+0
What do these mean? If they're not correct, why?

1. I realized that you were the best thing that ever happened to me.
2. I realized that you were the best thing that has ever happened to me.
3. I realized that you were the best thing that had ever happened to me.

4. I realized that you are the best thing that ever happened to me.
5. I realized that you are the best thing that has ever happened to me.
6. I realized that you are the best thing that had ever happened to me.

Thanks. Sorry for the tiresome list.
1 2
Comments  (Page 2) 
Hello, JT and Mr. P.
We agree that the moment of speaking is at point 4. 'He' is saying that at some past point, [exactly when is not important] it came to him, ie. "he realized" that 'she' was the best thing that ever happened to 'him'. [Emphasis added.]


Are you guys talking about the same sentence?

Because, if you are, there's something weird about the quoted material. I think, JT, that you meant to write the following, didn't you?
We agree that the moment of speaking is at point 4. 'He' is saying that at some past point, [exactly when is not important] it came to him, ie. "he realized" that 'she' was the best thing that has ever happened to 'him'.


Or was it your unerring ability as a native speaker that led you to select the correct tense intuitively and unconsciously as needed in that final clause?

Well, it's something to think about anyway. Emotion: smile
JTT: My sincere apologies. I did not even have a chance to read your replies. The first thing I noticed was your request to delete the duplicate, which I did. You must have posted a reply to your own first reply (rather than two posts to the same previous post) because everything after that post disappeared - both copies. I assure you I did not do it on purpose. I have requested that the technical staff restore the post, but I'm not sure they can do it. Hopefully, you have a copy elsewhere or can remember the gist of it so that you could post it again.

CJ

* * *

OK. I got a response now. They say the posts are not retrievable. Truly sorry. Emotion: embarrassed
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
No apologies are necessary, Jim. I have no doubt that it was simply an inadvertant error. If you like, you can delete your previous one and this one. I hope that won't delete my next posting too.
And a good day to you, Mr P. I see your point. But they are different situations. It's not logical to suggest that one grammar pattern can extend to all situations; there are obvious semantic considerations.

Allow me to explain and then please point out where you feel I’ve erred.

As I’ve often mentioned; what is important to language choice; CONTEXT-CONTEXT-CONTEXT.

I cannot stress enough how important this is. But I’m sure you already know this. It’s important for ESLs to realize this, fed as they all were/are, with context poor example sentences.

The difference between your 1. & 2. is, “being the oldest can only be a singularity that occurs once at a given moment. Each of those moments represent a single instance. These separate instances cannot be gathered into a collective sense in the same way as the “nice things she has done” can be. “My oldest moments have been ... “ ????

Sentence 2 never happens because, though it is grammatical in form, it is ungrammatical in use. It’s a semantic absurdity. Well, one might suggest - indeed Mr P has - that the same applies to example 1. And you have a point, Sir, but only for some contexts.

Situation 1:
1A. I realized {THEN}/ you were the best thing / that HAD ever happened to me.

If this were written or if the speaker added a specific time adjunct, eg. ‘then’, the likelihood would be that or a simple past tense would be chosen.

{A little aside BUT NOTE WELL: either past perfect or simple past would work, yet many ESL sudents operate under the mistaken belief that when there are two past tense actions, one has to be marked by past perfect, [which one is it? I always forget. Emotion: wink]

Situation 2:
The speaker is face to face with his lady, holding her hands, gazing deeply into her eyes, expressing his deepest emotions.

1. I realized/ you were the best thing / that HAS ever happened to me.

makes the collection of things, all the things that have continued to reinforce that belief, and which collectively at the moment of speaking, could cause him to say,

1B. I realized (epiphany) {because of all you had been doing} you were the best thing {these things haven’t stopped} that HAS ever happened to me.

Using a in such a situation may well elicit a "Did you say 'had'?", from the lady, causing the speaker to immediately clarify that ‘she’ is indeed, still the best thing.

In speech, tense choice is much more fluid, because the context is much much richer and therefore, much easier to understand. Using is almost as if the speaker did insert a after , as in,

1B. I realized (epiphany) {because of all you had been doing} you were, ARE the best thing {these things haven’t stopped} that HAS ever happened to me.

A past tense can often be used where a present perfect can be used, more especially so in NaE but also in BrE.

CalifJim, I think, has helped to point this up. {see Jim's post} His confusion came because he thought I should have used instead of what I did use, .

Jim stated, “I think, JT, that you meant to write the following, didn't you?” The “following” referred to Jim's thinking that I should have, given my reasoning, chosen the present perfect, .

