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1. SENTENCES:

1. What are you doing? I (tell) ______ you not to touch my suitcase!

2. What an unusual print! Where (you find) __________ it?

In both cases the grammar book gives me as keys the simple past ("I told you..." and " did you find it?") and so I told my students.

Anyway some of them put the present perfect and asked me why their answers were uncorrect. They said they chose the ppbecause there's a link between present and past. I was unable to give them any explanation... Emotion: embarrassed

Actually, I'm in two minds too, especially regarding sentence n.2, but my students need an answer to clarify their doubts (and so do I...) :-(

What I ask you is:

- as for sentence n. 1, I would use the simple past just because it sounds me better, but is the pp uncorrect? If so, why?

- as for sentence n. 2: me, too, I would have used the present perfect, because the first part of the sentence shows me the print is there, before me.... Why is the past tense the only correct tense, instead? What' s the rule behind?

Thank you in advance for your help!

PlP
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Comments  
Not particularly easy to explain, Anxiety. Both sentences could possibly take present perfect, but if so, they really require more context.

1-- Simple past: as a matter of fact, the speaker wished to stress that the warning came clearly in the past. Present perfect would have a better chance of acceptance if there were more context: Are you doing it again? I've told you a million times not to touch my suitcase!

2-- Simple past again. The print is clearly found, as in an art shop, but was not particularly looked for at length, and is obviously new to the speaker (What an unusual...). Present perfect does not work well here; the item is found-- a discrete action in the past. On the other hand, searching for it would easily take present perfect: Where did you find it? I've been looking for a print like that for ages!

As the original sentences stand, neither presents a grammatical or semantic link between past and present worthy of using present perfect. The past is always there before us: this computer I bought in 2002, this coffee cup my wife gave me in 1998-- the simple juxtaposition of past and present does not of itself call for the use of present perfect. The link must be stronger than that: the event must be still occurring (or not yet occurring, or occurring repeatedly) or significantly just finished.

I have been looking for that print for years.
I have never found it.
I have looked each time I've gone into the city.
And at last-- I have finally found it!

Mister Micawber The link must be stronger than that: the event must be still occurring (or not yet occurring, or occurring repeatedly) or significantly just finished.

I have been looking for that print for years.
I have never found it.
I have looked each time I've gone into the city.
And at last-- I have finally found it!
I had to read you answer at least 3 times before catching it, but at the end I think I got it!

As a teacher, I've always spoken about the pp + its evident results in the present, so the sentences craeted confusion in my pupils and myself...

So, if I catched it properly, in both the sentences the action occurred significantly in the past, no matter - of course! - the tense in the first part of each. If the action had been still in progress or repeated, the pp would have been the right tense to use!

Thank you so much, Mr Micawber: today I've learned something more! Emotion: big smile
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What tense would we use to talk about inventions. For example, woud you say

"Addison discovered electricity (simple past because it happened at a time known to most people though the speaker may not remember the year)?

or

Addison has discovered electricity (present perfect becasue his invention is still used today and thus still connected to the present)?"

simple past vs present perfect still poses a challenge even to teachers of English around the world as in my school, the teacher chose to use the present perfect even though I feel that the simple past is the only right answer.

Your help is much appreciated.
Simple past. Its connection to the present, that is, its present use, is not the point.
Anxiety1. SENTENCES:

1. What are you doing? I (tell) ______ you not to touch my suitcase!

2. What an unusual print! Where (you find) __________ it?

In both cases the grammar book gives me as keys the simple past ("I told you..." and " did you find it?") and so I told my students.

Anyway some of them put the present perfect and asked me why their answers were uncorrect. They said they chose the ppbecause there's a link between present and past. I was unable to give them any explanation... Emotion: embarrassed

Actually, I'm in two minds too, especially regarding sentence n.2, but my students need an answer to clarify their doubts (and so do I...) :-(

What I ask you is:

- as for sentence n. 1, I would use the simple past just because it sounds me better, but is the pp uncorrect? If so, why?

