This is a quote from "Annie Hall"

I'm not myself since I stopped smoking.

Shouldn't present perfect be used here?

I haven't been myself since I stopped smoking

Is it because since works as because here?

I'm not myself because I stopped smoking

or is it just incorrect and present perfect is the right tense here?

  • Your logic is very good, but this is one of those funny situations in English where grammar rules can trick you. The original quote is exactly how I would say it as a native speaker though.
    – Andre
    Feb 23, 2018 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


Swan's Practical English Usage has this to say on the matter:

However [as opposed to Present Perfect], present and past tenses are occasionally found, especially in sentences about changes.

‘Since last Saturday I can’t stop thinking about you.’

‘You’re looking much better since your operation’

To me personally, using Simple Present emphasizes the causal link between current state and a past event, while Present Perfect is more about establishing the time at which it started.

So your sentence is correct, although note that since here is not fully interchangeable with because - a sentence like:

I'm not myself because I stopped smoking.

does not imply that you not being yourself started right when you gave up smoking, while using since in this context does.

  • Thank you, I didn't know about it. Do you think I can use those tenses interchangeably? Like, "you're not yourself lately" or "you haven't been yourself lately"? And is it correct only in informal speech, or can I use it in formal as well?
    – Veritazium
    Feb 22, 2018 at 23:43
  • @XDeath I'd use the Simple Present form if I wanted to relate to something that's happening at the moment ("You're drinking on the job again? You're not yourself lately!") and Present Perfect if it's been this way for a while ("For a week you've been bringing beer to work. You haven't been yourself lately.") In my opinion both are standard, neither overly formal nor overly informal. Feb 23, 2018 at 0:07

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