0

I know similar questions were asked by many others before but I am still not sure.

They are already getting what they wanted

They are already getting what they have wanted

If I understood right, the first sentence

They are already getting what they wanted

means they are getting what they wanted in the past (but it is not sure they want it now)

and the second sentence

They are already getting what they have wanted

means they are getting what they wanted and what they still want. (and contexts should provide dates or time from when they wanted, whereas past tense doesn't require them?)

Am I understanding it correctly?

Thank you

1

They are already getting what they wanted.

It's ambiguous if they still want the thing or not—although I'd say it's more likely than not. All we know from this sentence itself is that they did want it at some point in the past.

In an idiomatic sense, without the use of already, this can also be used in the context of be careful what you wish for: they're getting (exactly) what they wanted / wished for.


They are already getting what they have wanted.

This is actually ungrammatical. There are two variations that you could use instead:

They are already getting what they had wanted.
They are already getting what they have been wanting.

The normal interpretation of had is that the desire is no longer present. While it's still possible for it to mean the desire persists, it would not be normal.

Meanwhile, the common interpretation of have been wanting is that the desire continues into the present. However, it could still be interpreted the other way without much difficulty if further clarification is lacking.

  • Oh wow thank you for your reply. This definitely helps! – MAT Oct 12 '18 at 5:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.