I've read before that present perfect describes my current status. Could anyone please explain this concept?

For example when i say "I've written something" how can this describe my status?

  • The pr.pf may describe your current status; it is not obliged to do so. – StoneyB on hiatus May 21 '17 at 13:27
  • Could you please explain in which cases it describe current status? Or any examples. – Abc May 21 '17 at 14:10
  • @Mmm I think the current relevance is understood by the listener; it's not explicitly stated. So without a sufficient context, I think it's really hard to explain. We have a cannonical post covering this topic. I hope you read it :) – user178049 May 21 '17 at 14:46

I, too, recommend the Canonical Post which user178049 links—I wrote it, so I pretty much have to!—but it's very long, so you might find a summary version of the relevant parts valuable.

  • 3.1 grammatical meaning – A present perfect does not speak about the past event it mentions: it speaks about a present state which in some arises out of the past event. BUT:

  • 3.2 pragmatic meaning – A present perfect does not itself name the present state it is speaking about: that is left to be 'filled in' by the speaker, or (more often) inferred by the hearer from the discourse context.

Take (for example) your sentence "I've written something": this may have a variety of meanings, depending on the context:

A: I'd like to know more about the uses of the present perfect.
B: In fact I've written something. This is a resultative perfect: A infers that as a result of B's writing a document exists which will inform him about the present perfect—more or less adequately, depending on A's knowledge of B's expertise in the matter.

A: Do you know anything about the present perfect?
B: Yes, I've written something. This is an experiential or existential perfect: A infers from the existence of this writing in B's experience that B is sufficiently knowledgeable about the present perfect, and sufficiently interested in the subject, to put his thoughts into writing. This is probably what your source means by 'current status'.

There's also a continuative perfect, which names a prior state which the hearer infers still obtains in the present; but this can't ordinarily be expressed by a dynamic (that is, non-stative) verb designating a single event, like write something. I could however say

I've written on the uses of the present perfect since 2013, from which you might infer that my state of activity has persisted into the present—I'm still writing about uses of the present perfect. As indeed I am.

  • Thank you for your answer. I jaut want to ask the " recent past " considered under which type of the three types in your answer ? Or it's just a special case ? – Abc May 23 '17 at 9:36
  • @Mmm This is the "hot news" category McCawley advanced in 1971 but later withdrew as superfluous, because instances may be understood from context as either experiential or resultative. – StoneyB on hiatus May 23 '17 at 13:40

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