0

Will you understand that I am expressing recent past actions by using present perfect tense. I am telling all actions that happened recently.

I have started learning English in the past year and I have focused on only grammar. Yes, I have been confused and have had many question about the tenses. I also have been lucky that I have found a site and a teacher who is from AEI Yangon page, because of her and this site, I have understood the present perfect tense.What I want to say that if you are interested in English then you have to do that keep learning.You will understand a little by little but never give up and stay as you are. Finally you will have understood all the grammar one day , it is the benefit of what you have studied every days. Be free to learn English.

Is it correct using present perfect tense to show recent past action? I meant recently.

6
  • 1
    You have been given a lot of help about how to use the present perfect, and you accepted an answer of mine explaining how 'recent' can have various meanings. Yes, of course it's correct in general terms. We British use the present perfect more often than Americans do. Commented May 2 at 12:43
  • 1
    @Thamilay The notion of "recency" is precarious to a large extent and may drastically vary among different people and nations and even cultures. The Pr.Perf. is fine in "I have started learning English in the past year" but you might have gotten round to learning almost a year ago. Is "a year term" to be regarded as the recent past? I don't think so. What you should keep in mind is that the time period associated with the Pr.Perf. leads up to the present without any indication of the "closed" past time lapse which cannot break through to the present (in this case use the Past Simple).
    – Eugene
    Commented May 2 at 15:40
  • 1
    Also the Pr.Perf. is frequently used to open up conversations or to introduce a new topic. If it continues on the same subject, going into detail the Pr.Perf can be better swopped for the Past Simple. With that said, the Pr.Perf. often names a new action, whereas the Past Simple refers to actions which are (or have just become) definite in the speaker's mind, drawing hereby attention to the circumstances attending the action rather than the action itself. Сonsequently the functions of the Pr.Perf. and the Past Simple may be in a way compared with those of the indefinite and definite articles.
    – Eugene
    Commented May 2 at 15:50
  • Thank you very much @Kate Bunting
    – Thamilay
    Commented May 2 at 19:49
  • Thank you very much for your additional explanation @Eugene
    – Thamilay
    Commented May 2 at 19:50

1 Answer 1

1

English verb tenses do not distinguish between recent past and distant past. All the various past tenses -- simple past, past perfect, past continuous -- could refer either to recent past or distant pass.

Sometimes we add words to the sentence to specify the time. Like, "I worked for ABC Corp" could mean yesterday, a year ago, or 30 years ago. If you want to make it clear, say when. "I worked for ABC Corp 5 years ago."

Sometimes we make a reasonable guess based on context and real-world experience. Like if I was late for a meeting and the other person asked, "Why were you late?", and I replied, "Because I missed the bus", anyone listening would assume I meant that I missed the bus in the last hour or so, not that I missed a bus 10 years ago. On the other hand, if I said, "Julius Caesar led an invasion of Gaul", listeners would generally assume I meant "during his lifetime", 2000 years ago, and not last week. Etc.

5
  • But when asked "Why are you late?" or "Why were you late?" you couldn't reply "Because I have missed the bus".
    – TimR
    Commented May 2 at 18:01
  • 1
    Yes sir , @TimR.
    – Thamilay
    Commented May 2 at 19:46
  • @timr No, but if someone asked, "Why were you late for work every day this week?", you could reply, "Because I have missed the bus." It can't be used for missing the bus one time, but it can be used for missing the bus multiple times in the recent past.
    – Jay
    Commented May 3 at 14:38
  • @Jay Agreed, or have been missing. Some contexts preclude the present perfect while others allow it or even call out for it. Explaining the differences can be challenging. But you couldn't say "I have missed the bus on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of last week" even though last week is arguably "recent" and that is "multiple times". It's fine until you get to "of last week".
    – TimR
    Commented May 3 at 15:04
  • 1
    @timr Quite true. I didn't mean to give the impression that past perfect can be used ANY TIME the event is in the recent past. Just that whether the event is recent past or long ago has nothing to do with whether it works in the sentence. "I have missed the bus every day for the past week" is valid, and so is, "I have missed the bus every day for the past 20 years". "I have missed the bus on last Thursday" is wrong, and so is "I have missed the bus on Sept 15, 1982".
    – Jay
    Commented May 3 at 15:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .