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@Lucas posted:

Can we express both completion and duration with perfect tense?

For example, "I have run for 30 minutes." Is this construction correct?

Hello, Lucas, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

If you mean that you have been running for the last 30 minutes, you need to say that you have been running for the last 30 minutes.

"I have run for 30 minutes" could be used in answer to such questions as "Have you ever run for 30 minutes?" and "For how long have you run?"

Last edited by David, Moderator

Hi, David, I'm glad to be here

I don't mean that I have been running for 30 minutes because that would mean that either I'm still running or I've just finished running.

Whereas, I ran for 30 minutes this morning. And because usually I run only for 5 minutes, it was so exhausting to me that I'm still tired from the running, even though it's already, let's say 2 p.m.

So, "I have been running for 30 minutes" wouldn't convey my meaning, nor would just "I have run" because how long I ran is very important in my meaning.

Hmmm, I think that my "I have run for 30 minutes" is an answer to the question "Why are you so tired?," but it could also answer the question "For how long have you run today?"

The question is whether the present perfect can be used with an action that is already completed, with emphasis on how long the action lasted.

I hope you get my point

Last edited by Lucas

You should use "just," Lucas: "I have just run for 30 minutes." "I have just read/cooked/fished/swum/etc.  for an hour." Note, however, that the "completed action" is merely an activity here, not an accomplishment (running a mile, reading 50 pages, etc.). The situation denoted by the verb phrase matters. If you'd like more clarification, let me know. I have composed this short post on my cell phone. I am away from my computer right now.

Last edited by David, Moderator

That's ok, David. I'm happy you reply at all

Are you sure inserting "just" is the way to go? I think it might suggest that the action (running) has just finished, which is not in my situation (I ran in the morning).

If you could clarify, please, what you mean that the completed action is not an achievement, but an activity.

I'm not in a rush. Take your time and reply whenever is convenient for you

@Lucas posted:

That's ok, David. I'm happy you reply at all

You're very welcome, Lucas.

@Lucas posted:

Are you sure inserting "just" is the way to go? I think it might suggest that the action (running) has just finished, which is not in my situation (I ran in the morning).

Yes, I am sure that inserting "just" is the way to go. And yes, it does suggest that the action has just finished. However, what "just" means is relative to the speaker and the context. If I had run a marathon in the morning, I would be dead tired for the rest of the day, and I could truthfully say, at 9 p.m. at night, in response to the question "Why are you so tired?," "I have just run a marathon."

That need not mean that I finished running the marathon a second ago or whatever particular small amount of time you may associate with "just." It's relative. You are using a specific example to ask a general question: "The question is whether the present perfect can be used with an action that is already completed, with emphasis on how long the action lasted."

The answer to the general question is "yes." USE "JUST." Yes, it will mean that the action was recently completed, but how recently it was completed will be totally relative to the context. If, for you, running for 30 minutes means little more than it means to me—I might be tired for ten minutes or so after running for that amount of time (though I suppose 30 minutes of near sprinting would be a different story)—then "I have just run for 30 minutes" would not be the right sentence to use later on in the day. Use the simple past instead.

@Lucas posted:
Hmmm, I think that my "I have run for 30 minutes" is an answer to the question "Why are you so tired?," but it could also answer the question "For how long have you run today?"

This quotation is from your earlier reply. Your sense of what "I have run for 30 minutes" means and how such a sentence would normally function in discourse tells me that you are likely a nonnative speaker, even though you write fairly well in English and wish to debate my original answer. Please review what I told you that your sentence means in my first reply. If you would like further clarification about what I said, please ask me.

@Lucas posted:
If you could clarify, please, what you mean that the completed action is not an achievement, but an activity.

I used the term "accomplishment," not "achievement." States, activities, achievements, and accomplishments are technical terms used in the study of verbal aspect. They are properties that belong to verb phrases rather than just to verbs. While the verb phrase in "I am running" denotes an activity, the verb phrase in "I ran a mile" denotes an accomplishment (crucially, it is a telic verb phrase, denoting a situation with an inherent termination point).

You can say "I have run for 30 minutes" but not "I have run a mile for thirty minutes." Actually, you can say "I have run a mile for thirty minutes," but that would mean that you kept running that distance over and over again for 30 minutes—a strange meaning. It does NOT have the same meaning as "I have run a mile in 30 minutes."

If you would like me to provide detailed explanations about activity VPs, achievement VPs, accomplishment VPs, and stative VPs, please request this separately.

Last edited by David, Moderator

Thank you for explaining the use with the word "just." However, I think it's not what I'm after here (I'm sorry, probably I haven't formulated my question well enough).

