2

Before I came across this page I used to think that we can't use perfect tense after since.This page says we can use past simple or present perfect in the clause after since but what difference does it make in the meaning ? E.g. consider this example given on the same page:

They haven’t received any junk mail since they moved house.

They haven’t received any junk mail since they’ve moved house.

What is the difference in the meaning of the two sentences ?

Can we use both - simple past and present perfect in this sentence too ?

I have not written any letter to her since my brother (died/has died).

  • You can use both, and there is no difference in meaning. – J.R. Jul 31 '17 at 15:42
  • Do us a favor? Say you instead of we or one in your general comments. There is no important difference in meaning. – Lambie Jul 31 '17 at 16:23
  • What @J.R. said. But as usual, in practice native speakers tend to favour simpler verb forms where more complex ones are semantically equivalent. So in Google Books I find an estimated 55 written instances of (I've been) happy since I moved, but there are none at all for ...since I have moved (and there's just one for contracted ...since I've moved). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jul 31 '17 at 17:02
  • Is "moved house" a BrE thing? It's not very American. – Andrew Jul 31 '17 at 17:58
  • @Lambie The second person pronoun excludes the speaker. What have you got against the "royal we?" If the OP must use a different pronoun, I would be a better choice than you. – P. E. Dant Jul 31 '17 at 18:10
1

There is a Latin sentence we use to describe a certain fallacy: Post hoc ergo propter hoc.  The English translation is simple: After this, therefore because of this.  The post hoc fallacy retains its Latin phrasing even in English, which might suggest that we as a culture have been referencing this fallacy continuously since the days when all educated men understood Latin.

We're not required to use Latin.  It is just as sensible to describe the fallacy in this way: Timing does not entail causality.  True, but it implies it*, or at the very least suggests it.

The word "since" has been influenced by that implication.  Sometimes it means something like "after".  Sometimes it means something like "because".  Sometimes it is difficult to know which meaning applies.

I have not written to her since my brother died.

To my eye, this "since" is about timing.  The past indefinite "died" establishes a historical event.  You have not written to her after that point in history.

I have not written to her since my brother has died.

To my eye, this "since" is about causality.  The present perfect "has died" establishes an existing state of being.  You have not written to her, and his being dead is the reason.

My eye notices this distinction, but I do not expect every native reader's eye to see the same.  The difference in grammar between these two sentences does not entail a division in interpretation.  Given an appropriate context, either sentence could express causality, just as either sentence could express timing.  Both sentences imply both interpretations.  You as a reader must choose which implication to dismiss, if you choose to dismiss either implication at all.
_______________ 

* The post hoc fallacy deserves its fancy name and its centuries-long discussion because it is ridiculously easy to mistake implication for entailment.

Your Answer

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

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.