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Is the following use of "since" natural?

Peter met Mary twenty years ago. Since then they have gotten married. Five years ago, however, they divorced.

Does "since then they have gotten married" imply they are still married at the time of speech, and thus present a contradiction with "five years ago, however, they divorced"?

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  • I don't think it does. But maybe it would be more natural to phrase it this way if the exact timeline is not that important: Since then they have gotten married and divorced.
    – InitK
    Aug 11, 2017 at 12:25

3 Answers 3

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since is used about something that happened regularly or continuously over a period of time, either until now or until some event in the past.

Note that getting married refers to a one-time event - the wedding day-, whereas being married refers to a state which normally occurs continuously for a long period of time. When you use since with a one-time event, it means that it occurred during the interval between the specified time and now. Consider these two sentences:

They have been married since 2005 - they married in 2005 and still are married

They got married since 2005 - they married sometime between 2005 and now, and it is not specified whether they are still married.

It certainly is unconventional to use since to describe a one-time event, but it is not that unusual and it doesn't cause confusion. The fact that they later got divorced does not affect the fact that the marriage event took place.

The use of present perfect have gotten married is uncommon, but does occur, as this NGram shows.

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  • Does that mean you find my original example acceptable English?
    – Apollyon
    Aug 12, 2017 at 3:02
  • The present perfect does not sound natural to me: they got married would be better. I don't really have a problem with using since in this way.
    – JavaLatte
    Aug 12, 2017 at 11:41
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Since then they have gotten married

Paraphrased: In the time intervening between then and now, they have gotten married.

To draw an inference that they are still married is not unreasonable but it is not warranted. The time phrase and tense do not entail that conclusion.

Since then they have been to Paris.

Just as you would not assume that they are still in Paris, you cannot assume that they are still married, even though marriage typically lasts longer than a trip to Paris.

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  • Does that mean you find my original example acceptable English?
    – Apollyon
    Aug 12, 2017 at 2:45
  • That's not what I meant.You need to focus on your language comprehension. I was responding to your second question, whether it presented a contradiction. But since then is used correctly in your example and that sentence is natural.
    – TimR
    Aug 12, 2017 at 11:08
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There are so many ways to say this, depending on what you may wish to emphasize.

I favor: Peter met Mary twenty years ago. Since then they have married and, five years ago, divorced.

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