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This question is about time.

If I just say to someone, for example, "You have been a fool", am I talking that the guy was a fool in the past and still being a fool in the present, or that the guy was a fool in the past(In some specific situation, etc.) and he isn't a fool in the present?

If the sentence is, for example, "You have been a fool since last year", the "meaning" is something like "You began to be a fool in some point of last year and still being a fool now", right? But how can I know the "meaning" of "have been" if the sentence does not have "for" or "since"? If the sentence does not have any reference about time, does it means that the action does not have any link with the present and finished in the past?

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  • "You've been a fool" is a dated idiomatic expression that means, "You've made a mistake" or "Someone just tricked you." Can you give other examples, or did you notice this sentence and not understand it? – gotube May 24 at 8:47
  • If someone says "I have been a teacher", and he is saying this sentence without "since..." or "for 10 years", for example, what's the meaning? Should I see that how a continuous action(he is still being a teacher today)? Or he WAS a teacher in the past and he ISN'T a teacher anymore(a finished action)? – Gabriel B May 24 at 22:22
  • "I have been a teacher." by itself means I'm not a teacher now, but was in the past. The significance of the present perfect (as opposed to simple past) is either that he may become a teacher again (present perfect function: an event in the past that may happen again), or to indicate he now has the experience of being a teacher (present perfect function: an event in the past with focus on a present result) – gotube May 30 at 21:27
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I would expect "You have been a fool" to refer to some recent incident in which the person behaved foolishly - a specific situation. Otherwise the speaker would say "You are a fool." Similarly, I would expect "He has been very ill" to be followed by "...but he is on the mend now." otherwise it would be "He is very ill."

However, if someone says "I have been wondering whether (...)", presumably they are still wondering, so it isn't a hard-and-fast rule that the statement no longer applies.

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  • I guess that if someone says just "I have been a teacher", it should be followed by "since..." or "for 10 years", for example. By the way, I guess that even if the person is saying this sentence without "since" or "for", the meaning is that there is a continuous action. Am I wrong? – Gabriel B May 24 at 22:08
  • I would understand "I have been a teacher" (without "since") to mean "I spent some time earlier in my life working as a teacher." – Kate Bunting May 25 at 7:09
  • Ok, thank you!! – Gabriel B May 25 at 18:10

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