0

I'm Korean and studying English for speaking. I have a question about the context of present perfect tence.

If I say:

He has worked there for 3 years.

does this imply that he is still working at the moment of speaking?

I asked another question to my teacher. If I slept 12AM and woke up at 7AM, can I text

I have slept for 7 hours.

to somebody at 7:02AM? My teacher says yes. Although I'm not sleeping at 7:02AM, I can use the present perfect tense.

To summarize, I would like to know what does "He has worked there for 3 years" mean.

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Mar 5 '17 at 14:32

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

  • @Cascabel: I think you mean "simple past" when you say "simple present"; and the last part of your comment repeats the oversimplification which underlies the question. See my Answer. – Colin Fine Feb 27 '17 at 20:56
  • @ColinFine Gosh, I feel silly. That is indeed what I meant. Thanks. What I was trying to say is that most people do not use perfect constructions in everyday speech. – Cascabel Feb 27 '17 at 20:59
  • 1
    @Cascabel: that does not accord with my experience. This may be a US/UK difference: I believe the perfect is used less in US than UK English. – Colin Fine Feb 27 '17 at 23:02
  • @ColinFine I am sure it is. It works the same in Spanish usage also, on different sides of the ocean. – Cascabel Feb 27 '17 at 23:03
  • related: Perfect vs Perfect Continuous – Mari-Lou A Mar 5 '17 at 13:55
3

As always, the choice of the perfect does not necessarily have a specific meaning.

It has the general meaning "This is a past event with present relevance", but the specific kind of present relevance can vary.

It might be that the activity is continuing into the present:

He's been cleaning that room for hours.

It might be that the activity has only just finished:

He's been travelling all day to get here

It might be that the consequence of the activity is still current.

I've lifted the boxes off the floor.

It might be that the activity is located in a longer time period which includes the present:

I've seen him three times today.

So, in your examples, "He has worked there for three years" probably means that he is still working there, but there are other possible meanings. For example:

Why did they give him such a generous leaving present? Well, he's worked there for three years.

("He worked there for three years" would also be possible: the choice of the perfect suggests that his leaving is very recent).

Similarly, "I've slept for seven hours" is quite normal, if you've just woken up, or if the context for the remark is a longer period including the sleeping:

What have you done today? I've slept for seven hours.

But it would be strange to answer "What did you do last night" that way, because "last night" is a period which has finished.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy