I would like to know if it's possible to use the past simple tense in the following sentence:

Two mice .............. since we put the mousetrap in the kitchen.

  • were caught.

  • have been caught

  • 2
    I can't give you the formal rules involved, but as a native speaker, I can tell you the later is the correct choice. You could say "were caught" if you changed "since" to "after." Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 21:54
  • As Philip says, the past tense doesn't fit here. Have been (present perfect) covers the period from the day you put the mousetrap into the kitchen until the present (when the mousetrap remains in the kitchen). If you had taken the mousetrap out again after a few weeks, you could say the mice WERE caught while it was in the kitchen or after you had put it there. Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 22:18
  • So, if I wanted to talk about a past experience that occured and fully ended in the past, I couldn't use since ? Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 22:33

1 Answer 1

  • Present perfect if you would like to say that from the time you put the mousetrap until now, there have been two mice that got caught.

This is the most common situation

  • Simple past if you would like not to use since as a time marker but to suggest causality. In this case Since = As

Why was there a mouse in the kitchen yesterday?

-A mouse was caught since/as we put a mousetrap in the kitchen.

  • Lastly since as a time marker + simple past can occur if the action didn't last throughout the period.

Yesterday was the highest recorded temperature since 2007.

In this case we set up a period but the action is only punctual.

  • So, if I wanted to say that in a past experience that occured to me in the past, I got a result of 2 mice getting caught after setting the mousetrap up I wouldn't use since to mark the event of setting it up? Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 22:50
  • Indeed, best to use "after" in this case. That's what you used actually. 2 years ago just after setting up the mousetrap, I caught two mice
    – Jamesr
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 23:02
  • Let me get this clear, so I can't use since as a time linker to describe 2 consequent events that completely ended in the past? Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 23:14
  • try to write the sentence you have in mind. You can in some cases use since with the past perfect if you have already set up an anchor in the past. last month when I checked the kitchen, two mice had been caught since I first set the mousetrap
    – Jamesr
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 23:32
  • I am sorry to bother you again, but i have thought about it one more time and came up with this formula that i want to know if correct: "- I checked the kitchen and found that 2 mice were caught since i first put the mousetrap." Does the past simple tense fit in this sentence or not? Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 0:15

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