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Introduction

This question is a mixture of 8th revision of the question "I am been" or "I have been"? and the previous version of the present question which was unclear. Both of the questions are related to each other. The whole question revolves around the use and meaning of different tenses of type simple past and present perfect. Before asking this question I tried to read the canonical post: Canonical Post #2: What is the perfect, and how should I use it? . Unfortunately that post is too much technical for me. That's why I have asked this question. So please try to avoid technical grammar and vocabulary in your answer.

As I understand it, simple past tense is almost same as the present prefect tense with the difference that

  1. simple past implies that the action is finish and in present prefect tenses most of the sentences mean that the act is finished and some mean that the action is going on. In present perfect continues tenses the action is going on, always.

  2. Simple past tense is used to narrate something and present prefect tense is used to mention something

In the following sections, I've told how I understand the meanings of some sentences. If the meanings that I've written are wrong then please explain the correct meaning in your answer. I've also written the specific questions with the label Question in bold.

Comparison of simple past with present prefect

Case 1: Present perfect implies the action is finished but has present consequences.

1(a). I wrote a letter.

Meaning: I wrote a letter in the past which, now, may or may not be available, may or may not be torn out or may or may not be burned. In other words the letter may or may not exist in the universe at present. The act of writing was finished in the past.

1(b). I have written a letter.

Meaning: I wrote a letter in the past and it is still with me(or someone else), or available in some form in some place, even if it's not with me. In other words the letter still exists in this universe at present. The act of writing was finished in the past.

2(a). I ate the food.

Meaning: I ate the food in the past. The act of eating was finished in the past. I may or may not be hungry at present.

2(b). I have eaten the food.

Meaning: I ate the food in the past. The act of eating was finished in the past. I am not hungry at present.

Case 2: Present perfect implies the action is not finished yet

3(a). I lived in Paris for five years.

Meaning: It is explicit that I was living in Paris from 1-Jan-2010 to 1 Jan-2015. I may or may not be living in Paris at present.

3(b). I have lived in Paris for five years.

Meaning: I am living in Paris for the last five years, that is still living there at present, and will continue to live there.

Case 3: Present perfect = Simple Past -- when we mention something rather than narrating.

consider a scenario in which I am talking with someone while walking with them on a long road at 3.00 PM.

Me:\ \ I am very hungry.
They: Haven't you eaten the food at 2.30 PM?
Me:\ \ I have eaten the food.

Meaning: I ate the food in the past. The act of eating was finished in the past. I am still hungry at present.

Case 4: I do not know what present perfect means here.

5(a) I was, for a short time, an employee of that company.
5(b) I was, an employee of that company, since some time ago.
5(c) I have been, for a short time an employee of that company.
5(d) I have been, an employee of that company, since some time ago.

Question 1:

  • Does 5(a), 5(b), 5(c) and 5(d) mean that I am working for that company at present?
  • Does 5(a), 5(b), 5(c) and 5(d) mean that I am not working for that company at present?
  • Does 5(a), 5(b), 5(c) and 5(d) mean that I may or may not be working for that company at present?
  • Does the meaning depend upon the context?

How to narrate about a “past hypothetical situation” in English?

As I said before, simple past tense is used to narrate something and present prefect tense is used to mention the same thing. E.g. consider the following example(taken from this post):

Narrative version: 6(a) The children played in the sandbox for a while, then moved to the swings. At four o'clock their mother called them inside because it looked like rain.

Mentioning version: 6(b) The children have played in the sandbox and left their toys there. Tell them to go bring their toys inside.

In 6(a) the act of playing by the children has no present consequences and the act was finished in the past. In 6(b) the act of playing by children has present consequences and the act has just finished at the present. The consequence of the act is that they are asked to get their toys inside.

I am playing the role role of Lion and conversing with some Tiger in the following context. In the narrating version, I am narrating my thoughts to the Tiger, and in the mentioning version, I am mentioning my thoughts to the Tiger.

Narrating version

Hypothetical present: Suppose, I were King of the forest, and I loose a fight with the Python, what would you think of me?

Meaning: In reality, I am no king at present. I am asking the Tiger to imagine a scenario in which I am king of the forest at present January 2015, and I loose a fight with the Python. I am asking the Tiger what he would think about me if this situation were real.

x-Real simple past: I was King of the forest, and I lost a fight with the python, what do you think of me?

Meaning: I was, in real, king of forest in the past. I lost a fight in the past. I am asking the Tiger what he thinks about me. Since, the sentence is simple past the fact of my being the king in the past has no present consequences and I may or may not be king at present .

y-Hypothetical simple Past: Suppose, I ________(had been?) king of the forest, and If I had lost a fight with the python, what would you think of me?

y-Meaning: I was, in real, never a King in the past. I am asking the Tiger to imagine a scenario in which I be king of the forest at past, say, January 2004, but I lost a fight with the python in the January 2001. I am asking the Tiger what he would think about me if this situation were real. Since, the sentence is simple past the fact of my being the king in the past has no present consequences and I may or may not be king at present in that imaginary scenario.

Mentioning version

x-Real Present Perfect: I have been King of the forest, isn't that enough to make a fear of me in pythons?