Nevertheless, I can't help but notice that, in the next to last paragraph of your last reply, you kind of changed your mind and said that I can say "I have run for 30 minutes" without the word "just" (if you just forgot to add this word in, then forget it).

I think what I really wanted to know is whether we can add an adverbial phrase that indicates a time span (like for 30 minutes) to the use of the present perfect called "present result" in this photo:

Screenshot_20200601-184651_Drive

It is important that there be no "just." Also, it is clear in this use that the action hasn't just happened (I could have lost my keys even 2 days ago and it would still make sense).

Of course, adding the adverbial to this very sentence wouldnt make any sense (*I have lost my keys for 30 minutes lol). I just mean to add it where it could make sense, like in my running sentence.

I'm sorry for creating this mess, but I dare blame the grammar rules for my confusion and lack of understanding because they are not clear nor learner-friendly.

Finally, thank you for complimenting me on my writing. I'm flattered since, I believe, you are a native English speaker and yet seem to be very knowledgeable about English.

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@Lucas posted:

Nevertheless, I can't help but notice that, in the next to last paragraph of your last reply, you kind of changed your mind and said that I can say "I have run for 30 minutes" without the word "just" (if you just forgot to add this word in, then forget it).

Well, Lucas, I can't help noticing that you have missed the point of my explanation in that paragraph, in which I hadn't changed my mind about anything or forgotten to add in a word. I'm not sure that you have tried to understand any of the explanations I have given you in this thread.

@Lucas posted:
I think what I really wanted to know is whether we can add an adverbial phrase that indicates a time span (like for 30 minutes) to the use of the present perfect called "present result" in this photo:

With verb phrases denoting activities, such as "have run," "have swum," "have ridden a bicycle," you can indeed use the present perfect (resultative) with an adverbial phrase like "for 30 minutes," indicating a time span of duration— provided you use the word "just" in between "have" and the past participle.

@Lucas posted:
It is important that there be no "just."

You are wrong. It is important that "just" be there for the meaning you want.

@Lucas posted:

Also, it is clear in this use that the action hasn't just happened (I could have lost my keys even 2 days ago and it would still make sense).

Losing something is a completely different type of case from running. That is why I took the trouble to explain a little (much more could be said, of course) about the difference between verb phrases that denote activities as opposed to verb phrases that denote accomplishments, achievements, and states.

Losing something is conceptualized by English speakers as a punctual (non-durative) event. So, although you are right that "I have lost my keys" can be used to indicate the present result of the speaker's not having his keys right now even if the key losing happened two days ago, that fact is IRRELEVANT.

You are asking about activity verb phrases (like running), not about achievement VPs (in verbal aspect jargon, losing something denotes an "achievement") or accomplishment VPs (like running a mile, reading 50 pages, etc.), or stative VPs (like knowing something, being somewhere, etc.).

@Lucas posted:
Of course, adding the adverbial to this very sentence wouldnt make any sense (*I have lost my keys for 30 minutes lol).

Actually, your judgement that the sentence "I have lost my keys for 30 minutes" is ungrammatical is incorrect. What you fail to understand is that that sentence means that the speaker has had the experience, at some point in his life, of losing his keys for 30 minutes. It is perfectly grammatical on that interpretation.

@Lucas posted:
I'm sorry for creating this mess, but I dare blame the grammar rules for my confusion and lack of understanding because they are not clear nor learner-friendly.

Finally, thank you for complimenting me on my writing. I'm flattered since, I believe, you are a native English speaker and yet seem to be very knowledgeable about English.

It was not my intention to flatter you. Although you write fairly well in English, you are clearly not a native speaker and have a long way to go in your reasoning about the present perfect. Meanwhile, your responses indicate that you enjoy disagreeing with a grammar expert and native speaker. This is foolishness.

Last edited by David, Moderator

First of all, I knew neither you were a grammar expert nor a native English speaker (I don't have permission to view anyone's profile), but it didn't take me long to notice you weren't a linguistic amateur. And yes, I think I might get some pleasure from arguing, but there's nothing wrong with that; often, I may disagree with the other person just to encourage them to give more arguments so I can understand better. (Although I might have a long way to go in my reasoning about the present perfect, I can clearly see I HAVE UPSET you, even if only a tiny bit - I'm sorry it wasn't my intention, either.)

 

Actually, your judgement that the sentence "I have lost my keys for 30 minutes" is ungrammatical is incorrect. What you fail to understand is that that sentence means that the speaker has had the experience, at some point in his life, of losing his keys for 30 minutes. It is perfectly grammatical on that interpretation.

