search is what led me to find the aforementioned usage of verject in the papers that proposed it. This is all part of the process of linguistic research and innovation in language education. Sometimes there is no word for a given concept (because sometimes it may actually be a previously unidentified concept) and it is necessary to create a suitable word. That is not an easy thing to do as you certainly wouldn't just haphazardly name something george or pinky just because it needs a name and doesn't have one. There is one general rule of thumb that trumps -- don't create a new word for something if there is already a perfectly good word for it and proposing a new term doesn't rectify some problem (like confusion or something).

Verject seemed logical, however I had been unable to find that word. After such queries as the lingforum post you've quoted and the others I've mentioned, it had become clear that no alternative exists. Following this, I did quite an extensive search for both verbject and verject. As mentioned above, verbject has numerous other uses and didn't quite have the proper meaning etymologically. Verject was shown to be 'available' with no active use of it out there. Finally after quite a bit of work, I was able to find an established usage of the term verject that dated to 1996 and is used similarly to refer to the verb-centric portion of an utterance. Thus verject (and george was in fact taken).

Again, friendly discussion will yield any answer or explanation from me you'd like. But hoping to discredit me or my writing really won't get you very far because there is nothing to discredit and I have no motives in writing other than to help anyone who wants to understand the language understand it. This isn't my grammar versus your grammar. They are by far much the same, I have simply spent the past 5 years researching the problems with standard grammar and identified the issues at play that have allowed me to plug the holes so to speak.

I'm more than happy to explain why what I say is correct. Perhaps rather than attacking my writing or me in particular, you could try explaining why what you say about grammar is correct in the same way.

--Drew
Bill,

I've just been reading through some of the forums on here and I must say I was quite surprised to find this post by you:

BillJ
Cool Breeze
BillJYour grammar is incorrect in this instance.
Actually, it isn't just my grammar:"The infinitive may be the object of a verb: He does not need to know more."Otto Jespersen, Essentials of English GrammarProfessor Jespersen was a learned, broad-minded man who knew and understood that not everyone analysed language the way he and countless other grammarians did and consequently probably wouldn't have taken offence if anyone had disagreed with him.CB
Jespersen does indeed say that infinitives can be objects; not only is "to know more" the object of "need" in "He does not need to know more" in his view, he also applies it to "He need not know more", where a bare infinitival is said to be an object. I, and leading grammarians today, simply think he's wrong. We don't think these catenative complements are direct objects. Jespersen was a truly great grammarian; but he was not always necessarily right. We don't think he was right on this point.
Grammar is not a finished body of doctrine. There are new discoveries. Things have moved on since Jespersen’s time, and this is one area where they have.

BillJ
I have to ask, here you are pointing out that you simply disagree with an established grammar idea. And then follow with a statement that points out that the understanding of grammar and what is correct is constantly changing due to new discoveries. Yet, you have reacted absolutely vehemently against the notion that what I have written regarding auxiliaries and such is correct or even possible (I believe your wording was something along the lines of flights of fancy) and then went on to argue point by point against what I'd written with your justification being that it's different from what you think you know and then further that your information comes from a grammar book and thus must be correct.

Which is it?

I find it quite ironic that you would in one thread propose that changes in understanding result in innovations in the understanding of grammar and use that to justify your ideas in lieu of someone else's, yet turn around and oppose someone else's ideas (in this case mine) and justify that opposition with the opinion that innovation is not possible.

hmmm....

I notice you continue along similarly contradictory lines:

BillJ
CalifJim
BillJI've always had trouble believing that infinitive clauses could be direct objects, so I'm OK with not calling them direct objects.CJ
Too many people prattle on about points of grammar, simply quoting grammarians like Jesperson and never coming up with any real reasons of their own with hard evidence to support their views.

I know you're not one of them. So tell us why you see things the way you do. Give us some syntactic evidence to support your view. This is what grammar is all about!

BillJ
We have a saying in America: practice what you preach.
drew.wardDJB,

I do certainly agree that answers that are as short and simple as possible. However, above all else I believe the answer must be correct.

But I don't think that's possible Drew. There's always going to be exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions. When I teach my students about if-clauses, do you think I bother them with exceptions such as 'volition'? I'd rather provide them with a straightforward, rule of thumb they can use and that is imperfect, than a rule that is long, complicated but a 100% accurate – although I strongly doubt whether the latter is possible. I'm aware that what I've said above is about grammar rules and not answers, but often in our answers we refer to grammar rules. So it's basically the same.

drew.wardDJB,

If a rule does not work 100% of the time, it's incorrect and the actual rule needs to be figured out.

