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In this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgF_3FFpixQ at 0:25, the person in the video says "He's been in the army for eight years" referring to his cousin. Does that mean that his cousin was still in the military at the moment he said that, or does it mean that his cousin had been in the military before and he is not in military anymore? Or is it ambiguous?

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"He has been in the army for eight years" means he currently is, and has been.

"He was in the army for eight years" means he currently is not, but was for the period mentioned.

"He had been in the army for eight years" refers to a specific point in time in the past used as a reference point, and that he was still in the army at that point and had been for 8 years at the referenced point in time. This is useful for storytelling.

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  • Thanks. But as far as I know, you can use present perfect for referring to the things you are not currently doing too as well as you can use it for referring to the things you are still doing. Can't the sentence "He has been to military for eight years" be used for referring to a person who is not in the military anymore? – Fire and Ice Apr 9 '18 at 19:00
  • @DereMemo - We don't say "to military" in English, only "in the military". "He has been in the military for eight years" could mean that he just got out, but it definitely implies "the most recent eight years". – stangdon Apr 9 '18 at 19:39
  • @stangdon: "In English, only "in the military"--this doesn't mean "a military" can't be used, can it? For example, "He joined a really weak military" (one of the military forces that are weak).I once flunked using the wrong article)) – Victor B. Apr 9 '18 at 19:53
  • @stangdon I am sorry. I accidentally wrote it that way. So, can't we say "He has been in the military for eight years" if that person has left military like years ago? The first answerer here on this site quora.com/… claims that the sentence "I have lived in USA for 10 years" can be used for referring to any 10 year long period in your life. If it is true, can't we also say "He's been in the army for eight years" referring to any 8 years in the life of a person? – Fire and Ice Apr 9 '18 at 20:04
  • @DereMemo - It's not necessarily a strict rule, but if an event occurred entirely in the past, it is more natural to use the simple past: He was in the army for eight years. Remember that "has" is actually the present tense, so it's used to emphasize a connection to the present. – stangdon Apr 9 '18 at 21:03

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