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Hi,
I think I already asked about this, but I'm not sure and I can't find the thread.

Yes, let's go. I really feel like watching a movie. It's been a while since I went to the movies.
Yes, let's go. I really feel like watching a movie. It's been a while since I saw a good movie.


Do native speakers use the verb tenses like that? (Notice there's not "last" or "last time" in those sentences, though)
Or are the following versions more common (or the only versions that sound fine)?

Yes, let's go. I really feel like watching a movie. It's been a while since I've gone to the movies.
Yes, let's go. I really feel like watching a movie. It's been a while since I've seen a good movie.


Thanks Emotion: smile
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Comments  
The short answer is that if you're talking about not having done something for a certain period of time, use the present perfect after since, and if you're talking about what you did some time ago, use the simple past.
_________

The long answer.

If
the meaning is

I have not ...+en for/in [a while / a long time / N months / ...],
where what you have not done is something that you (still) do occasionally or repeatedly or habitually, i.e., something that happens in "indefinite time",

then the same statement with the clauses "reversed" is

[It has / It's] been [a while / a long time / N months / ...] since I have ...+en.

Examples:

I haven't gone to the movies for a while.
It's been a while since I've gone to the movies.

I haven't seen a good movie in a long time.
It's been a long time since I've seen a good movie.

Shtupfort hasn't written a book on Martian humor in years.
It's been years since Shtupfort has written a book on Martian humor.
__________

The use of the simple past tends to suggest a one-time event, so the first of the pair doesn't make a lot of sense, not to mention the "reversed" form, which is equally awkward.

*I haven't graduated from high school in a long time.
*It's been a long time since I've graduated from high school.


When a definite event is involved (not a habitual situation), the pair is like this:

I ...+ed [a while / a long time / N months / ...] ago.
It's been [a while / a long time / N months / ...] since I ...+ed.
[Here it is not a question of not having done something for some indefinite period of time.]

I saw that movie a long time ago.
It's been a long time since I saw that movie.

[Note the definiteness of that movie compared with the indefiniteness of a good movie.]

Greenley won the football championship six months ago.
It's been six months since Greenley won the football championship.

My cousin Henry died four years ago.
It has been four years since my cousin Henry died.


To summarize:
... have not done that for a long time >> It's been a long time since ... have done that.
... did that a long time ago>> It's been a long time since ... did that.

These should suffice until all the counterexamples are found. Emotion: smile

CJ

P.S. Yes, native speakers do use the simple past at times when they really "mean to use" the present perfect.
Thank you very much Jim, I perfectly understand.
My understanding was the same as yours, I just wasn't completely sure. (And by the way, I'm almost sure I already asked about this or read something here, because I remember reading a similar explanation... but I couldn't find the thread).
Thanks again. Emotion: smile
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It's just as well you couldn't find the other thread. I probably had a different answer there, and this one is better. But ask again in a few months, and maybe I'll have an even better answer. Emotion: smile

CJ
Hi guys,
May I join this old thread and ask a question?
This is my first question on this forum, please forgive me if I do something wrong.

First of all, CalifJim, thanks for the explanation. It's very clear but I have some additional questions. What I want to clarify is the nature of the Present Perfect in the example "It's been a while since I've gone to the movies". As I understood, the speaker is saying that he has a habit to go to the movies and he hasn't gone there for a while. It is clear to me that "haven't gone for a while" is an action (or situation) that started in the past and includes the present moment. ------ [x---present] ---. Right? Now, my question is: if we say "...since I've gone to movies", we can't apply the same scheme, it can't be a durative action. There has been some real event of "I've gone to the movies" in the past that is connected to the present moment and that serves as a point of reference for the speaker, right? Does it mean a one-time event in a habitual sequence, a habit of going to the movies that the speaker has and that's why it's connected to the present moment?

One more question: all the examples with "since+past simple" you gave express some one-time event (died, graduated, won). But, what if I speak about my childhood when I had the habit to go to the zoo with my dad, a habit I don't have anymore, let's say my dad passed away), can I say "It's been a long time since I went to the zoo with my dad"? (meaning a regular action that happened repeatedly in the past). Is this possible?
I hope my question is comprehensible. Thanks in advance for your answer.
Welcome to English Forums! Emotion: smile
OshkaAs I understood, the speaker is saying that he has a habit to go to the movies and he hasn't gone there for a while. It is clear to me that "haven't gone for a while" is an action (or situation) that started in the past and includes the present moment. ------ [x---present] ---. Right? Now, my question is: if we say "...since I've gone to movies", we can't apply the same scheme, it can't be a durative action. There has been some real event of "I've gone to the movies" in the past that is connected to the present moment and that serves as a point of reference for the speaker, right? Does it mean a one-time event in a habitual sequence, a habit of going to the movies that the speaker has and that's why it's connected to the present moment?
In these patterns the since-clause since I've gone to the movies means 'since the last time I went to the movies' -- with the implication that the habit of movie-going might be taken up once again in the future. It does not conform to the typical use of the present perfect, as you have pointed out, so you may have to think of it as an idiomatic (non-standard) use of that tense.
Oshkaall the examples with "since+past simple" you gave express some one-time event (died, graduated, won). But, what if I speak about my childhood when I had the habit to go to the zoo with my dad, a habit I don't have anymore, let's say my dad passed away), can I say "It's been a long time since I went to the zoo with my dad"? (meaning a regular action that happened repeatedly in the past). Is this possible?
You bring up an unusual situation, where a formerly habitual action cannot be performed again because of the death of one of the participants. In this case I'd say It's been a long time since I used to go to the zoo with my dad.

CJ
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Thank you.
"...since I used to go..." definitely sounds better. But it is still not one-time event, isn't it?
I am just trying to confirm that the Past Simple can express a durative actions in this grammatical construction.
"It's been a long time since we were friends", "it's been a long time since I was a boy", etc. Are these examples ok?

As for Present Perfect, just one more question. Can we say that the difference between Past Simple and Present Perfect is that the first one represents an event as a past event not connected to the present moment and the other one represents the same event as a connected one and the speaker in the second case tries to underline that the event is one of habitual events that have happened and most likely are going to happen to the speaker in the Future?
CalifJim, thank you. I've posted the reply with a couple of questions above, but the quote's got lost.
Personally, this is my two cents...
"It's been a long time since I used to go to the zoo with my dad." sounds a bit like....too usual to me.

If the person whom you used to go to the zoo with is no longer living, I would say "I haven't been to the zoo for a long time since xyz passed away.
" It's been a long time since we were friends" doesn't make good grammatical sense. "Were" suggests past. "Has been.." suggests "past to present". I guess you meant to say " We had been friends for a long time" , but this friendship was interrrupted by an event. I think the pattern and the construction dicatate how "sicne" is used in the sentence. It can be used in past perfect and present perfect, context permitting. I have yet to see "since " used in a future context.
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