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Consider the following sentence,

"Do you know if Jason ------ French before moving to France?"

Which of the following options best completes it?

a.has studied
b.has been studying
c.will have been studying
d.will be studying

Is it possible that the sentence refers to an event that already happened, that is, Jason already has moved to France, or it can only be used, the way it is phrased, to refer to an event that is still to happen?

How would you rephrase it in the case that Jason has already moved to France?

Explanation:To my non-native ears, at first it seemed like the question could be referring both to event that already happened, and also to an event that is still in the intent phase.

However, after reading native speakers discuss a similar question, they think that choices a. and b. sound immediately wrong, therefore ruling out the possibility that the sentence refers to something that has already happened.

What is the truth then?

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It can express something that already happened, but not by using a. or b.

Let's assume Jason already moved to France. That means the event that occured before that is already over. So you would use simple past and not present perfect.

Do you know if Jason studied French before moving to France?

If Jason moving to France is a scheduled event in the future, which the question suggests, then I would be torn between choosing either c. or d.

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    The rest is correct but d is the clear "correct" answer... c doesn't seem correct to me... it's over complicated. – Catija Jun 9 '16 at 19:30
  • @Catija: That's what I would have wanted to say, but I couldn't it because I can't be sure. c also does sound overly complicated to me. – MadWard Jun 9 '16 at 19:34
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It could refer to an event in the past, but, if that were the case, you wouldn't use has in the sentence. Instead, it would read:

Do you know if Jason studied French before moving to France?

though I suppose this version would be grammatical, too:

Do you know if Jason studied French before moving to France?

If (b) was intended to be the right answer, then the move would not have happened yet. One way to write that sentence might be:

Do you know if Jason has been studying French before he moves to France?

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The sentence could refer to past or future with the right words in the blank.

Clearly if you put future tense in the blank, then the "moving to France" must logically be in the future also. "Do you know if Jason will study French before moving to France?" If the studying comes before moving, and the studying is in the future, then logically the moving must be in the future also.

If you put past tense in the blank, I think the moving would normally be understood to be past also. "Do you know if Jason studied French before moving to France?" The studying is past. We'd generally assuming the moving is also past, though I suppose not necessarily. If guess if the moving was in the future, than if Jason hasn't studied yet he still might. If we wanted to say that the studying was in the past but the moving was in the future, we'd probably add more words to clarify. Like, "Do you know if Jason studied French for his move to France next month?" or some such.

"Has studied" seems awkward to me. I'm not sure I can give you a rule why it would be wrong.

"Has been studying" would be appropriate if your intent is to say that Jason still is studying. Like, he started studying last month, he's still studying, and the move is in the future.

"Will have been studying" would mean that he hasn't started studying yet, he will study at some time in the future, and then he'll have been continuously studying since ... when? Normally we don't use "will have been" unless there's some other event to contrast it with.

"Will be studying" is fine if the studying and the moving are both in the future.

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