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I'm having a bit of a trouble here while trying to compose a "It has been" in the past.

I'm aware that if I want to say for example that I started to study English 2 years ago and I keep studying it I could say this: It has been 2 years since I started studying English. But what I want is a bit different.

It's hard to explain, so I'll give a "timeline". Yesterday I said: It's been 2 days since I should have started the book Today I've started the book, but I want to say to my friend that besides the fact that I started the book today, took me 2 days to start it. How could I phrase it? I would try something around this: It's been 2 days since I should have had started the book but I'm pretty sure that this is wrong. Maybe even my Yesterday phrase is incorrect.

Can someone help me? Thanks.

  • Welcome to ELL! This is a very clear and well expressed question. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 19 '14 at 3:46
  • @StoneyB Thank you. I feel happy to know that. I'll ask more questions in the future now that I have the self-confidence I needed to write here =-) – Merurino Mar 19 '14 at 13:12
  • I will look forward to them! Answering is so much easier when we understand exactly what the problem is. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 19 '14 at 13:26
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You seem to have a pretty good grasp of how to use It has been [TIMESPAN] since. What's tripping you up is how to express the fact that you were expected to start something in the past.

I should have started the book is a very good guess—that is exactly how you would express this by itself. But that is used for looking back at the event and measuring its distance from the present:

I should have started the book then.
I should have started the book two days ago.

Notice that then and two days ago are "deictic"—they "point at" the event from the present. With since what you have to do is the opposite: you have already measured the distance, so you put the event in the past and move 'forward' to the present. I think the most natural way of expressing this thought would be

It's been two days since I was supposed to start the book.

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  • What rolls off my tongue is: It's been two days since I was supposed to have started the book. – Jim Mar 19 '14 at 5:18
  • @Jim I would use the perfect there only with a past reference time. "It was Monday, two days since I was supposed to have started the book". – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 19 '14 at 12:38
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I'm not sure which of two things you're trying to express. Let's start with a timeline:

Day 1: supposed to start book. procrastinate. 
Day 2: procrastinate. 
Day 3: start book. 

Now, when are you talking, and what are you trying to express?

If today is day 3, you can say "It's been two days since I should have started the book, and I just started."

If it's day 4, you can say "By the time I started reading, it had been two days since I should have." or "... it had been two extra days." (This is the situation implied to me by your title, "Past tense of it has been.")

Or you can just say "I started the book two days late."

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