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Hi. In beginning paragraphes, which is copied for this inquiry, in a YAHOO! NEWS article titled "Newest US troops in dangerous region near Kabul" by JASON STRAZIUSO, dated Monday, February 16th, 2009, we can see there are some present perfect tenses and past tenses. I wonder why use present perfect tenses for some and past tenses for some others. What it the reason. I could very well have used all present perfect tenses.

Can we use a present perfect in two places, for the word "began" after the word "process" in the second paragraph and for the word "moved" after a dash in the fourth paragraph?

I realize we use a past tense when noted an action that is completed or finished but that doesn't seem to help greatly. Help.

Newest US troops in dangerous region near Kabul

  • LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Close to 3,000 American soldiers who recently arrived in Afghanistan to secure two violent provinces near Kabul have begun operations in the field and already are seeing combat, the unit's spokesman said Monday.
The new troops are the first wave of an expected surge of reinforcements this year. The process began to take shape under President George Bush but has been given impetus by President Barack Obama's call for an increased focus on Afghanistan.

U.S. commanders have been contemplating sending up to 30,000 more soldiers to bolster the 33,000 already here, but the new administration is expected to initially approve only a portion of that amount. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday the president would decide soon.

The new unit — the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division — moved into Logar and Wardak provinces last month, and the soldiers from Fort Drum, N.Y., are now stationed in combat outposts throughout the provinces.
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Comments  
I don't believe all of the past tense uses could optionally be "upgraded" to present perfect. For example:
The process began to take shape under President George Bush
Robert Gibbs said Monday the president would decide soon.
The new unit - - - moved into Logar and Wardak provinces last month,

You could move these three to past perfect, not present perfect.

There seems also to be a lot of simple present here.

The use of present perfect is a common device used to make the past events seem more recent, and to stress that their influence is still felt.

The only past tense I see which could be moved up is, "American soldiers who [have] recently arrived in Afghanistan"

Re the Robert Gibbs phrase, I know reporters like to say things like, "Robert Gibbs has said as recently as last Monday," but I'm not sure if it's correct. (Mebby so)
No, you cannot use the present perfect in those two places. First look at the present perfect used in the first paragraph, "have begun." The helping verb (or auxiliary verb) "have" indicates the past, the participle "begun" indicates the present. In other words, they started the process and they are still continuing it. It is an ongoing action. With "began" in the second paragraph, the beginning is over. The process that the text refers to is "the first wave." Since that wave is finished, it is a competed action and you cannot use the present perfect. The same applies to "move." The text says that they moved "last month." Again, it is a completed action, so you must use the past tense. Any time you are given an explicit time period in the past like "last month" or "last year" it will be in the past tense. Also, going back to the first example, the text says "Under George Bush." He is no longer in office, so basically it is equivalent to a time period in the past. However Barack Obama's term is ongoing, which is why that sentence is in the present perfect, "have been given." I hope this helps!
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Newest US troops (are) in dangerous region near Kabul (Headline style omitting verb.)
  • LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Close to 3,000 American soldiers who recently arrived (This happened at some definite point in time.) in Afghanistan to secure two violent provinces near Kabul have begun operations (This is where the situation stands now. No information about the exact time of this beginning.) in the field and already are seeing combat (This is happening now.), the unit's spokesman said Monday.


The new troops are (This identifies them.) the first wave of an expected surge of reinforcements this year. The process began to take shape (This happened at some definite point in time; when Bush was president, in fact -- which he isn't anymore.) under President George Bush but has been given impetus (This is where things stand now. The exact time of this impetus is not specified; it's not regarded as important.) by President Barack Obama's call for an increased focus on Afghanistan.

U.S. commanders have been contemplating (This has been going on for some unknown amount of time and is continuing.) sending up to 30,000 more soldiers to bolster the 33,000 already here, but the new administration is expected to (Speculation about the future.) initially approve only a portion of that amount. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday (This happened at some definite point in time; Monday, in fact.) the president would decide soon (Possible future event.)

