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Hi all,

Just when I thought I understood (almost) everything there is to know about the present perfect and the simple past I stumbled over a translation from Dutch I made --the problematic sentence is bold:

----- begin fragment -----

Seventeen-year-old Claire lives on her own in a studio in the provincial town of Angoulême, where she works as a cashier in a hypermarché. She spends her little spare time designing and embroidering clothing.

The flaming red-haired teenager has always had a troublesome relationship with her parents and ran away from home when she became pregnant. Claire works hard and has little contact with her colleagues. Accidentally, she comes into contact with Madame Mélikian, an older woman who has an embroidery studio where she makes dresses for top designers from Paris.

----- end fragment -----

Is the sentence "The flaming ... pregnant" correct? I first wanted to use the simple past for all the verbs, because of the Adverbial Phrase "when she became pregnant". But then I remembered that "always" is a marker for the present perfect. So that's why I have mixed tenses in my main clauses, which seems awkward. Can anyone shed some light on the grammar of this sentence?

Thanks a lot,

JJ S
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IAmWithName2Hi all,

Just when I thought I understood (almost) everything there is to know about the present perfect and the simple past I stumbled over a translation from Dutch I made --the problematic sentence is bold:

----- begin fragment -----

Seventeen-year-old Claire lives on her own in a studio in the provincial town of Angoulême, where she works as a cashier in a hypermarché. She spends her little spare time designing and embroidering clothing.

The flaming red-haired teenager has always had a troublesome relationship with her parents and ran away from home when she became pregnant. Claire works hard and has little contact with her colleagues. Accidentally, she comes into contact with Madame Mélikian, an older woman who has an embroidery studio where she makes dresses for top designers from Paris.

----- end fragment -----

Is the sentence "The flaming ... pregnant" correct? I first wanted to use the simple past for all the verbs, because of the Adverbial Phrase "when she became pregnant". But then I remembered that "always" is a marker for the present perfect. So that's why I have mixed tenses in my main clauses, which seems awkward. Can anyone shed some light on the grammar of this sentence?

Thanks a lot,

JJ S

The mixed tenses are ok as long she's had this troublesome relationship up to the present time. In other words, regardless of leaving home, she can still have a troublesome relationship with her parents if she still sees them, of course, but that depends on the story.
Hi,

Seventeen-year-old Claire lives on her own ....The flaming red-haired teenager has always had a troublesome relationship with her parents and ran away from home when she became pregnant.

Is the sentence "The flaming ... pregnant" correct? Yes. It seems fine to me, quite stylish. I first wanted to use the simple past for all the verbs, because of the Adverbial Phrase "when she became pregnant". You could use Simple Past. However, the Present Perfect tells me the troublesome relationship continued up to the present time. The Simple Past doesn't tell me that. So, it depends on what you mean to tell me. But then I remembered that "always" is a marker for the present perfect. I don't see anything wrong with saying 'She always had a troublesome relationship ...' So that's why I have mixed tenses in my main clauses, which seems awkward. I don't know why you think mixed tenses are awkward. 'I have loved you since the day I met you, and I will always love you'. Rather nice, really.

Best wishes, Clive

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CliveHi,

Seventeen-year-old Claire lives on her own ....The flaming red-haired teenager has always had a troublesome relationship with her parents and ran away from home when she became pregnant.

Is the sentence "The flaming ... pregnant" correct? Yes. It seems fine to me, quite stylish. I first wanted to use the simple past for all the verbs, because of the Adverbial Phrase "when she became pregnant". You could use Simple Past. However, the Present Perfect tells me the troublesome relationship continued up to the present time. The Simple Past doesn't tell me that. So, it depends on what you mean to tell me. But then I remembered that "always" is a marker for the present perfect. I don't see anything wrong with saying 'She always had a troublesome relationship ...' So that's why I have mixed tenses in my main clauses, which seems awkward. I don't know why you think mixed tenses are awkward. 'I have loved you since the day I met you, and I will always love you'. Rather nice, really.

Best wishes, Clive



Well said Clive, well said!


IAmWithName2 But then I remembered that "always" is a marker for the present perfect.

'Always' doesn't have to go with the present perfect.

Hi all,

Clive and Jussive, thank you!

It is all a lot clearer now.

It seems that my original sentence ("The flaming red-haired teenager has always had a troublesome relationship with her parents and ran away from home when she became pregnant.') conveys what I meant it to. I think that the relationship is troublesome up till now, so the present perfect seems to be appropriate.

Clive wrote:

>>I don't know why you think mixed tenses are awkward. 'I have loved you since the day I met you, and I will always >>love you'. Rather nice, really.

I think you are quite right. I am afraid that all those present perfect/simple past exercises I have been doing lately contain rather unnatural examples, which led me in the wrong direction. The only thing I am still a bit unsure about is whether in the Dutch text the present perfect expresses ongoing trouble. But that's off-topic. Fortunately, English is a lot more precise in this respect!

Jussive wrote:

>>'Always' doesn't have to go with the present perfect

I don't know why I thought that. Thanks for correcting me.
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I think the trouble here (and it is fairly minor trouble at that) is the conjoining of a general fact with the evidence supporting that fact, and not the relationship of the tenses.
The following sentence shows the same sort of anomaly.

He has always had trouble with stage fright and stuttered through his entire speech last week.

Here, as in your original suspect sentence, we are expected to make the logical leap -- without the aid of any transition words except "and" -- that the second clause illustrates the general idea presented in the first clause. Maybe the 'correction' should be viewed as stylistic rather than grammatical. Separating the thoughts into two sentences might improve the presentation of the ideas.

He has always had trouble with stage fright. [This is clear from the fact that / In fact, / For example,] he stuttered through his entire speech last week.

(I'm sure someone can come up with better transitions than these. I just mentioned a few to give the general idea of the sort of thing I mean.)

CJ