Meaning: I was in real, King, of the forest in the past. Since, the sentence is present perfect the fact of my being the king in the past has present consequences and I am for sure, not King of the forest at present --- the consequence is the fear of me in the pythons. The Tiger thinks that the fear in the Pythons is because of something else not because of my being the King in the past. I am asking him, isn't my being the King in the past enough to make a fear of me in pythons?

y-Hypothetical present perfect: Suppose, I have been King of the forest, wouldn't that be enough to make a fear of me in pythons?

Meaning: I was in real, no King, of the forest in the past. I am asking the Tiger to imagine a scenario in which I be king of the forest in past. Since, the sentence is present perfect the fact of my being the king in the past has present consequences and I am for sure, not King of the forest at present in that imaginary scenario --- the consequence is the fear of me in the pythons. The Tiger thinks that the fear in the Pythons would be because of something else not because of my being the King in the past. I am asking him, wouldn't my being the King in the past enough to make a fear of me in pythons?

Real Past Perfect: I had been the king of the forest, wasn't that enough to make a fear of me in pythons?

Meaning: I was, in real, king of the forest in the past, but I retired from that post after some time in the past, say I was king from 1950 to 1970. The fact of my being the king in the past(1950-1970) had consequences in 1970 I have for sure, not been King of the forest from 1970 onwards. The consequence was the fear of me in the pythons in 1970. The Tiger thinks that the fear in the Pythons was because of something else not because of my being the King in the past(50-70). I am asking him, wasn't my being the King in the past enough to make a fear of me in pythons?

z-Hypothetical Past Perfect: Suppose, I had been king of the forest, wouldn't that have been enough to make a fear of me in pythons?

z-Meaning: I was, in real, never a King in the past from 1950 to 1970. I am asking the Tiger to imagine a scenario in which I be king of the forest at past from 1950 to 1970 The fact of my being the king in the past(1950-1970) had consequences in 1970 I have for sure, not been King of the forest from 1970 onwards in that scenario. The consequence was the fear of me in the pythons. The Tiger thinks that the fear in the Pythons would have been because of something else not because of my being the King in the past(50-70). I am asking him, wouldn't my being the King in the past enough to make a fear of me in pythons?

Question: How should I fill the blank in y-Hypothetical simple past so that it's meaning will still remain y-meaning. If I fill it with had been then it will no longer be a narrative sentence; it will become a past Perfect and mentioning sentence equivalent to z-Hypothetical past perfect.

Question: How to speak about a Future hypothetical sentence? That is how can I say, suppose I will become king of the forest?

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    I deleted my answer because I am not sure I understand your question. Are you asking to imagine a situation wherein you became king in the past and still were, or a situation wherein you were king for some time in the past but no longer were? – Adam Jan 15 '15 at 18:47
  • @Adam Actually both of them, 1. I am asking to imagine a situation wherein I became king in the past and still were -- The fact that I am still the king at present should be explicit(self evident). 2. I am asking to imagine a situation wherein I became king in the past. The information of whether I am king at present or not should not be there. – user31782 Jan 15 '15 at 18:51
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    Suppose I had become king in 1993.... – user6951 Jan 15 '15 at 18:57
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    It is clear you do not understand how we use verbs. I say this based on your posted understanding of what the present perfect means. In every single example of what you say the present perfect means, you are either wrong or giving only one possible meaning. We also in standard English would not say Suppose there were a robot but Suppose there was... Given your questionable understanding of verb phase, tense, aspect and mood, I doubt I know what you mean by "I am been the robot." It is ungrammatical in standard English. Always. – user6951 Jan 17 '15 at 12:14
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    In your previous question, one person said that I am been means something. Everyone else said it is wrong and meaningless. In this case the majority was correct. You cannot passively be been like you can passively be seen. There is no use correct/meaningful use of am been. – Adam Jan 17 '15 at 12:15
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Were I king = if I were king.

It is a present hypothetical. If I were king, I would make my birthday a national holiday.

Had I been king = if I had been king.

It is a past hypothetical. If I had been king, I would have given America its independence without a fight.

P.S. In response to the edited question which includes this:

How can I narrate a sentence which asks the listener to imagine that ... I was the King in some past time. In other words, the truth is that I was never a King in the past but I am asking the listener to imagine a situation in which I became King in past.

Suppose I had been king.

That is, past perfect.

P.P.S. If the question is specifically about a hypotethical scenario in the past where you became king:

Suppose I had become king.

If I had become king, it would not have been by primogeniture, because I had a living older brother.

  • If "I had been king" is narrative than how can mention the same? – user31782 Jan 16 '15 at 13:11
  • Don't we use the before the word "King"? – user31782 Jan 16 '15 at 13:12
  • We can, be we are not required to do so. The cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz sings "If I were king of the foreessst..." youtube.com/watch?v=gOCNY9pJ850 – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 16 '15 at 13:18
  • I don't understand your question If "I had been king" is narrative than how can mention the same? What do you mean, "mention the same"? To what does "the same" refer? Also, I did not write "I had been king" but "if I had been king." – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 16 '15 at 16:15
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    If I had been king.... is not a "perfect sentence". The back-shifting of the tense to past-perfect had been signals a past hypothetical. To signal a present hypothetical, the tense-shifts from am [present form of the verb to be] to were (or was) [simple past of the verb to be]. So English cannot signal a past hypothetical with a simple past form because that form is already used for the present hypothetical. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 17 '15 at 16:34

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