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Question 1.

A: How long have you lived there?

B: I have lived there all my life.

For B, why we can't use "live" instead of Present Perfect "have lived"? Present simple suggests that person B has live there all his life and will probably live there the rest of his life.

Question 2.

A: Have you ever studied any other languages?

B: Yes, I learnt German for two years when I was at school.

For B, why can't we use "have learnt" instead of Simple Past "learnt"?

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Question A: How long have you lived there? B: I have lived there all my life.

1) You use the present perfect in /I have lived there all my life/ because at the time of speaking your proposition began in the past and it is still true in the present. You have to imagine the timeline when using verbs in English. Past___Present____Future = the Timeline. If something began in the past and is still true, you need PP.

Simple present is for general propositions that are true in the present at time of speaking: I live in Paris. I live my life to the fullest.

2) Have you ever studied any other languages? B: Yes, I learnt German for two years when I was at school.

Yes, I studied [not the verb learn here] German for two years when I was at school.

The reason: when I was at school. At the time of speaking, you are no longer in school. The condition of being at school is over and finished.

NB: I prefer /to study a language/ than /to learn a language/here. But that is a separate discussion.

  • I understand the latter but not the former. What's the difference between "I have lived there all my life" and "I live there all my life", both are true in the present at the time of speaking. – English Guy - David Jan 14 '17 at 16:55
  • I told you: If something STARTS in the past and is still true at the time of speaking, you cannot use the simple present to express it. /***How long***/ implies an action or attitude that started in the past. (Unless you want to use it as a future). Any action or attitude that begins in the past (How long, Since when etc.) cannot be expressed by a verb in the present simple. The possibilities are: How long DID you live, How long HAVE you lived, How long HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING. All actions that started in the past. I live in Oslo is now, and does not mention any past. – Lambie Jan 14 '17 at 17:11
  • @English Guy - David What an odd name for someone asking questions here. :) Just saying... – Lambie Jan 14 '17 at 17:14
  • Just for confirmation, Simple Present Tense is something that starts and ends constantly and habitually over a period of time and yet continues at the time of speaking. But present perfect is something that starts and continues (but no ends) at the time of speaking. And, many thanks for the analytical explanation you provided. – English Guy - David Jan 14 '17 at 17:21
  • No, not starts and ends constantly. Simple Present describes a situation or action that just is in the present. No, PP does not END at the time of speaking. It starts in the past and continues to be true at the time of speaking. I have lived in Oslo for two years (implies: I still live there). – Lambie Jan 14 '17 at 17:24

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