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According to my teacher I can say:

I don't know him yet.

However I should not ever say:

I haven't known him yet.

My question is whether I can say these three sentences:

  • I haven't know him yet that long

  • I have known him for two years

  • I have known a lot of people not speaking English very well.

In case I can say them, where is the difference in comparison to my original examples where my teacher doesn't use present perfect (in her opinion should not be used)?

3
  • Has your teacher ever said it would be better to use "I haven't met him yet" in place of "I haven't known him yet"? Is the exmaple, "I haven't known him yet that long" correct? Did your teacher say you still needed to put "yet" there?
    – user24743
    Nov 3, 2015 at 14:07
  • @chaslyfromUK haha true! I doubt this would cause actual confusions but still, English is funny like that!
    – Some_Guy
    Nov 3, 2015 at 14:19
  • @Robusto Agree, I'd rather see this is ELL. I'd be happy to answer it, but I think that OP will get much more helpful answers from the excellent ELL community so I'll wait until it's moved there.
    – Some_Guy
    Nov 3, 2015 at 14:20

1 Answer 1

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Part 1

I haven't known him yet.

The grammatical form of this sentence gives the sense of a one-off completed event. The word that makes this so is 'yet'. 'Yet' means 'so far'. So 'I haven't known him yet' means 'I haven't known him so far' or 'up until this point in time'.

Thus we might say, "I haven't kissed her yet" or "I haven't met her yet."

Both of those refer to an event that has a start and a finish. However, with knowing, it tends not to have a finish -- once you know something, you know it forever. (Alzheimer's or death excepted)

For this reason, the grammatical form of "I haven't known him yet" encourages us to think of a discrete event that has not yet taken place. This promotes the Biblical interpretation of the verb 'to know'. Therefore I would tend to read it as an old-fashioned way of saying "I haven't had sex with him yet."

Maybe your teacher prefers that you don't learn about archaic uses of the verb at this stage and so has excluded that possibility.


Full Definition of KNOW

transitive verb
1 a (1) : to perceive directly : have direct cognition of (2) : to have understanding of (3) : to recognize the nature of : discern
b (1) : to recognize as being the same as something previously known (2) : to be acquainted or familiar with (3) : to have experience of
2 a : to be aware of the truth or factuality of : be convinced or certain of b : to have a practical understanding of
3 archaic : to have sexual intercourse with

Merriam-Webster



Part 2

My question is whether I can say these three sentences: I haven´t know him yet that long,I have known him for two years and I have known a lot of people not speaking English very well.

Firstly I'll correct the sentences.

I haven´t known him that long yet.

I have known him for two years.

I have known a lot of people who didn't speak English very well.

I haven´t known him that long yet.

This sentence is correct. Knowing someone for a length of time is a discrete event. It starts at some point in time and ends at another point in time. It might occur in the following conversation:

"How long have you known John for? Is it over a year?"
"No, I haven´t known him that long yet. In fact the anniversary of our meeting is next week."

I have known him for two years.

Again this is correct. A period of two years has a beginning and an end. Thus 'for two years' describes the length of the period you have known him. The use of present perfect tells us that the end of the period of time in question is now. If the sentence had been, "I knew him for two years" then we understand that you no longer know him (maybe he died or left the country).

I have known a lot of people who didn't speak English very well.

The impression given by the sentence is that you used to know these people or you knew them for a short while but you no longer know them. Your acquaintance with them is over.

I hope this helps.

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  • But it would be perfectly grammatical to say I haven't known him speak ill of people in the past.
    – WS2
    Nov 3, 2015 at 14:57
  • Thank you. My teacher recommended that I´d better use "I haven´t meet him yet" as it was the thing I intended to express by saying "I haven´t known him yet." So do I get it right that " I haven´t known him" can be used only in meaning - I haven´t had sex with him ? Otherwise I should stick to "I don´t know him." From that standpoint "I haven´t know him yet that long" would be incorrect (except that sexual meaning) but "I have known him for two years" and "I have known a lot of people not speaking English very well." is perfectly ok.
    – user142410
    Nov 3, 2015 at 15:03
  • I think your teacher would have said " "I haven´t met him yet" because 'met' is the past participle of 'meet. P.S. I just realised that I didn't fully answer your question so I will add some more to it. Nov 3, 2015 at 15:08
  • @WS2 In that case, the meaning of "know" is closer to "see" and it is perfectly acceptable.
    – user24743
    Nov 3, 2015 at 15:10
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    @user142410 I think we are making a bit too much of the sexual meaning. It is a trifle archaic to say the least - mostly from the 1611 English version of the Old Testament.
    – WS2
    Nov 3, 2015 at 16:19

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