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"Up to Now"

Expressing duration

Tower of Pisa
 

 

Past vs. Present Perfect

COMPLETED

Use past tense to report that an action happened sometime in the past.  The activity is completed.

Construction started in 1173. (emphasis on completion)

Builders added a third story in 1185.

The soil foundation failed under the tower in 1185.

Officials closed the tower during the 1980s.

The tower was reopened in 2001.

past time line

HAVING DURATION

Use present perfect to focus on the duration of a past action (possibly ongoing).

The Tower of Pisa has leaned to the south since its third story was added in 1274.  (emphasis on duration)

It has been ten years since the last tourist saw the view from the top of the Tower of Pisa.

Engineers have gradually reduced the lean by 14 centimeters so far. Their goal is 45 centimeters.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has been closed for ten years. (passive verb - past perfect tense)

The project has received $27,000,000 to date.

From past to present

 

fail (v.) – lose strength, become weak

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duration Verbs (and their inherent meanings)

Process vs. Punctual 

 

 

 

Verbs expressing general vs. detail activity

SIMPLE TENSE VERB TYPES

A verb expressing general activity, process without an end time, tends to be used in the nonprogressive form, but can also be used in the progressive with little difference in meaning.

GENERAL TERM FOR ACTIVITY

We have worked on the repairs for a year(focus: action)

They have been in Pisa for over two years(static verbs , live, reside)

He has traveled three thousand miles so far.

We have known the Kramers for several years. (.)

PROGRESSIVE TENSE VERB TYPES

A verb expressing detail activity, punctual with a beginning and an end, tends to be used in the progressive tense with a meaning of continuation and/or repetition. No adverb is required to indicate that the situation continues. 

DETAIL ACTIVITY (STARTS AND STOPS)

We have been repairing cracks in the walls. (DETAIL: locate, clean, fill, seal, etc.)

We have been visiting 11th century landmarks in Europe. ( see, photograph, tour, etc.)

He has been driving for a week. (drive, walk, pedal, etc.)

We have been taking trips with the Kramers for several years. (have dinner, go to games, play golf, etc.)

 

inherent meaning – existing in something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute

 

 

 

Process Verbs

UNSPECIFIED PAST DURATION REPETITION

A process verb has a meaning of occurring gradually over a period of time (duration). When no adverb is used, we understand the timing of the activity as occurring in the indefinite past.

A process verb (nonprogressive) occurs with a duration adverb (time-span) — for, since, so far, up to now, etc. Both simple and progressive present perfect express that something is undergoing a process.

A process verb with an adverb for repetition is unusual (unless the process ends and begins again.)

PROCESS ACTION CONTINUOUSLY REPETITIVELY

The tower has leaned(unspecified past)

The tower has leaned for many years.

The tower has been leaning for many years. (process, state)

*The tower has leaned several times.

(singular process)

The soil under the tower of Pisa has moved(unspecified past)

The soil under the tower of Pisa has moved for many years.

The soil has been moving for many years. (process)

*The soil under the tower of Pisa has moved several times.

(singular process)

The pollution  has worn away the stones. (unspecified past)

wear away – become weak

The pollution has worn away the stones for many years.

The tower has been leaning for many years. (process, state)

*The pollution has worn away the stones several times.

(singular process)

The balloon has deflated(unspecified past)

~The balloon has deflated for five minutes.

The balloon has been deflating for five minutes.  (process)

~The balloon has deflated several times.

(singular / multiple processes?)

The worker has wheezed(unspecified past)

wheeze – breathe with difficulty

~The worker has wheezed for ten minutes.

The worker has been wheezing for ten minutes.  (condition)

~The worker has wheezed several times.

(singular / multiple conditions?)

atelic – a verb or verb phrase that presents an action or event as being incomplete.  The tower leans.  (The verb can be used with a time-span adverbial such as "for a month", but not with a time-frame adverbial such as "within a month".) → The tower has leaned for several years. *The tower has leaned within a year.

