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It is Teachers' Day today, and so far, Sarah (receive) _____ three presents. Her class (give) _____ her a plant and two of her students (give) _____ her individual gifts.

I am sure that the first blank should be in the Present Perfect Tense. However, I am not sure about the last two blanks.

Shall we use the Present Perfect Tense for them too or the Simple Past Tense?

Or are both tenses possible?

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    Because of so far, you actually need to use Present Perfect has received for the first gap. It would be syntaxtcically valid to use has given and have given for the other two, but native Anglophones (unlike far too many learners! :) don't generally like repeating Perfect forms any more than they have to, so those would normally be just Simple Past gave. Oct 5, 2023 at 19:16
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    @FumbleFingers makes good points, but Teachers' Day isn't over yet, so a school test might expect the present perfect. Oct 5, 2023 at 19:19
  • Isn't Past Simple also possible for the first gap? It can be used for repeated actions: "I rang the bell six times"
    – Kyamond
    Oct 5, 2023 at 19:20
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    @Kjaamond No, simple past is only used for finished things. "So far" necessarily makes "received" not finished, so present perfect is the only choice. "I rang the bell six times today" means you are for sure not ringing any more bells, like your work day as a door-to-door salesperson is over.
    – gotube
    Oct 5, 2023 at 20:11

1 Answer 1

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FumbleFingers's comment/answer:

Because of so far, you actually need to use Present Perfect has received for the first gap.

It would be syntactically valid to use has given and have given for the other two, but native Anglophones (unlike far too many learners! :) don't generally like repeating Perfect forms any more than they have to, so those would normally1 be just Simple Past gave.


1 It's possible that a competent writer/speaker might specifically choose to repeat the Perfect form in the second and third positions. The effect of this is to add "immediacy" to the current state of affairs - it's an ongoing situation where Sarah may well receive more gifts and other forms of recognition. But that's a "literary" device, best avoided in most contexts.

Assuming the test setters aren't totally incompetent, I think they must surely be expecting Present Perfect for the first blank, and Simple Past for the other two. Why would they include scope for candidates to choose the same tense repeatedly? Surely all they'd be testing is whether the candidate successfully recognizes a context where Present Perfect can be used at all (so just one blank would be enough if the answer was the same in all cases).

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