The new unit — the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division — moved into Logar and Wardak provinces (This happened at some definite point in time; last month, in fact.) last month, and the soldiers from Fort Drum, N.Y., are now stationed in combat outposts (This is where the situation is now.) throughout the provinces.
______

The p
resent perfect tense cannot be used when a definite time is mentioned or implied by the writer. Definite times are expressed by adverbs that represent times that do not extend into the present like Monday, yesterday, and last month, and by subordinate phrases and clauses that serve the same purpose, like when I was young, before they left, in the 1800's, earlier this morning, and during the Clinton administration.

CJ
Thank you, Avangi, Anonymous and CalifJim. I think I am fortunate to have all that help from you all.

CalifJim wrote:

The present perfect tense cannot be used when a definite time is mentioned or implied by the writer. Definite times are expressed by adverbs that represent times that do not extend into the present like Monday, yesterday, and last month, and by subordinate phrases and clauses that serve the same purpose, like when I was young, before they left, in the 1800's, earlier this morning, and during the Clinton administration.

So, are you saying these are wrong? I have borrowed some of your subordinate phrases to make these.

He has asked many questions on this subject when I was young/before they left/in the 1800's/earlier this morning.

But I believe this is right.

He has asked many questions on this subject in the past year.
Hi. I had another question but I forgot to ask it in the last post.

Maybe I am far off but I think Anon alluded to the fact that we can use of past perfect to denote something (possbly an action?) that started earlier and has not completed or finished. So, can we say that context will tell whether we are using past perfect to denote an action that is completed but has relevance and that is ongoing (but started earlier)?

He has completed many projects at my company for the past two years.

Would you say that unless there is more context, we can deduce that he either continues doing the project after having done many projects previously or left the (his?) company and he has finished doing projects for that company?

Sorry, one more question:

If someone is writing a recommendation for a student who left his school to go to college. Could he use the present perfect tense? I think we could if the period between the student's leaving and the person's writing a recommendation is brief.

I am happy to inform that he has performed well when he was in our school, always staying at the top ten percent of his class.

Or,

He has accomplished so much during his three years in our school and I recommend him wholeheartly.
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Anonymous He has asked many questions on this subject in during the past year.
He has completed many projects at my company for during the past two years.

I am happy to inform you that he has performed well when he was in while at our school, always staying at the top ten percent of his class.

He has accomplished so much during his three years in our school and I recommend him wholeheartly.

I think these work fine as long as there's no specific suggestion that it's over, especially as in the third one.

Somehow the preposition "during" (the past year) does not suggest completion, while "in" and "for" do, at least to my ear. They seem to ask for the past perfect, "had asked; "had completed."
But if you use the past tense, even with "during," completion is assumed: He asked many questions on this subject during the past year.

- A.

AnonymousSo, are you saying these are wrong? .. He has asked many questions on this subject when I was young/before they left/in the 1800's/earlier this morning.
Yes. I am saying they are wrong. You cannot use the present perfect with any stated or implied point in time or period of time which does not include the moment of the utterance itself. My youth, the time before their leaving, the 1800's, and any point in time earlier this morning are all such that they do not include the present moment.
AnonymousBut I believe this is right. He has asked many questions on this subject in the past year.
Yes. It's right. Or, as Avangi suggests, during the past year. But note that the use of the present perfect forces a reading of past year where the year consists of the 12 most recent months ending today. With the present perfect there can be no gaps of time between the past and the present, so to speak.

CJ
AnonymousIf someone is writing a recommendation for a student who left his school to go to college. Could he use the present perfect tense?
Yes, but not together with a mention of a definite time.
AnonymousI am happy to inform that he has performed well when he was in our school, always staying at the top ten percent of his class.
The part in red is what "spoils" the sentence. Leave it out, and it's fine. (Or remove has.)
AnonymousHe has accomplished so much during his three years in our school, and I recommend him wholeheartedly.
Provided that not much time has elapsed between the end of the three-year school period and the writing of this recommendation, the present perfect is fine, because you, the writer, can conceptualize the school period as extending up to the writing of the letter. What is actually stated leaves this vague, so it's OK, but you could not write

He has accomplished much during his three years in our school 10 years ago, and ...


CJ
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