* not or uncommonly used / ~ questionable usage 

 

 

 

Punctual Verbs

UNSPECIFIED PAST DURATION REPETITION

A punctual verb has a meaning of taking place with a clear beginning and end.  The situation has a terminal point beyond which it cannot continue.

A punctual verb (nonprogressive) occurs with a time-frame adverb such as in a month rather than  with a duration adverb (time-span) such as for a month . The progressive expresses a process..

A punctual verb can be repetitive unless the action can only occur once.  For example, a balloon only pops once, but it can bounce several times.

PUNCTUAL ACTION CONTINUOUSLY REPETITIVELY

The foundation has sunk. (unspecified past)

*The tower has sunk for many years.

The tower has been sinking for many years.

*The foundation has sunk several times.

(singular occurence)

The tower has fallen. (unspecified past)

*The tower has fallen for many years.

The tower has been falling for many years.

*The tower has fallen several times.

(singular occurence)

The work has begun¹. (unspecified past)

*The work has begun for many years.

*The tower has been beginning for many years.

*The work has begun several times. 

(singular occurence)

The balloon has popped(unspecified past)

*The balloon has popped for five minutes.

The balloon has been popping for five minutes. 

~The balloon has popped several times.

(singular occurence)

The worker has sneezed.   (unspecified past)

*The worker has sneezed for five minutes.

The worker has been sneezing for five minutes. (continuously & repeatedly)

The worker has sneezed several times.

(multiple occurence)

telic – a verb or verb phrase that presents an action or event as being complete.  The foundation has sunk.  (The verb can be used with a time-frame adverbial such as "in a month"., but not with a time-span adverbial such as "for a month") → The foundation has sunk in the last 200 years. *The foundation has sunk for 200 years.

inherent (adj.) – a natural part of something; cannot be separated from it
process verb – expresses an activity that occurs over time without a terminal point
punctual verb – expresses an activity with a clear beginning and end; sometimes called a "short action" (not necessarily short!)
wheeze (v.) – to breathe with difficulty and with a whistling sound: Asthma caused him to wheeze.

¹ Single occurence verbs — begin, finish, end  (die can be a process or a single event)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Present Perfect

Adverbs for Duration

 

 

 

Past vs. Present Perfect Adverbs

ADVERBS FOR COMPLETED ACTIVITIES

Past tense verbs are used with adverbs specifying a past time or frequency of occurrence. The emphasis is on action.

AT, IN, ON AGO, LAST

A specific time in the past (calendar or clock times)

A past time based on quantity or calendar units

at 6:00 AM(at noon, at midnight)

a day ago (second, minute, hour, , week, month, year)  

on January 10 (Thursday)

last night (week, month, winter, year) 

in January (month)  / in 2006  (year) /

yesterday

 

in the 1960s (the 1800s, the early times)

that Monday (week, month, year)  

 

those weeks (days, months, years) 

ADVERBS FOR DURATION

Present perfect verbs are used with adverbs specifying a period of duration or a start time in the past.

SINCE/FOR SO FAR /THIS…

Use with activities that began in the past and continue to the present. 

Use with activities that began in the indefinite past and continue to the present.  

since 6:00 AM (exact time – midnight, noon, this morning, July 2012)

so far( to date, up to now, until now)

for a minute (hour, day, week, month, year, decade, the time being)

over the past year (weeks, decades, centuries)

ever since then (Saturday, January, 2009, I met you) 

in my life (second, a while, an hour, the coming week,)

 

tonight(now, today – a time not yet passed)

 

this week (morning,  evening, week, month, year – a time not yet passed)

 

 

 

 

 

Present Perfect – with vs. without an averb

PRESENT PERFECT — ADVERB

A duration adverb clarifies (makes clear) the meaning of continuation — "up to now" and possibly longer.                       

DURATION

We have worked on the repairs for a year(up to now)

 

Photographers have filmed the repairs for a year

Pisans have watched the reconstruction for a year.

PRESENT PERFECT — NO ADVERB

Without an adverb or other context, the present perfect is understood as having occurred at an indefinite time in the past — either recently or as experience.

