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I would like to know if these examples are correct:

I go on holiday every year and when I do someone takes care of my cat, so someone takes care of my cat whenever I go on holiday. (present simple because of habit)

If I want to express that this has been happening for a number of years, is it correct to say the following?

Someone has been taking care of my cat when I have been on holiday.

Or should I say

Someone has been taking care of my cat when I go on holiday?

Is it okay to use two different tenses in one sentence, or do I need to use the present perfect tense twice in this case?

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The statement:

Someone takes care of my cat when I go on holiday

covers any number of years and holidays. So it's not necessary to change the tense. But if you no longer go on holiday and/or if you no longer have a cat, you might say:

Someone took care of my cat when I went on holiday. (Example 1)

or

Someone used to take care of my cat when I went on holiday. (Example 2)

It's not idiomatic to say:

Someone has been taking care of my cat when I have been on holiday.

Although it's fine to assure a neighbour that:

Someone has been taking care of my cat.

When you specify a time or period, you generally use the simple past tense as in Example 1

You can use different tenses in the same sentence but you can't use either of the constructions that you inquire about because they both jar with the when I go on holiday.

  • Thank you, but that is not what I mean. I mean that for years someone has been looking after my cat while I have been on holiday. This has been going on for years. I still have a cat and I still go on holiday and I have done so for years. So it is not about the past, it is about the present as well. Why is " I have been on holiday" not idiomatic? it is present perfect. I don`t understand. – anouk Jan 6 '18 at 19:45
  • I would like to know how to say that someone has been looking after my cat while I am on holiday. For a number of years. That is all. – anouk Jan 6 '18 at 20:52
  • Someone has took care of my cat every time I went on holiday. What does that mean "has took " took or has taken I'm guessing it is took in this example – user5577 Jan 6 '18 at 21:36
  • Ronald, could you please explain your answer, because I would like to know how to put my sentence ( when I go on holiday someone takes care of my cat ) into present perfect tense. – anouk Jan 7 '18 at 10:18
  • @anouk Although the BBC often does so, it's wrong to follow the present perfect tense with when. So all you need to say is: Someone takes care of my cat when I go on holiday. Or, if someone asks you about your cat, say: Someone has taken care of my cat. But you can't say: Somone has taken care of my cat when..... – Ronald Sole Jan 7 '18 at 14:28
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@anouk. What Ronald Sole said is correct, it is not idiomatic. You're confusing idioms and present prefects. There is no correlation between the two, though an idiom can contain a present perfect. But it is also right to say not all idioms contain present perfects.

The present perfect 'have been' simply indicates that it is occurring in the present and may or may not continue in the future.

An idiom is defined as 'group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words' e.g. kick the bucket, throw a party, over the moon.

They generally tend to have another meaning and should not be taken literally. Almost like metaphors?

The phrase 'I have been on holiday' has an easily, deducible meaning. Unless, it was used sarcastically and is dependent on context. See speech acts: illocutionary force. However, even if it did, that would still not make it an idiom.

Edit: Okay, there are numerous way you can say this:

"Someone always takes care of my cat whenever I go on holiday."

This is to show that they have took care of your cat in the past and will continue to do so in the future. The adverb 'always' alludes to a number [several] of years.

If you really want to be fussy you can say:

"For the past few years, someone has been taking care of my cat while I've been away"

OR

"Someone has took care of my cat every time I went on holiday."

With every time, referring to all those years.

OR

If it has not happened and is about to happen:

"Someone will take care of my cat when I go on holiday for a few years"

These are just suggestions and the other statements the other responder have said are also correct. I don't know how it's hard for someone to say such an easy statement when they have already said it.


Also in your original post:

Someone has been taking care of my cat when I have been on holiday

is correct to use.

Someone has been taking care of my cat when I go on holiday

This one doesn't make sense, it uses a present-perfect and a future tense. Like Ronald said they both jar with the when I go on holiday.

It's more correct to say:

Someone will take care of my cat when I go on holiday

OR

Someone has been taking care of my cat when I went on holiday

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    Someone has took care of... is ungrammatical in Standard English. Where did you hear it? – userr2684291 Jun 5 '18 at 12:27
  • Please reread that section in CaGEL (or its student version). When you label something as ungrammatical, you're not concerned with whether it's grammatical in dialects other than Standard English. The non-standard form is grammatical in some non-standard dialects, but may not (as has took isn't) be in Standard English. The adjective grammatical only means an utterance conforms to some grammar. When it's left unqualified, we understand it as grammatical in Standard English. – userr2684291 Jun 5 '18 at 12:49

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