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We have eaten breakfast together every morning since our honeymoon. (I don't understand it.)

We have been eating breakfast together every morning since our honeymoon. (I understand it.)

Is there a difference in meaning between them?

For me the second sentence looks much better. I could understand the first sentence if it were "We have eaten every breakfast together since our honeymoon." This way it would sound like "We have gained every score in this game since the beginning."

What prevents me from understanding the first one is that to eat something every morning is a habitual action and it calls for Present Simple:

We eat breakfast together every morning since our honeymoon.

By the way, is this sentence correct?

  • @J.R.: You might want to check that. None of OP's highlighted sentences would even be grammatical without the word "every", and in the italicised version you wouldn't normally assume every single breakfast unless it was explicitly specified. – FumbleFingers Jun 12 '13 at 22:02
  • @Fumble: Yes, you're right. Here's what I meant to say: The shift of the every isn't necessary. In other words, I have no problem with the O.P.'s first original: "We have eaten breakfast together every morning since our honeymoon." and I don't feel that the every needs to be moved as per the suggested edit: "We have eaten every breakfast together since our honeymoon." Thanks for catching that. – J.R. Jun 13 '13 at 0:45
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    @J.R.: I wouldn't say there's exactly anything "wrong" with "We have eaten every breakfast together since our honeymoon", but it certainly strikes me as a far less likely utterance than "We have eaten breakfast together every morning since our honeymoon". But the real issue, which doesn't seem to have been addressed yet, is why OP is attracted to his final sentence (which is most definitely odd/wrong, but I'm not sure I can precisely explain why, let alone understand what causes OP to come up with it in the first place). – FumbleFingers Jun 13 '13 at 1:01
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    ..as a single, standalone, unsolicited statement, OP's "We eat breakfast together every morning since our honeymoon" sounds decidedly "strange" to me, but it might be perfectly reasonable in contexts where you were particularly stressing every morning, or since our honeymoon (in order to refute someone else's suggestion that you missed some breakfasts, or that you didn't used to eat breakfasts together at all until recently. – FumbleFingers Jun 13 '13 at 1:09
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    @Graduate: I think that active/stative is why we're happy to say I am eating, but not usually I am believing. I don't think it has any relevance to that final sentence, which would be equally unusual with have as with eat. – FumbleFingers Jun 13 '13 at 20:44
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You're using the present perfect tense in the first, and the present perfect progressive in the second.

present perfect tense

1. "We have eaten breakfast together every morning since our honeymoon."

This means that as a married couple, you and your spouse have never spent a single breakfast alone from the first day of your marriage to now, the present day. The action is repeated, and does not exclude the fact that having breakfast together requires a certain duration of time.

Perfectly acceptable, although an unlikely situation if the marriage is longer than six months. (I'm joking!)

Present perfect *progressive/continuous* tense

2. We have been eating breakfast together every morning since our honeymoon.

Literally, this could be interpreted as both of you eating breakfast non-stop since day one of your marriage.

This of course does not make sense; however, the fact you have inserted ever morning means the action is being repeated, it is not uninterrupted as it could appear at first glance. You need to avoid this ambiguity, native speakers will tend to do this automatically without thinking.

Opting for:

Present perfect

"We have eaten breakfast together every morning since our honeymoon."

or

Present perfect

"We have always had/eaten breakfast together since the day of our honeymoon."

or

Simple present

We always have breakfast together, ever since our honeymoon.

(Insert always to emphasize an action is repeated regularly).

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I started to write, "The second one, though likely to be understood in context, would actually be one long breakfast that never ended." I then thought about it some more: They both actually mean the same thing; both are natural and, as far as I can tell, grammatically correct.

  • I'm more inclined to agree with what you started to say. We have been eating breakfast means that they never stopped eating. The first sentence is much better. – Daniel Jun 12 '13 at 20:46

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