How can it be that there are rules that don't work 100% of the time? Could you give some clear examples of that? Preferably, examples of very basic English grammar, such as the simple present, past, perfect et cetera.

drew.wardDJB,

So yes, I believe in giving short, simple answers. But I only give those answers if I know them to be 100% correct and fully understand why they're correct and can convey that same understanding to another person if asked to.
Fair enough, but answer me this. Had the OP been one of your own students, would you have given them the same answer? No offense, but would that even work in a classroom situation?

drew.wardDJB,

Language learners and children are wonderful in that they ask "Why?". Some instructors are more than happy to say "just because" or "that's just the way it works in English" but these are not answers to why, rather they are excuses for an instructor not to admit to his students that he himself doesn't understand why.

.
Actually, I often think 'just because' is for their own good. I use it because I know from experience that providing my students with an overkill of examples, rules and exceptions is not going to help them wrap their minds around it. It'll only confuse them more, and trust me: been there, done that! I teach 12-17 yr. olds and on average I have around 25 sitting in a classroom. Trust me, that's a lot to handle. I've experienced that it's okay to teach your students rules that are imperfect, as long as you let them keep in mind that there are always going to be exceptions. It's okay because they'll learn about them in a higher grade.

If I don't know or can't give a good explanation, I simply tell them, I'm sorry I wouldn't know, or I'd have to look that up for you. I'm not perfect and I never will be. Emotion: wink

- DJB -

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
dokterjokkebrok
drew.ward...above all else I believe the answer must be correct.

But I don't think that's possible Drew.
You're being completely logical in thinking that! Emotion: smile

Because the system of grammar that most people consider as the standard was formulated before we understood many of the ways languages actually work, much of it is incorrect at its core. The grammars of English that are in circulation today are revisions of previous grammars but none of them are written based on a fresh look at the language (analyzing English with the more complete body of linguistic knowledge we have today to ensure our understanding of it is correct). If an answer is based on rules that were developed without knowing what was really happening in the language, then no matter how well-written and researched, that answer can not be correct. It sometimes may appear to be correct and may in fact 'work' 80-90% of the time, but as an ESL instructor you have certainly been in the classroom at some point where a student pointed out a situation where such a rule doesn't work and you may have never before noticed it or may not have the slightest idea why it doesn't work in that situation (this is what got be started with all this years ago).

dokterjokkebrokThere's always going to be exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions....I'd rather provide them with a straightforward, rule of thumb they can use and that is imperfect, than a rule that is long, complicated but a 100% accurate
That's just it, correct rules have no exceptions. An exception is simply a situation in which the given "rule" doesn't work. Proper rules fully developed from the ground up on an accurate understanding of the linguistics of a language always work 100% of the time and have no exceptions. In no other field are 'exceptions' allowed. Teaching English 'rules' with exceptions is no different than teaching a math student that 2+2=4 (except on Fridays and every other Thursday when it equals 7 and sometimes 3). I am guessing you would not accept such an absurd 'rule' for math, so why be satisfied with something just as faulty with language?

Here's the other thing, the rules really aren't complicated. In fact, when you actually understand what is really happening with the language and get rid of any misconceptions about language and grammar and such and look at it from a fresh viewpoint, it's all extremely simple! The reason my original answer was so long and seemingly complicated is because I had to introduce a lot of concepts and such that are either missing in traditional grammar of completely misunderstood. If you can approach grammar with an completely open mind and not try to force new ideas into the mold of the old ones you've been exposed to, everything in English is actually very simple, very straightforward, the rules work 100% of the time, there is an answer to every 'why' question, and there are no exceptions to anything.

dokterjokkebrok
drew.wardIf a rule does not work 100% of the time, it's incorrect and the actual rule needs to be figured out.

How can it be that there are rules that don't work 100% of the time? Could you give some clear examples of that?
You really don't need examples because you've been thinking of them the whole time. Any 'rule' with exceptions is an incorrect interpretation of the grammar. The way rules are developed is that someone takes a sentence or some other happening in the language and then tries to explain what is occurring and why. That person has to literally just look at it and think about what is happening. He must analyze what he is seeing based on his own understanding of linguistics and what he knows (or thinks he knows) about the language. It's fairly easy to develop a 'rule' that explains what is happening most of the time. However, unless you truly know exactly what you are looking at and understand the linguistic principles underlying it, it becomes very difficult to figure out a rule that covers something 100% of the time.

Which is easier if you are writing a grammar: spend perhaps years trying to figure out the rule that works 100% of the time, or getting lazy and once you have one that works say 80% of the time calling it 'good enough' and telling people there are 'exceptions'?

