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She's been banned from tennis for five years.

I think this sentence means she has received a decision which bans her from the tennis game. This ban lasts five years.

Suppose it has been three years since the ban was given.

Can I say

She has been banned from tennis for three years.

Probably no.

What should I say? How about this one?

She has been kept from tennis for three years.

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    She's in her third year of a five-year tennis ban.
    – PcMan
    Jan 9 at 17:50
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    You can't be banned from tennis, you can be banned from participating with certain organizations.
    – Issel
    Jan 9 at 21:06
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    @Issel That doesn't have anything to do with the ambiguity over whether the verb "to ban" is being used to describe the act of imposing a ban or the state of being under a ban.
    – chepner
    Jan 9 at 21:08
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    @Issel: In practice, at the professional level, there is often no meaningful distinction. If you can't play in any professional tournaments or games, then you have effectively been banned from the (professional) game. Sure, nobody is going to stop you from playing your own game of tennis in private, but nobody is going to pay you to play that game, either. It would effectively be an amateur game.
    – Kevin
    Jan 9 at 21:45
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    @PcMan - no. If she has served three years of her ban already, then she is in her fourth year of a five-year ban. Jan 11 at 5:23

5 Answers 5

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The OP's solution “She has been banned from tennis for three years.” is grammatical but means the length of the ban lasts three years, it does not suggest that there are another two more years to go.

It's been three years since she was given a five-year ban in 2018

The five-year ban was (hypothetically) issued in 2018, so the decision is a finished action. The ban; however, is still ongoing which we can express by using the present perfect.

Three years have passed since she was banned from tennis for five years.

The first clause uses the present perfect while the subordinate clause is in the simple past passive.

She hasn't played tennis since being banned for five years in 2018.

The expression "being banned" is in the present continuous passive, I feel it gives a better sense of the ongoing nature of the current ban than using the past simple passive "was banned", not everyone will agree.

Some examples taken from the net

  • Face Recognition Is Being Banned—but It’s Still Everywhere (Wired.com)
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Back On Twitter Despite Being Banned And Urging GOP Boycott (News Yahoo!.com)

(capital letters are used because they are titles of magazine articles)

But there’s another, more conceptual debate that transcends partisan politics and carries implications beyond Trump’s freedom to tweet. It’s the question of whether the largest social media companies have become so critical to public debate that being banned or blacklisted by them — whether you’re an elected official, a dissident, or even just a private citizen who runs afoul of their content policies — amounts to a form of modern-day censorship. (Washington Post)

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    "She has been banned from tennis for three years" ... does not suggest that there are another two more years to go. It doesn't suggest that there aren't two more years to go, either. In context, if the fact that the ban was five years had already been mentioned, then the OP's solution is perfectly fine. This answer should be edited to reflect this, because it may create the false impression that "She has been banned from tennis for three years" is not an accurate and grammatical description of the situation at hand.
    – Max
    Jan 10 at 10:05
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    @Max in context everything becomes clearer. Yes, if someone already knew about the ban, and if they knew that the player was currently in their third year, and if they knew that the ban lasts for five years then in CONTEXT we would understand the phrase, or would we? Despite the context, the phrase "She's been banned for 3 years” would still be misleading and ambiguous, I would probably clarify by saying "This is her third year since being banned" or "The ban won't be lifted until 2023" Those are better alternatives when the five-year ban has been previously mentioned.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 10 at 11:43
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    Don't forget, WS2 provides the alternative "She's been banned from tennis for 5 years" and adds ‘However if three years later someone not knowing of the circumstances asks why she has not appeared in recent tournaments you might say "Well she's been banned from tennis for (the last) three years" I think all three answers are helpful to the OP, each one in their own way
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 10 at 11:55
  • @Max That was my thought also, but I would suggest that it could be improved as 'She has been banned from tennis for the last three years'
    – j4nd3r53n
    Jan 10 at 11:58
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    "She is banned from tennis for the next two years", or "Three years ago she was banned from playing tennis for the next five years", or "She has been banned from tennis for the last three years", depending on what you actually want to tell the reader. Jan 11 at 9:18
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Both sentences are grammatically correct. Though neither provides a clear statement of the entire position.

It really depends on the context in which you are speaking. If someone for example asks for the result of the disciplinary council considering her case it would seem reasonable to say "She's been banned from tennis for 5 years".

However if three years later someone not knowing of the circumstances asks why she has not appeared in recent tournaments you might say "Well she's been banned from tennis for (the last) three years". Personally I would include "the last" in order to indicate that I was speaking about a time period that had transpired, rather than giving the details of her sentence.

In other circumstances a fuller explanation may be needed,

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Even three years after the ban was given, the original sentence is still correct to say. If you want to indicate that three years have passed, then you'd need to do so explicitly. There are many options, such as:

Three years ago, she was banned from tennis for five years.
She has received a ban from tennis for five years, of which she has served three.
She has been banned from tennis for the past three years and will remain suspended for two more.

If you said "she has been banned from tennis for three years", then most readers would infer that the ban was only for three years; thus, that sentence is potentially misleading. You could fix it by adding two words:

She has been banned from tennis for the past three years.

Those words make clear that we are only talking about a certain time frame, and the sentence does not necessarily imply anything about when the ban might end.

If you replaced "banned" with "kept from", then there would be no more issue, because there would be no more mention of any ban.

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  • That third one leaves me wondering what's different between the ban and the subsequent suspension. I'd say "... and will remain so for two more." Jan 11 at 13:55
  • @TobySpeight I only used "suspended" to avoid repeating "banned". Your way is certainly fine, too. Jan 11 at 19:40
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The clearest way to convey the situation is to use simple past tense, and to state the time period and start date:

In 2020, she was banned from tennis for five years.

Or

Three years ago, she was banned from tennis competition for five years."

Present perfect tense (has been doing....) would normally use the -ing verb form. But the sentence in the question uses "has been" with "banned" (past tense), which is one reason it's ambiguous -- it speaks of an ongoing action with a regular past tense verb.

That construction would typically be used when relaying news of the ban immediately after it happened: "The committee has voted, and now she has been banned from tennis competition for five years."

Another possibility:

"She has been enduring a five-year ban from tennis for the past three years" -- an example of using present perfect tense that's less ambiguous because of additional information, but it's a convoluted sentence.

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I think clarity requires an absurd example. Compare "She has been banned from tennis for three years" with "She has been dead for three years."

That suggests this can only be about context, idiom and tone, including in speech, anyway, strong verbal emphasis.

More obviously without "from tennis", don't stressing either "She has been banned…" or "… for three years" sound clearer?

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