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From BBC News:

The US, Japan and South Korea say they have since defied the ruling.

In this sentence, there is a strange "since" that I cannot understand. In my view, "since" means from a particular time until the present, but what does the word "since" here mean? In other words, I even cannot understand the structure of the sentence. Can anyone tell me? Thanks a lot!

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  • In this particular usage, think of it as ever since [then/that point in time]. I wouldn't advise that you should use ever since then, but that's all that it means. As for the rest, say is just a bare infinitive. Think of it as being similar to the present perfect: The US, Japan and South Korea have said they have since [that time] defied the ruling. Dec 1, 2013 at 17:53

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Your understanding of since is correct ‘from a particular time until the present’. What that ‘particular time’ is, however, does not appear in the sentence itself but in the preceding sentence:

China said last week that all aircraft crossing through the zone must file flight plans and identify themselves or face "defensive emergency measures".

The US, Japan and South Korea say they have since defied the ruling and flown military aircraft in the area.

That is, the US, Japan and South Korea say that since China issued that [ruling] they have defied it.

This may be understood in either a continuative or an existential sense (see this):

CONTINUATIVE: The three nations have been defying the ruling continuously throughout the timespan from China's statement to the present.

EXISTENTIAL: The three nations have defied the ruling at least once during the timespan from China's statement to the present.

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  • If I knew you are around here, I might probably not post my answer. :) It took me quite too long checking out that web page. Dec 1, 2013 at 14:56
  • Should I delete my answer? I'm not sure if OP will understand "the structure of the sentence" with just the aid of "since China issued that [ruling]". It's likely. But I'm not very sure. Dec 1, 2013 at 15:02
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    @DamkerngT. Good gracious, no! Some readers will understand your answer better, some will understand mine better - the more the merrier! Dec 1, 2013 at 15:42
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Your understanding of since is correct.

Perhaps you might get confused with the sentence structure, and maybe also "which particular time" this "since" begins.

Let's look at the sentence. I will use parentheses to make it easier to understand,

(The US, Japan and South Korea) say (they have since defied the ruling).

I believe that you already know that the word "they" refers to "The US, Japan and South Korea".


Now let's analyze this clause:

(they) (have since defied) (the ruling).

The verb is "have defied". We also have the adverb "since" to indicate "since when they have defied the ruling". This implies that the reader should have already know this "when", usually from the previous sentences.

I found your news in BBC's website. Here are some sentences before the sentence you asked:

China says it scrambled fighter jets to monitor US and Japanese planes as they flew in its newly declared air defence zone in the East China Sea on Friday.

China said last week that all aircraft crossing through the zone must file flight plans and identify themselves or face "defensive emergency measures".

If I understand the news correctly, "the particular time" that our "since" starts from would refer to "last week", or more specifically the last "Friday".

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The meaning of "since" in this context is "since then."

So we therefore look at what "then" refers. There was a ruling issued by the Chinese about its airspace on such-and-such a date and time. "Then" refers to this particular time.

So "since" has an implied antecendent, which is, "the time that the Chinese issued the airspace ruling."

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