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I have a question about the exact meaning of "to study". I'd like to know if I am correct.

  1. If I have studied French in school, it means I have spent time trying to gain knowledge about French. It doesn't mean I can speak French now.

  2. If I can speak French now, if I know French, I have learnt French.

  3. If I have studied French at university, does it mean I have a degree in French? Or can that fact only be conveyed by "I have a degree in French"?

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    Anouk, really? French could be any subject you study. So, this is not a question about English. No native would say "have studied French in school". They would say; I have studied French but can't remember it now. The minute you put in "in school", a native speaker would use the simple past.
    – Lambie
    Mar 31 at 15:30
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    @Lambie There's a risk of overgeneralising. It is definitely more common to say "I studied French in school" than "I've studied French in school", but there are circumstances where the latter would also be idiomatic. This question as I understood it was not about when to use the present perfect versus when to use the simple past, though.
    – rjpond
    Mar 31 at 15:46
  • If you are still in school, you would just say: I have studied French. Saying: "I have studied French in school" when you are no longer in school is wrong. No native speaker would say that. Native speakers no longer in school say: I studied French in school.
    – Lambie
    Mar 31 at 17:06
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    If I studied English at university or school. Not have studied. However, I have studied French but am not doing so now. To use the PP, you need to omit at school or at university. The minute you add at university or at school, the implication is you are no longer in school or at university, and therefore, you would use simple past.
    – Lambie
    Mar 31 at 17:13
  • I get your point Lanbie, you are absolutely right, but if I change my post, none of these comments make sense and I think they are useful.
    – anouk
    Mar 31 at 18:50
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If I have studied French in school, it means I spent time trying to gain knowledge about French. It doesn't mean I can speak French now.

Correct. Many people study French for a year or two or even longer in school and yet don't feel confident speaking it in adulthood. In some cases it may have been a mandatory course - one in which they had no real interest.

If I can speak French now, if I know French, I have learnt French.

Correct (although depending on context, "I have learnt French" might be interpreted as meaning that I have only recently finished learning it - so "I know French" or "I speak French" might be better).

If I have studied French at university, does it mean I have a degree in French?

Not necessarily. It is certainly one possible interpretation, and perhaps the most obvious one. But you may have studied just a few modules in French as part of a degree that is mainly in a different subject.

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    This is not really a question about English at all. Also, why would one even say: I have studied French in school? One would not. One would say: I studied French in school. There is no justification for PP. It sounds unidiomatic even though it is grammatical.
    – Lambie
    Mar 31 at 15:30
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    The simple past is more common (and often mandatory, e.g. "A long time ago I studied French in school"), but the present perfect "I have studied French in school" might occur if you were still at school or had recently finished school. It could also occur if you had studied it again more recently, e.g. "I have studied French in school as well as at university and in my own time."
    – rjpond
    Mar 31 at 15:52
  • If you are still in school, you would just say: I have studied French. Using the past perfect sounds like a foreigner. Especially a French person.
    – Lambie
    Mar 31 at 16:15

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