we have been until the last month

Last month? How do you explain the use of last month with the present perfect tense? I don't see that until last month ( week and year) is grammatically equivalent to until recently or until now in this context?

QUESTION The secretary-general give you his views on the Palestinian proposal for a U.N. force in the West Bank and Gaza? and also, did he give you any indication that you had made any progress in his efforts to try and secure the release of the Israeli soldiers?

BEN-AMI: Well, with regard to the first point, I made it clear to him, just as I made it clear to other interlocutors over the last week, that there is no need at all for any kind of international force. We are -- we have been until the last month, in the middle of a peace process, in fact, the peace process has been in existence in the Middle East for the last seven years. The only thing that we need to do now is simply to cease violence, to observe the Sharm el-Sheikh memorandum, and get back to the business of peace making. There is no need for any kind of international force or international for the parties.

Date: 2000. Title: Acting Israeli Foreign Minister Holds News Briefing at the United Nations.
Source: CNN Transcript - Special Event

  • Similar to ell.stackexchange.com/questions/16012/… Jan 18, 2014 at 13:26
  • 1
    That post is mine but sorry to tell you that I couldn't see the similarity. If you could show it clearly in a separate answer with a simple and clear language, then please do so.
    – learner
    Jan 18, 2014 at 13:30
  • 2
    Sorry; I wasn't suggesting they were duplicates; merely that people who find this question interesting might be interested in the other question too. Jan 18, 2014 at 20:28
  • learner - "Similar to" is much different than "Duplicate of". I'm glad @Steve pointed users to a related question for further analysis.
    – J.R.
    May 23, 2014 at 15:35

3 Answers 3


This looks like an example of someone with ESL having difficulty with the use of the tense. Note the "until the last month" which is another typical error; "until last month" is correct. They both have the feeling of "foreign accent" to them.

"Have been in the middle of" means that the state of being began at some unspecified point and continues at present. "Were in the middle of" means that the state ended at some specific point in the past. "Had been in the middle of" means that the state was ongoing over a period of time in the past, but usually also involves some sort of specific or implied explanation of what caused the state to end. For example "We had been in the middle of a peace process when the bombings last month ended it."

In this case, I think the meaning is best expressed as "We are...we were in the middle of a peace process until last month."


It just sounds wrong, it should be "we had been until last month". It's probably just mis-transcribed, as even the first sentence doesn't make sense.


Present perfect is always used when the time which the action happened in is not specific, that's why present perfect is used in your example when you say in the last month the dfinite article (the) makes the sentence more general to the listner or reader.In the last example we don't know in which certain point the action happened. Look at this sentence it might help you: Present perfect:change over time: You have grown since the last time I saw you(I don't know the exact time I saw him in) Note:simple past is used when you use last+time(without the). Until is used here to show you that this action still not done yet to the last month it is continued (up till the last month).And according to the text,it really works here.

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