Since the only difference [SOMETIMES] between choosing a simple past tense or a present perfect is one of greater or lesser emotion/importance, my choice reflected that there was no need for me to add any importance to a simple statement of fact, a fact, it must be remembered, that is being VIEWED thru my eyes.

The ‘aspect’ choice [and it is more a choice of ‘aspect’ rather than ‘tense’] differs because of the situation, because of the relative importance of the finished action TO THE SPEAKER.

"I finished my homework." & "I've finished my homework." both describe the same finished event.

How do they differ? Consider;

Anne: [the sweater is Anne’s, and she’s warned her sister, time and again, not to wear it. She registers her displeasure with her Mom]
Maaaaaommm, she’s worn my sweater again. I’m gonna kill her!

But the 'aspect' differs if I comment of this situation.

JJT:

Choice 1. JTT: That girl’s sister wore her sweater.

Choice 2. JTT: That girl’s sister has worn her sweater. ???

Choice 2 is definitely strange because my interest in this affair is miniscule. BrE speakers make much greater use of the present perfect to discuss recent past events, but I will suggest that it may well be strange even for a BrE speaker to choose 2 given the circumstances.

{if it isn't strange to BrE speakers, then they sure don't know how to use the English language.Emotion: wink
I'm sorry, JT. You've explained your reasoning patiently, and I appreciate it; but I already knew what you meant.

In my version of your scene, the female in question responds extremely badly to your speaker's adventurous 'has'. All the way home, she thinks, "'has'? 'has'? I don't know...Maybe I prefer Tarquin after all...At least he understands the proper use of the present perfect..."

And she certainly won't be thinking, "Ah! he didn't say 'had', because then I would have had to say, 'did you say had?', in a rather arch kind of way! How clever of him!"

She'll just be thinking, how could he have realized then, 6 months ago, that I'd still be the best thing that had ever happened to him now, 6 months later?

The 'oldest' example may seem a different case. But in fact, it simply expresses the grammar through the meaning, and so makes the lack of logic more explicit.

MrP
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
In my version of your scene, the female in question responds extremely badly to your speaker's adventurous 'has'. All the way home, she thinks, "'has'? 'has'? I don't know...Maybe I prefer Tarquin after all...At least he understands the proper use of the present perfect..."


Good to hear from you again, Mr P.

This is the falsehood of prescriptions, Mr P. Yours is not an argument that defends why you proscribe something. The female in question, like all ENLs, responds to grammatical cues to show them meaning, not to check their speech against rules they learned in grade school.
And she certainly won't be thinking, "Ah! he didn't say 'had', because then I would have had to say, 'did you say had?', in a rather arch kind of way! How clever of him!"


And yet 'had' is perfectly grammatical. And it would be in keeping with the past perfect rule; "all the things done" were before "realized". But your intuitive sense of language overrules your prescriptive sense and deems 'had' a poor choice for obvious semantic reasons.
She'll just be thinking, how could he have realized then, 6 months ago, that I'd still be the best thing that had ever happened to him now, 6 months later?


See what I mean. This is the same trouble that Jim ran into in the new thread, "Conditional Tenses", http://www.EnglishForward.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=72154 .

It's ludicrous [not you, Mr P, the argument] to suggest that ENLs, in speaking, have to have completely parallel thoughts that match exactly to the rules of concord that are used in SOME writing situations.

This means that people have to complete every thought and put it into speech, before they start a new one. That, Mr P, is not something that reflects any kind of reality except a prescriptive one. Life and language don't offer much in the way of support for that view.

Just as we ENLs can easily replace the function words of headlines, [you have no problem with this use of English that doesn't come anywhere close to following SWE], we can fill in the blanks of things unspoken.
I fear we've lost the original poster.
Has anyone seen or heard from Jack? Emotion: sad
And she certainly won't be thinking, "Ah! he didn't say 'had', because then I would have had to say, 'did you say had?', in a rather arch kind of way! How clever of him!"

Perhaps my scenario is confusing; but here the f.i.q. thinks 'had is the natural choice', and wonders why your chap said 'has' instead.

I suspect we're not going to persuade each other on this one, though, JT (which will surprise regular visitors to this forum).

Jack, if you're still out there somewhere, and haven't decided to take up Hawaiian instead, I think the answer is: if the girl in question is remotely prescriptivistic, avoid #2. If on the other hand she's had a few drinks and has a fairly relaxed attitude to matters grammatical, you should be ok.

MrP

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.