- as for sentence n. 2: me, too, I would have used the present perfect, because the first part of the sentence shows me the print is there, before me.... Why is the past tense the only correct tense, instead? What' s the rule behind?

Thank you in advance for your help!

PlP

Hi Anxiety,

In my opinion, if we really want to nitpick and be speech-perfect, I would use Pres. Perfect on # 1 and just a simple past tense for # 2.

For # 1, I feel that to stress the point, [I have told you ( many times) not to touch…] has much more semantical and lexical effect than . Present perfect carries an annotation of an on-going message which works well in this context.

For # 2, In contrary with the context of an [unusual print], [where did you fin fit?] is much more idiomatic and logically correct because [where have you found that print] just sounds unfitting due to the fact that once you found something, the act of finding is completed. Having said that, in many context, [have found] are much more prevailing.

i.e. After failing two marriages, he has finally found his soul mate in Jennifer..

He tried several careers in the past ten years. I think Jack has finally found the job he likes which is being a policeman.
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What tense would we use to talk about inventions?
Use simple past if the invention or discovery is well known and has been known for a long time.
Use present perfect only if the invention or discovery is very recent and/or unknown by most people, and you wish to announce it as if it is late-breaking news.

Electricity was known by the ancients, so there's no chance that its discovery can be considered a hot news item. The very fact that we don't need to explain what electricity is argues for the use of the simple past.

In contrast, suppose hyperionization (a made-up phenomenon) is discovered. A newspaper might announce this as:
Professor Johnson has (recently) discovered a new phenomenon called hyperionization, which he claims will be of invaluable use to mankind.

Note that some explanation of the new term is required. The journalists are not just going to say.
Professor Johnson has discovered hyperionization or Professor Johnson discovered hyperionization.
because nobody even knows yet what it is, and these formulations assume that the reader does know what hyperionization is (and may even have been looking forward with great anticipation to its discovery).

Note that a similar set of criteria is used to report deaths. We don't say Shakespeare has died or Beethoven has died. These events are not recent enough to be currently newsworthy, and almost everyone would know that.

CJ
Thanks Mister.

Thanks Calif. I like your lucid explanation. Your elaboration on the answer of Mister is greatly appreciated! I dont think any grammar book could provide the help that you do. Thanks a ton!
CalifJimA newspaper might announce this as:
Professor Johnson has (recently) discovered a new phenomenon called hyperionization, which he claims will be of invaluable use to mankind.

Note that a similar set of criteria is used to report deaths. We don't say Shakespeare has died or Beethoven has died. These events are not recent enough to be currently newsworthy, and almost everyone would know that.

CJ

Hi, I feel I'm learning something new. I would have said "Professor Johnson (recently) discovered a new..." or "Good evening. President Flush died." Always simple past, I'm afraid to use the present perfect sometimes.

I've always thought that when the present perfect is used, there's always a kind of implicit yet, up to now, so far. Ex: "I have seen that movie" - which corresponds to a question like "Have you seen that movie (yet...)?"
Plus, I've always thought that in those cases (in which I use the present perfect), the simple past tense would be fine as well. This fact leads to my simple rule: "When in doubt, use the simple past" (rule for American English).

Anyway, it seems I have to add something to what I know. It seems we can use the present perfect when something happens in a time frame that ends now, and we don't know exactly when that fact happened, maybe it just happened (I heard this in a movie "Oh no, Lightning Mc Queen has blown a tire!").
But I don't feel confident at all. I mean, wouldn't it be fine to just say "Oh no, Lightning Mc Queen blew a tire!"?
And if you found out that there's something wrong, what would you say? "Oh no, someone [has eaten / ate] all my french fries!" - "Oh no, someone [has broken / broke] my favourite Chinese vase!" (I would use the past simple)

Thanks

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