9

When someone asked me "Do you like to go on another/foreign country trip?" or "Have you experienced to go another country?"

Can I answer using one of these:

  • "Yes, I do. I have been to Rome in Italy two years ago for 2 months."

  • "Yes, I do. I have been to Rome in Italy for 2 months two years ago." (I came back my home country.)

I heard the fact from someone "that have been is not used with specific time or period." If it is incorrect, what should I answer and reply it?

  • Aside: "Have you experienced to go another country?" is poor. "Have you [ever] been to another country?" would be much better. The first question would be better as "Do you like foriegn travel?" or "Do you like to go abroad?" or "Do you like to go on trips to foriegn/other countries" – Martin Bonner supports Monica Mar 17 '18 at 18:39
18

It would be fine to say I have been to Italy, but once you add the time and duration, the event becomes much more specific. I think the simple past is more appropriate:

I was in [or, went to] Italy two years ago for two months.

I see you edited Italy to Rome in Italy. If you wanted to give both the city and country, you would just name them side by side, or write a comma between them: I went to Rome, Italy two years ago. But most interlocutors would infer from Rome the one in Italy, so you could probably just say the city.

  • 2
    Anything with a time frame and ago calls for simple past: two days ago, a minute ago, a lifetime ago. That is basically a rule, and one of the few that works just about every time. – Lambie Mar 16 '18 at 17:39
  • @Lambie: I'm glad my instinct matches the rule. I found a link and I'll edit it in. – Matthew Leingang Mar 16 '18 at 17:44
  • I am upvoting you because it's the obvious answer. – Lambie Mar 16 '18 at 17:55
  • 3
    As a side note: as a matter of style, some might prefer putting duration first, "I was in Italy for two months, two years ago." – Andrew Mar 16 '18 at 18:38
  • 3
    I think a certain kind of construction can appear to be an exception (even though it is really more like two different constructions together): To say that you have been somewhere, and then to immediately segue into an explanation of when that happened. Asker: "Have you ever been to Belgium?" Answer: "Yeah, I've been to Belgium. <anticipates subsequent question: 'when?'> I was there for two weeks, last year." These two sentences could be combined conversationally as "Yeah, I've been to Belgium: two weeks, last year". – Darren Ringer Mar 16 '18 at 20:26
3

The rule concerning the use of time-related information stating how long ago something happened with verb tenses like the present perfect and the simple past is a rather easy one:

When using the present perfect tense, you generally cannot and should not include time-related information expressing how long ago something happened as part of your sentence because the present perfect is concerned with things that are linked to the present moment. Something that's being talked about in terms of the present cannot, at the same time, be referenced in terms of the past. In other words, the present perfect and time-related information like two years ago, five years ago etc. in the same sentence is a definite no-no in English.

If, on the other hand, you do want to say that something happened some time ago, you should use the simple past for that. That's really all there is to it.

Examples:

— Have you ever been to Italy?
— Yes, I have.

— Were you in Italy two years ago?
— Yes, I was.

I would also rework the example in your question like this:

— Have you ever been abroad?
— Yes, I have. I've been to Rome once. It was two years ago. I stayed there for two months.

  • Hmm. Your rework reads like really, really bad expository dialogue … – Will Crawford Mar 24 '18 at 0:28
  • Well, that's how they write it in grammar books for ESL students. – Michael Rybkin Mar 24 '18 at 0:36
  • Well, it sucks :o) I've been thinking about studying to each ESL / TEFL, this possibly motivates me more … either for or against. One of those. – Will Crawford Mar 24 '18 at 0:45
2

I'll quote from the famous TV show Yes, Prime Minister

It's been like that for 250 years. That's the clinching argument? For 250 years, yes.

It can't have been the clinching argument for 250 years.

50 years ago, it had only been the clinching argument for 200 years

and 100 years ago...

But joking aside, you should refer to other answers as for why you don't want to use "have been" and "for x months" together.

  • Making a valid point and referencing the funniest program ever written for television. Not bad. – Will Crawford Mar 24 '18 at 0:46
1

If you went to Italy at a specific time in the past, you would use the simple past tense: I went to Italy two years ago.

If you went to Italy more than once in the past, you could use the present perfect tense which suggests not just a single trip, but continuing action between some past time and the present time, for example

I have been to Italy several times or I have traveled to Italy several times.

The past perfect tense (I had traveled) is used when you are using the simple past to describe some action and then you want to refer to something that you did before that time. For example:

Before I traveled to Italy, I had prepared a detailed itinerary.

If traveling to Italy to is something you now do regularly, you would use the present tense to say:

I go to Italy every winter.

There is an error in one of the replies above. To the question, were you in Italy two years ago, the answer would be, Yes, I was. (Not: yes, I were).bow was is the past tense of the verb to be. It is conjugated thus:

Singular: I was, you were, he, she, or it was.

Plural: we were, you were, they were.

0

"Two years ago, I spent two months in Rome, Italy."

This would be a natural sort of way to answer such questions.

-5

You were misinformed. It's simply not true that have been is not used with a specific time or period (where effectively have been implies all perfect verb forms). Consider, for example,...

Mitch had been there last year over Christmas.

(I've just highlighted one perfectly good example, but the Google Books search claims over 1600 more instances of the highlighted text).

It's far less common with present perfect forms, but in the case of this example, I definitely prefer the perfect have seen over simple past saw...

Have you seen any of these turns which involve climbing up ladders and jumping down heights?
— No; I have seen it years ago, but not lately.

In the above cite, the perfect implies greater relevance to "now, the present moment, time of speaking", which arguably implies greater "veracity" (the respondent has a clear recollection of having seen it; his "past" and his "present" are closely linked).

In Google Books, the estimated 170 hits for (people who) have voted Republican in the past is way too high, but that doesn't mean the construction is "incorrect" (i.e - that have shouldn't be there).


In the case of OP's specific context, it's probably true that most people would say I went [to somewhere] two years ago, but that doesn't mean I have been there two years ago is "incorrect". To me at least, it's perfectly idiomatic way of strengthening the implications for the speaker's current status (which is that he really likes going abroad; witness the fact that only a couple of years ago he actually lived abroad for two months).

In short, you won't often want to use present perfect in the context of a specified period in the past, but it can occasionally be idiomatic.

  • I think the second part of your answer is patently wrong due to the tense's being primarily a present one. If you read StoneyB's post about the perfect (section 3.1.3, in particular), you'll find that you can't say I have done it 3 years ago for the same reason you can't say I do it 3 years ago. – userr2684291 Mar 16 '18 at 19:30
  • "I have been in Rome." Sounds fine, because it it still true. "I have been in Rome two years ago," sounds incorrect. – GC_ Mar 16 '18 at 19:48
  • This is page 3 on Google Books, note that there are no previews available. Click on page 4 and...suddenly there are no other results google.com/…. It's Google's fault, not yours but you should know by now that their estimates are nuts. – Mari-Lou A Mar 16 '18 at 21:55
  • You also got 5 citations for …who inform'd, that the same snow had been there last year, and landed some of the Moravian brethren… dated 1741. Only 7 results for "has been there last year"of which only the first citation is visible. – Mari-Lou A Mar 16 '18 at 21:59

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