A friend says to me "I broke even in poker today." And I want to tell to him that for the time period since he started playing up to now he always breaks even. If I say "You always breaks even," it will contain an implication to the future. But I want to remove this implication. What should I say?

a) You have always broken even.

b) You have always been always breaking even.


The first one is correct for what you are trying to say. Corrections to your other examples are:

You always break even.
You have always been breaking even.

The second one isn't precisely correct, because "have been breaking even" implies a specific period of time up to now, and always isn't specific. More correctly then:

You have been breaking even since the day you started playing.

A humorous example of the latter: My father is now 86. One of his younger friends contacted me and expressed concern about his driving, mentioning that he had seen my father run a stop sign. I told him that "Dad has been running that particular stop sign for 40 years!"

  • Thanks, I have corrected my text. A question: does your last example give the feeling that the person have been playing without interruptions since the day he actually started playing.
    – Graduate
    Jun 29 '13 at 5:40
  • No, it just means that the person hasn't stopped playing yet. In fact, you can even specify that there HAVE been interruptions: "I have been playing poker off and on for 30 years" is the way to say that. In the present tense, "I play poker" doesn't mean that I do nothing else. It just means that I'm in the habit of playing. ("I used to play poker" is the way that we say that we once had the habit and no longer do.)
    – BobRodes
    Jun 29 '13 at 5:50
  • If you had said to your father's friend "Dad has run that particular stop sign for 40 years!", would it have meant that your dad did it more intently?
    – Graduate
    Jul 1 '13 at 3:00
  • 1
    No, in this case they are pretty much the same, given the context of "for 40 years". If you leave that out, "has run" means that he did it at least once in the past, and "has been running" means that he's in the habit of doing it.
    – BobRodes
    Jul 1 '13 at 3:12

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