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I know all about that film because I have seen it twice.

In this sentence the person says they saw the same film twice in the past. Then why is the present perfect used instead of past perfect? Can someone please tell me?

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  • Sorry I didn't know... OK I will check out the help center.. – Shonima Nandakumar Oct 7 '14 at 13:53
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This is a parade example of the resultative present perfect, in which a past event is introduced into a present-tense discourse because it gave rise to a present state.

Specifically, you mention your seeing the film twice in the past as an explanation of how it comes about that you now, at the time of speaking, know about the film.

You are trying to tell me about Citizen Kane and I have to tell you that I know all about that film because I have seen it twice before.

You would employ the past perfect in a past-tense discourse to explain how a state at that past time came about.

Jack was trying to tell me about Citizen Kane and I had to tell him that I knew all about that film because I had seen it twice before.

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Among other uses, the present perfect tense is used to talk about actions that are finished in the past but whose results are felt in the present. It is important that a time expression is not given because that would fix the action in the past, you cannot repeat an action that you did two months ago. However you can repeat an action more than once, at any time and in this case there is nothing to stop you from seeing the same film three, four, or even ten times.

I know all about this film because I have seen it twice/three times/ten times etc.

the speaker does not say when he saw the film, the focus of his statement is his knowledge about the film as a consequence of seeing it. We do not have any information when he saw the film, perhaps he saw it twice in a row, or maybe there was an interval of a year. It is irrelevant because NOW (in the present) he knows how the film ends.

If the speaker mentioned the time, place or date he could say

  • I saw X-Men twice last July. (simple past)
  • I saw X-Men once at the local cinema and once at my friend's house (simple past)

Note that in second example there is no specific time reference, it is clear in the speaker's mind or memory when he saw the film.

To use the past perfect you should write/say

  • I had already seen X-Men twice last July when Tony invited me to the cinema.

  • I had seen X-Men once at the local cinema, and once at my friend's when Tony invited me to watch the DVD.

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Here is a way to remember when to use the past perfect.

If your sentence refers to two different points in time, whether explicitly or implicitly, and both times are in the past, one earlier than the other, then use past perfect. If one of the times referred to is the present, then use the present perfect.

With September approaching, I had hoped to quit my summer job in order to relax a little before the semester began; but Mr Jones said he really needed my help in the shop and offered to give me a generous bonus if I would stay on for a few more weeks.

I know how this movie ends because I have seen it already.

In the first sentence, the person speaking is talking about a time in the past (September) and the hope he had before September arrived. There is an implicit reference to a time when he gave up that hope. He is explaining to someone why he worked all the way through the summer without taking any time off.

In the second sentence, the person is speaking in the present about his present knowledge ("I know") which he acquired by seeing the movie in the past ("have seen").

I entered the room where Bill was sitting. He invited me to sit down and watch the movie with him. I told him that I knew how the movie ended because I had seen it already.

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When the perfect is used as in "I have seen the film twice" the time when it was is irrelevant. Important is the fact and consequently the result that the speaker can talk about the film or has good knowledge of it.

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