COMPLETED IN THE UNSPECIFIED

We have worked on the repairs.  (sometime in the past)

 

Photographers have filmed the repairs. 

Pisans have watched the reconstruction.

 

Pisan (n.) – a person from Pisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sentence Forms

Word Order

 

 

 

AUXILIARY VERB SUBJECT AUXILIARY VERB MAIN VERB ADVERB PHRASE TAG QUESTION
STATEMENT           
 

The tower

 

has stood

for a long time.

 

 

The engineers

 

have worked

for several years.

 

QUESTION          

Has 

the tower

 

stood   

for a long time?

 

Have

the engineers

ever 

worked   

there?

 

*TAG QUESTION          
 

The tower

 

has stood

for a long time,

hasn't it?

 

The engineers

 

have worked

for several years,

haven't they?

NEGATIVE          

 

The tower

hasn't

stood   

for a long time.

 

 

The engineers

haven't

worked   

for several years.

 

WITH AN ADVERB          
 

The tower

has  always

stood   

there.

 

 

The engineers

have  frequently

worked   

there.
 

 

*A tag question can also occur with a negative main sentence and a positive final question: The tower hasn't stood there for long, has it? (doubtful question)  

Related pages:  And so / too   |   Adverbs of Frequency    

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

ERROR SOLUTION

Where did you go on vacation?
"We have been to the beach this summer. (Has the experience ended?)
Solution - lightbulb  Pop-Q "Source"

We went to the beach this summer.  (completed)

We have been to the beach recently. (completed)

We have been vacationing at the beach this summer. (ongoing)

(If we are still at the beach, use present perfect progressive with "this summer". If we are talking about a recently completed trip, use past tense, or use present perfect with the adverb "recently".)
 

*The Leaning Tower of Pisa has been closed during the last decade.
   Present perfect is used with "during" under special conditions.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has been closed for a decade.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa was closed during the 1990s / during the summer.

*I haven't seen my family for six months ago.
   (After "for" use a quantity of time.)

I haven't seen my family for six months. (omit "ago")
I saw my family six months ago.  (Use past tense with "ago".)

* I went there since two months.
   (After "since" use an exact date.)

I've been going there for two months. (ongoing)
I went there for two months. (completed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

ESL and Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

ESL DESCRIPTION LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

"The present perfect is often used with since and for to talk about situations that began in the past and continue up to now. UUEG 3-1

  • Mrs. Olin has been a teacher since 2002. [since + a specific point in time (e.g., 2002, last May nine o'clock)]
  • She has been in this city for a year. [for + a length of time (e.g., two months, three years)]

 

"Grammars commonly distinguish four major uses of the present perfect: the continuative, the experiential (or 'existential') perfect, the resultive perfect, and the perfect of recent past."  (Huddleston  3 §5.3.2)

455.6 repetition up to now: I've commuted to work by bus this week.…  We can use the present perfect to say that something has happened several times up to the present.

455.7 continuation up to ow: I've known her for years.  We use the present perfect if we are thing about the past and present together.

456.7 today, this week, etc.: I haven't seen her this week  We prefer the present perfect if we are thinking of the whole period up to now.

458.8 Present Perfect (4): progressive  (or 'continuous')  In some cases, we can also use the simple present perfect to talk about actions and situations continuing up to the present:

  • How long have you been working with her?  [repetition, progressive]
  • How long have you known her? [continuous]

 

(Swan 455 - 458)

The continuative expresses a situation that began before the current time and continues up to the present.  It allows "atelic situations" (ones without a terminal point.)  The tense may be reinforced by time adjuncts, such as: for, since, ever since, up to now, etc.

