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Hello,

I have these sentences in the textbook Enterprise 3, Workbook, p. 16.

A: I haven´t seen you for ages.! Where have you been?

B: I went to Malta for a three week holiday.

This says the Answer key. However, I would prefer past simple in the sentence "Where have you been?", so I would prefer: "Where were you?" because B isn´t abroad or away any more, they couldn´t have this conversation otherwise.

Compare present perfect in these sentences: I have lost my key. (I still don´t have it.) She has been in Malta for two years. She is still there. However:

x She has been to Malta. (She isn´t there anymore. ?)

Any comments ? Thank you Mowgli
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Well, I'm not that comfortable with B's answer to A. Logically, the answer uses the same tense as the question. Could be "I've just come back from a 3-week holiday in Malta", or 'Oh, I've been places... I went to Malta, Belgium, South Africa, so I haven't been here much..." Wait for a native's advice!
Hello Mowgli
Mowgli I would prefer past simple "Where were you?" because B isn´t abroad or away any more, they couldn´t have this conversation otherwise.
To me, "I went to Malta for a 3 week holiday" sounds natural as the answer. I interpret A might ask "Where have you been?" because A doesn't know when B came back exactly. The use of present perfect tense is convenient when one cannot be sure when the past event happened. But, as for B, of course B knows well the time when B self returned (it might be three days ago, for example), and the use of the simple past in the answer suggests B has already a feeling the visit to Malta was a mere past event.
MowgliCompare present perfect in these sentences: I have lost my key. (I still don't have it.) She has been in Malta for two years. She is still there. However: x She has been to Malta. (She isn´t there anymore. ?)
You are right. "Have been a place" (without "for a period")) is saying simply "have a past experience of staying the place". On the other hand, "have been a place for a period" is saying "have a past experience of staying the place and the experience is still continuing"). As you said, "I have lost my key" implies "I don't have the key", and "I have been there" (without a for-phrase) implies "I am not there now". The difference in the implication between "have lost something" and "have been somewhere" comes from the difference in the aspect nature between the verb "lose" and "be"; "lose" is a dynamic verb and "be" is a stative verb.

When present perfect tense applies to dynamic verbs, the sentence connotes the result of the action still exists. But if there are any word like 'ever', 'never', 'once', 'often', 'before', etc, the sentence is just saying a past experience. The time adverbial plays an important role in the meaning of the present perfect sentence. "I have lost my wallet yesterday" implies "I haven't still found it and I am worrying about it". But "I have my wallet several times" means just "I had several experiences of losing my wallet in the past". The time adverbial is also important in the present perfect sentence using a stative verb. "I have stayed here for two days" implies the state is still continuing. But "I have stayed in the hotel twice in my life" means "I" have two past experiences of staying in the hotel. Messy? Yes, to us learners, the present perfect sentences are really messy and tough to take the exact meaning.

paco
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I will respond only to the A and B dialogue, because A and B don't relate that well, as Pieanne says.

First of all, 'for ages' generally suggests a period longer than three weeks, (yes, occasionally, such phrases are used hyperbolically).

So B, here, is not responding to the idea of not having been seen for ages. If A had said, "I haven't seen you for three weeks. Where have you been?" The proper grammatical answer for B would be, "I've been in Malta."

However, when A asks, "I haven't seen you for ages; where were you?" (the implication is where were you for all that time?), then B should, at least, say 'I was in Malta for a three-week holiday.' But, because 'for ages' is more than three weeks time, B should have more to say, like, "Before that I was in...", or "After that, I was..."
Paco2004 "I have lost my wallet yesterday" implies "I haven't still found it and I am worrying about it". But "I have x my wallet several times" means just "I had several experiences of losing my wallet in the past".
paco
Paco, I wouldn't say "I've lost my wallet yesterday"... "yesterday" doesn't fit with present perfect, at least to my ears! How about "I've been looking for my wallet since yesterday", or "Hell, I've lost my wallet! (= I can't find it now). Yesterday I went to the restaurant, and then to the movies... I must have left it in the restaurant."

And a little typo: I think you dropped "left" between "have" and "my"! Emotion: smile
Interesting. I don't find the present perfect/simple past alternation in the original dialogue strange. Does this also sound odd to anyone?

"MrQ! I haven't seen you for ages! Have you been away?"
"Yes, we went to Malta for a few days. We only got back last night."

MrP
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In this version, however:


A: I haven´t seen you for ages! Where were you?

B: I went to Malta for a three week holiday.
– the question sounds a little brusque, for some reason; almost accusatory.

MrP
MrPedantic– the question sounds a little brusque, for some reason; almost accusatory.

I"m sure you could conjure up two contexts. One that sounds brusque and accusatory, and one that doesn't.
MrPedantic Does this also sound odd to anyone?

"MrQ! I haven't seen you for ages! Have you been away?"
"Yes, we went to Malta for a few days. We only got back last night."

To me it does, even more than the oddness of the original, since in answering only the second part, it dismisses the first part that is definitely exclamatory. MrQ's answer does not satisfy the essence of the question.
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