This native english speaker is telling about how she has quit 40-year habit of smoking. She says:

"Linda, my sister, used to smoke. She has given up years ago, years ago." ITV-Coleen quit 40-year smoking habit (see: 5:13-5:17)

According to what were taught in grammer lessons, if there is an adverb of time in a past sentence, we should use simple past rather than present perfect. So, there is an ddverb of time "...years ago" in her sentence, and it obviously requires a simple past, but why is she using present perfect?

  • 5
    Perhaps she couldn't even tell you herself. People don't always use consistent grammar in conversation. Mar 13 at 13:10
  • 1
    Kate is spot on. People sometimes speak in ways that do not reflect a grammar book. Happens all the time.
    – Lambie
    Mar 13 at 14:30

3 Answers 3


The use of the present perfect tense ("She's given up") in a sentence with a specific time in the past ("years ago") is generally considered unusual in standard English grammar. Typically, the present perfect is used to refer to actions that have relevance to the present moment or actions whose exact timing is not specified, whereas the simple past tense is used for actions that occurred at a specific time in the past.

However, in conversational English, especially in certain dialects or informal speech, rules can be more flexible. A native speaker might use the present perfect with "years ago" for emphasis or to convey a sense of continuity from the past action to the present. It might also reflect a stylistic choice, highlighting the lasting impact or relevance of the action ("given up") to the present situation. The usage can subtly imply that the decision to give up, made years ago, still affects the present.


It makes sense that it's in the present perfect tense. I.E., Linda has given up that habit years ago, and she still has kept to that resolution, in the present: "She's," meaning, "She has."

BTW, there is an error in transcription of that sentence -- an appositive should be separated by commas:

Linda, my sister, used to smoke. She's given up years ago, years ago.

[Dávid Laczkó, I stand corrected.]


... she's given up years ago, years ago...

I think it can be explained by the semantic intent of "years ago, years ago". The speaker isn't placing the act of giving up smoking on a historical timeline, saying when it happened, as much as she is indicating for how long her sister has remained a non-smoker since giving it up. In the sentence immediately preceding, the focus is on for how long one can remain smoke-free without backsliding.

This duplication of "years ago, years ago" is related to the colloquial flourish of repeating something to make it more extreme:

They lived in a big, big house.

There was this teeny, teeny crack in the windshield that became a very large crack.

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