  • He has lived in San Francisco ever since he married. [continuative] (imperfect aspectuality: ongoing)
  • He has lived in San Francisco. [non-continuative]  (an indefinite time in the past – perfect aspectuality: completed)

(Huddleston 3 §5.2)

 

 

 

Resources 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Pisa Perspective

The site of the Tower of Pisa
 

 

Read for Errors

The Tower of Pisa was the center of attention since a long time ago. For the people of Pisa, the tower has been a slightly imperfect bell tower to their cathedral.  For the Germans during World War II, the tower have been an observation tower and a landmark that deserved protection from bombing.

For architects, the tower has been an example of excellent 11th century design, which unfortunately was placed on a bad foundation. For tourists, the tower has been a reminder that people make mistakes and that some are very beautiful!  For me, this is a reminder that imperfection is more interesting than perfection.

architect (n.) – a person who designs the structure of a building

bombing (n.) – dropping of explosive missiles, destruction

center US-Eng / centre Br-Eng

deserve (v.) – have value, merit, be worthy

foundation  (n.) – the natural or prepared ground or base on which a structure rests.

landmark (n.) – a well-known structure (e.g., the Eiffel Tower)

perfection (n.) – the state or quality of being perfect, ideal, excellent

protection (n.) – safe-keeping

slightly (adj.) – a little

 

 

 

 

Decide whether the tense use is correct or incorrect

  1. Select your response correct or incorrect
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the check button to the left of the check-all button at the bottom.

 

1.
The Tower of Pisa was the center of attention since a long time ago.

   

2.
For the people of Pisa, the tower has been a slightly imperfect bell tower to their cathedral.

   

3.
For the Germans during World War II, the tower have been an observation tower and a landmark that deserved protection from bombing.

   

4.
For architects over the past 600 years, the tower is an example of excellent 11th century design, which unfortunately was placed on a bad foundation.

   

5.
For tourists today, the tower has been a reminder that people make mistakes and that some are very beautiful!

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

The Tower's Past, Present and Future

 

 

 

Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 6-15" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.
 

 (the lean – the amount that the tower moves from its perpendicular position)

13.

14.

15.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Washington Monument Closed

 

 

the Washington Monument
 

 

 

Read for Errors

On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, an earthquake has damaged the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The obelisk, which was under construction from 1848 to 1885, has stood as a memorial to George Washington since a 125 years.

The monument honoring the founding father, George Washington, has been a popular attraction with spectacular views of the Capitol, the White House and the Lincoln Memorial.

The National Park Service staff has maintained the tower since 1966 with occasional closures for maintenance and security.

After the earthquake, park inspectors have found cracks inside and outside of the stone structure.

The National Park Service has closed the monument temporarily until it can be repaired. 

Workers have been repairing cracks and strengthening the structure.

The work is lasted longer than expected.  The reopening date is unknown.

Businessman David Rubenstein has offered $7.5 million to match the government's $7.5 million to cover the cost of repairing the damage from the earthquake.

The public has been looking forward to the reopening of this monument on the Washington Mall.

earthquake (n.) – an event in nature in which the ground moves and shakes

 

obelisk – elongated pyramid-shaped monument

 

 

 

 

 

Edit for Errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the check buttons.

 

16.
On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, an earthquake has damaged the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.


17.
The obelisk, which was under construction from 1848 to 1885, has stood as a memorial to George Washington since a 125 years.


18.
The monument honoring the founding father, George Washington, has been a popular attraction with spectacular views of the Capitol, the White House and the Lincoln Memorial.


19.
The National Park Service staff has maintained the tower since 1966 with occasional closures for maintenance and security.


20.
After the earthquake, park inspectors have found cracks inside and outside of the stone structure.


21.
The National Park Service has closed the monument temporarily until it can be repaired. 


22.
Workers have been repairing cracks and strengthening the structure.


23.
The work is lasted longer than expected. The reopening date is unknown.


24.
Businessman David Rubenstein has offered $7.5 million to match the government's $7.5 million to cover the cost of repairing the damage from the earthquake.


25.
The public has been looking forward to the reopening of this monument on the Washington Mall.


 

The Washington Monument. The National Park Service 08 Jun 2013. Web. 01 Jul 2013 <nps.gov/wamo/historyculture/index.htm>