I once had some students call me out on the standard rule we have for when to use durational aspect verbs (variously called progressive or continuous) and when not to. My original understanding of this and the 'rule' used in that class had been that the durational forms are used to show something is being done 'now' (I teach English (in general, it's something I do, my job) vs (I am teaching English (it's what I'm doing now, it's the activity in which I am engaged at this moment). That rule (with the necessary variations to cover future and past) works much of the time. But at some point one of the students noticed a situation where this reasoning was not valid. He was right. So we set out as a class to figure out what was happening and came up with a deal that we would keep trying to figure out the full 'rule' until we got it to a form that worked 100% of the time. We went through several revisions of this standard 'rule' and each time increased it's accuracy by accounting for the problems caused by the 'exceptions'. We probably went from 50% to 60% and such with most of our new rules lasting only a week or so before someone found a flaw (this was a class of engineers). We eventually got to a rule that we thought was fully correct and in fact that 'rule' served us well for about two and a half months until one day a sentence didn't fit. We never made it above that 85% or so accuracy in that course. It took me another 3 years of research to rectify that last 15%. In the end I found that there were some very basic concepts like tense and aspect that were for the most part misunderstood within the context of traditional English grammar. Only after correcting for those core faults was I able to formulate the proper answer to that original question. Now I can give you a rule for these durational forms that is simple and works 100% of the time without the slightest need to use the word exception. As long as I was trying to revise and work within that original flawed framework, I could never have gotten it right. Only after admitting that what I thought I'd known about English grammar was in fact incorrect was I able to "see the light" so to speak.

dokterjokkebrokHad the OP been one of your own students, would you have given them the same answer?
I start my students with the basics from scratch. Because they have already learned the actual true core rules and understand the very basics from the beginning, by the time a situation such as this were to come up, they likely would never need to ask this question, but if they did, I would have no reason to provide such a lengthy full answer because much of what I had to describe in my post they would already have long since learned. That post was as much about reteaching as it was teaching, but if they're taught something you know to be fully correct originally, then the need to unteach something that's wrong so that you can teach something that's right isn't there.

dokterjokkebrokActually, I often think 'just because' is for their own good. I use it because I know from experience that providing my students with an overkill of examples, rules and exceptions is not going to help them wrap their minds around it. It'll only confuse them more, and trust me: been there, done that! I teach 12-17 yr. olds and on average I have around 25 sitting in a classroom. Trust me, that's a lot to handle. I've experienced that it's okay to teach your students rules that are imperfect, as long as you let them keep in mind that there are always going to be exceptions. It's okay because they'll learn about them in a higher grade.

Unfortunately many of them don't get taught the further information in a higher grade, often because the next instructor is no more likely to know that answer than you were. If rules are based on incorrect assumptions and don't make sense, then yes, they will certainly be confusing and the students' reaction in such a situation is rightly that.

I think the old saying fits here well: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for the rest of his life.

'Just because' answers are like giving him a fish. Conveying proper understanding of the language and how and why things function the way they do are like teaching him to fish.
dokterjokkebrokIf I don't know or can't give a good explanation, I simply tell them, I'm sorry I wouldn't know, or I'd have to look that up for you. I'm not perfect and I never will be.

This just means that you are a wonderful educator. Anyone who thinks they have nothing more to learn can never be an effective teacher. In my experience, the very worst teachers, and the people who make the biggest messes that have to be cleaned up later (assuming the students don't just get frustrated, give up, and quit), are those who would rather teach something that is incorrect rather than swallow their pride and admit to their students that they don't know the answer.

This is a skill of a good teacher. A skill of a great teacher is that he then seeks out the necessary understanding to not only find that answer, but to understand it enough that he can then effective convey that understanding to his students.

Cheers,

Drew
Drew,

I don't think you understood what I meant when I said that it's okay to give students imperfect rules. By imperfect I mean rules that indeed have exceptions. I don't think that's bad. It's not bad because they will find out later. Why is 'women' the plural form of 'woman' rather than 'womans'? Because we all agreed that it's irregular and so an exception was born to the general rule of +(e)s. So I'm very curious to know how you would replace something like that with a better grammar rule that's not 'riddled with' exceptions.

I have an idea.

Imagine that I'm one of your students. I'm, let's say, 12 years old and a native speaker of English. Now I have a question about the past perfect. I'm struggling to understand how and when to use it.

Could you explain to me, as you would to one of your students, how to use it? Please show me your new system in action. Please, I'm genuinely interested.

- DJB -
Certainly!

First I'd make sure that my student understood what tense and perfection is so that he could know what he's using and why:

Me: Ok, so first let's talk about perfection. When you hear that word 'perfect' what do you think it means?

