I have the sentence below:

I became a zoologist because animals have always fascinated me.

Although I've done a lot of exercises, I found it interesting why we use Present Perfect and Past Simple in this sentence. At first I assumed we should had written "had always fascinated" instead of "have always fascinated", but I think the reason is simple. My attitude to animals hasn't change yet, that's why despite the action of my becoming a specialist in this field is finished, animals are still fascinating me. I'm sorry if my explanation is a little awkward. Am I right?

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    As ever, Present Perfect implies relevance / continuity of state from some point in the past to time of utterance. You use it because animals still fascinate you - if they no longer did, you could use Past Perfect (... had always fascinated me). Or you could just use Simple Past (... because animals always fascinated me), which doesn't really imply anything about whether you still have that interest. Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 13:00
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    @FumbleFingers: The past perfect doesn't necessarily imply that the fascination is gone now. It simply establishes the fascination as having existed prior to and up to the moment of choosing to become a zoologist. One could append "... and I'm still fascinated by them after 50 years" or "...but that fascination ended when I was bitten by a snake on my first day on the job".
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 13:28
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    @TRomano: Hmm. I accept that if OP's example could in principle feature Past Perfect even if the speaker was still fascinated by animals, but just because it's possible to override this with a but clause doesn't make this a "natural" interpretation. Personally, I think that because the Present / Past Perfect distinction normally implies a still / no longer distinction, I'd probably interpret it in OP's context as implying I used to be a zoologist, but not any more. Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 13:44
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    @FumbleFingers: Consider: I finally asked your grandmother out on a date because I had always liked her. You have no grounds to infer that the speaker no longer likes the listener's grandmother. He could be the listener's grandpa.
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 14:00
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    @TRomano: We can assume that in that context, both speakers know perfectly well whether grandpa still likes grandma (or indeed, whether grandma is still alive). But given just I finally married her because I had always liked her, and no other context, I'd still probably assume that either the speaker no longer liked her, she'd passed away, or something like that. Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 14:09

1 Answer 1


This is called sequence of tenses.

  • I became a zoologist because animals have always fascinated me.

The part "animals have always fascinated me" began in the past and continues into the present. The part "I became a zoologist" occurred at a single occasion in the past.

If you want to say that "animals fascinated you" in the past but not any more you need to use the Past Perfect tense:

  • I became a zoologist because animals had always fascinated me. - This whole sentence is about the past.

Another source

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    Yes, it seems you have understood the timeline issue.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 13:52
  • @Lambie Could you please explain this, "I had become a zoologist because animals had always fascinated me." Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 14:01
  • @SovereignSun I had become a zoologist [before some other thing in the past that is not mentioned such as after getting married, or after finishing my thesis] in 1999.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 16:52

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