Student: (without fail the answer is always something like flawless or ideal)

Me: Like a perfect circle?

Student: right, because it's perfectly round.

Me: Well that's close. That word perfect actually comes into grammar from ancient Greek philosophy. The Greek philosophers did in fact start using that word to describe a circle (if possible draw a circle on the board).

Hmm (make fun of your less than ideal circle) is my circle perfect?

Student: maybe not quite... it's a little uneven.

Me: Well, today when we say 'perfect circle' we mean one that's perfectly round and is even and not oval or anything. So not one like mine!

When the Greeks chose the word perfect to describe a circle though, they weren't worried about whether it was even or anything.

Student: they weren't?

Me: Nope! They weren't really worried about the shape at all, and used 'perfect' to describe lots of shapes like ovals or the figure 8 or the infinity sign. (usually getting a bit of a confused look from the student at this point because he's trying to figure out the connection).

Try this: tell me how to draw a line.

Student: (something like this) take your marker, touch it to the board.

Me: Where? (I'm playing dumb so he has to tell me exactly what to do).

Student: (pointing) there! now move the marker that way (points one way or another). (I keep going and going so that he realizes he has to tell me to stop) Stop! (again I pretend to be frozen so that he has to tell me the next command) now take your marker off.

Me: Ok so that's a line right?

Student: yeah?

Me: What makes it a line?

Student: Well, it starts here and ends here, so it's a line.

Me: Good! Now how would you tell me to draw a circle?

((repeat a similar exercise but in this case he's gotten me to put my marker in one spot then bring it back around to that spot in a circular motion -- you can act goofy and have some fun with this part. Conversation continues with the circle drawn))

Me: So you said that was a line because it starts there and ends there. What makes this a circle?

Student: Probably someone else drawing it!

Me: Haha ok assuming I could draw better, what makes that a line and this a circle?

Student: well that starts there and goes over there and stops. The circle just goes back around to the beginning.

Me: So where's the beginning of the circle? (student points to the spot he had me start at because he obviously remembers it). Where's the end? (thinks for second then points to the same spot).

(pointing at the line) how do you know that's the beginning and that's the end?

Student: because it starts there and it stops there and there's nothing after it.

Me: and how do you know that's where the circle begins and ends?

Student: because I saw you do it.

(while talking and moving an with my back blocking the board I draw several more circles but do so in a way that keeps him from seeing where I first touch the marker)

Me: Alright, but what about this circle? Where does is begin and where does it end?

Student: (at first tries to see the 'points' of the line but can't) I can't tell.

Me: what about this one? and this one? and this one?

Student: well there is no beginning and end, it's one solid line.

Me: AHH! And what about this? (draw an 8 or an infinity symbol)

Student: it's the same thing, it's one line there's not really a beginning or end.

Me: Ok, what about this (I take the eraser and remove a piece of one of the circles so that it looks like a 'c'). Is there a beginning and an end?

Student: well yeah it's either there or there (points to the two ends of the circular line) but I don't know which is which.

(I do the same with the figure 8)

Me: OK, so you're telling me that a circle doesn't have a beginning or an end?

Student: right.

Me: and this? (the un-erased figure 8 or infinity symbol) Same thing?

Student: yeah!

Me: but this does? (line -- student replies yes; then erased circle and erased figure 8 with the same response).

Me: Great! So the one thing that's the same for all these shapes is that they have no beginning and no end then?

Student: right.

Me: Those ancient Greek philosophers figured the same thing you just did thousands of years ago. And when they figured that out, they needed a word to describe that idea. They said that something that has no beginning or end, that's not missing a part or anything, is 'complete' (really accentuate complete). The Greek word for complete is 'PERFECT'.

Student: ooookay (at this point he's understanding what we've done, he now understands this idea of complete and he has been told that the word perfect in greek meant 'complete' but he's probably trying to contrast this with his usual definition of the word which in modern English has a different meaning).

Me: So the Greeks chose this word perfect to describe a circle, not because it was such a nice circle, but because they saw is as being completed. (student signifies agreement)

When you see the word 'perfect' in grammar, it doesn't mean that that sentence is better than all the other sentences. It's probably not a particularly sexy sentence or one that is so nice that you can't think of any possible way to improve it.

Student: (again looking at me like I'm crazy) alright...

Me: When you see perfect in grammar it's talking about the verb, and it simply means that the verb is ____ (??? -- actively pointing at my circle on the board)

Student: perfect??

Me: (still molesting my circle and REALLY playing up the shape by pointing around and around and around) Which MEANS????

Student: completed??

Me: YES!!

A PERFECTED verb is one that has been COMPLETED!

So when you see perfect it means that the verb is completed or finished.

----------------------------------------------------

This seems very drawn out when typed, but in the classroom it only takes 4 or 5 minutes and if you have more than one student you can involve them in the demonstration and of course with other students they are giving you the answers more quickly as well. The dialog almost always goes something very close to this one above though.

Now that I am sure my student understands what perfection is (and at this point I introduce the terms perfection, and perfected as they're more accurate and useful in grammar), I would go back over tense.

I won't do the full dialog for how I would have much earlier taught them tense, but students start using present, past, and future tenses within the first 2 or 3 class sessions. It's not treated a hurdle they have to overcome later and I've never had student have a problem using all three together from the beginning. It's a matter of how it's explained to them in the first place.

They would already have been taught that tense is nothing more than a contrast between two references on the timeline of the sentence. The first is always (technical term Time of Utterance) the time at which the sentence is said or written (in English this is 'now' probably 80-90% of the time). The second reference is determined by the auxiliary used or by some time phrase. Earlier on they've learned to compare TUTT with TAST (Time of Assertion -- again technical term but they don't necessarily worry about the technical side of it as they can grasp this TUTT and TAST idea) which they've learned is the time at which the 'idea or action' of the verb occurs. If TUTT=TAST it's present tense. If TUTT<TAST future (if TUTT is earlier than TAST or when they're doing timelines which work well because they're interactive and visual you could say if TUTT is to the 'left' of TAST). And If, TUTT>TAST it's past. This approach is likely unfamiliar to you and may seem complex, but if presented properly very early on (and if your students are speakers of the same language, you can use examples in their native tongue to illustrate these ideas), they not only get it, but like it.

After the review of that I introduce a new time reference called TCOM (Time of completion). I explain that with unperfected verbs we were worried about when the verb happens, that with perfected verbs our focus is not on when the verb happens but when it is (and I solicit this answer from them) completed.

We then do similar exercises using timelines but with perfected verbs so that they can plot the TCOMs and I mix it up between sentences where they would use TAST and ones where they'd use TCOM. Again, because they've been trained to do this from the beginning it is an easy next step for them.

Now that they are comfortable being able to think in terms of completion of the verb, I take them back to tense in unperfected forms and we (together) talk about how when one of our unperfected sentences is in the present it means the verb occurs right now, and when it's in the past it means it's already occurred, and when it's in the future that it shall occur.

I then give them one of their previously used perfected examples in the present tense. Something like:

"I have learned what perfect means."

We go back and forth between tense and perfection and what the present means and what perfected is and all that just to get them really processing the concepts and thinking of them together. What we end up with is that when perfected verbs are used in the present tense, it means "As of now, 'x verb' is completed". I point out that we can't know from that sentence exactly when the learning occurred, whether it's still happening, how long it took or anything else really, but that all we know is that as of now (the time of utterance), that verb 'learn' is completed or finished.

We similarly cover future examples "You will have learned everything for the test by the end of class." Where they again conclude that the TCOM (time at which the learning is finished) is sometime before the end of class. They again can only get the information given which is the time of completion, so they have no way of knowing from that example when or how long and such, but they do know that it will be completed by the time their class ends. One thing they now must be sure of is that while perfected forms in the present can NEVER have a specific time phrase (because the TCOM is always 'as of NOW'), that when used in the future they MUST have a specific time (examples are used that use actual stated times, things like later or tomorrow, and also simply through context).

They are told then that while they can't use a specific time phrase with perfected forms in the present, that like the future, they MUST use specific times for the past. They then practice and by the time we are done they know the following:

Perfection is used to show that the verb is completed and to tell when that completion occurs. When used in the present, it means the verb is completed 'as of now'. When used in the future, it means the verb shall be finished 'as of a specific time in the future'. And when used in the past it means that the verb was completed as of a specific time in the past.

Because they now know the purpose of perfection, and what information perfected forms allow in different tenses, and which ones use specific times, they can now choose when they should use perfected versus unperfected forms.

They understand that it's not about what information is expressed, but rather what information is possible. If they need to focus on when the verb was completed they would use the perfected forms. If they don't need to express this information they'd use the unperfected forms.

This means they also understand the differences between:

John ate pizza. John has eaten pizza. and John had eaten pizza yesterday.

Most native speakers never figure out the different uses of these Emotion: wink

--Drew
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Well, ya, it seems all perfect and all (pun intended), but what if there's one bright student who, when you give the example of 'I have learned what perfect means', asks you, ''Sir, but what about a sentences like I have worked at this company for 10 years. Then you cannot say that 'worked' is completed or finished as of now, right? Because I'm still working there, aren't I?'' Is that an exception, Sir?
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