Ok, I agree I was totally wrong here.

 

Losing something is a completely different type of case from running. That is why I took the trouble to explain a little (much more could be said, of course) about the difference between verb phrases that denote activities as opposed to verb phrases that denote accomplishments, achievements, and states.

I think I would be very happy to create another thread to learn more about it.

 

You are wrong. It is important that "just" be there for the meaning you want.

 

Ok, if you insist on it, I'm through with it.

 

With verb phrases denoting activities, such as "have run," "have swum," "have ridden a bicycle," you can indeed use the present perfect (resultative) with an adverbial phrase like "for 30 minutes," indicating a time span of duration— provided you use the word "just" in between "have" and the past participle.

You know what annoys me? That, for some reason, nobody really bothers to explain this kind of nuances; like they are not important. Believe me, having been learning English for years, I've read an enormous number of articles on English tenses, and you're still the first one telling me this.

So, I guess we're done with this thread. Thank you very much for your time to respond.

Last edited by Lucas
@Lucas posted:

Ok, if you insist on it, I'm through with it.

Let me try to reach you with this point one last time. The time domain of the present perfect is the so-called "pre-present," a time period which extends from some indefinite point in the past right up to (but not including) the temporal zero point, which is normally the time of speech.

Thus, a sentence like "I have run for thirty minutes" locates thirty minutes of the speaker's running in the pre-present period. The pre-present period will be interpreted either as the speaker's lifetime thus far or as a thirty-minute period that has very recently occurred.

If you were a native speaker, you would appreciate the fact that the default interpretation is the speaker's lifetime. Because that is the default interpretation of a sentence like "I have run for 30 minutes," the adverb "just" is needed to indicate that those 30 minutes were close to the time of speech.

All of that having been said, it is possible to imagine scenarios in which "just" would be implicitly understood. If we were at an athletic event and looking at fatigued athletes in a resting area, one could ask, e.g., "What has he done?" and receive the answer "He has run for 30 minutes," with "just" understood.

However, the possibility of such contexts does not prove that "just" is not needed in non-special contexts. The importance of "just" has to do with its function in the interpretation of the present perfect. Other indefinite adverbials with similar meaning, such as "very recently," are also possible.

Last edited by David, Moderator

Now, I've got your point very well. However, I'm now very tempted to ask whether we can modify the time domain of the present perfect with adverbials like "today," "this week," or "this year," and construct a sentence like, "I have run for 30 minutes this week." (Now, it's not the speaker's life time, nor is it close to the time of speech.) I'm just asking whether it's allowed.

Another question that irresistibly comes to my mind is what is really the difference, then, between "I've just run for 30 minutes" and "I've been running for 30 minutes" (let's assume that the action has just finished in the latter as well).

Last edited by Lucas
@Lucas posted:

I'm now very tempted to ask whether we can modify the time domain of the present perfect with adverbials like "today," "this week," or "this year," and construct a sentence like, "I have run for 30 minutes this week." (Now, it's not the speaker's life time, nor is it close to the time of speech.) I'm just asking whether it's allowed.

Yes, the present perfect is also often used with time adverbials referring to periods that are still in progress (the day, the week or the year have not yet ended).

@Lucas posted:

Another question that irresistibly comes to my mind is what is really the difference, then, between "I've just run for 30 minutes" and "I've been running for 30 minutes" (let's assume that the action has just finished in the latter as well).

This takes us back to the beginning and other parts of this thread, according to which the present perfect progressive emphasizes the continuity of the action throughout its performance and most probably into the present.

Hello, Gustavo, and thank you for your contribution to my query. 

 

Yes, the present perfect is also often used with time adverbials referring to periods that are still in progress (the day, the week or the year have not yet ended).

That's very nice. I like to be given the freedom to alter the time domain of the present perfect tense.

It should mean that I can turn "I have just run for 30 minutes (this morning, that's why I'm still tired)" into "I have run for 30 minutes today (this morning, that's why I'm still tired)," am I right? 

That's brilliant - I have achieved expressing what I wanted without using the adverb "just."

 

This takes us back to the beginning and other parts of this thread, according to which the present perfect progressive emphasizes the continuity of the action throughout its performance and most probably into the present.

This is what I still have problems to feel.

Could you, please, invent possible context for each use so I can see more clearly the difference between "I have just run for 30 minutes," and "I have been running for 30 minutes" (with the action being completed in the latter one)?

Last edited by Lucas
@Lucas posted:

Screenshot_20200601-184651_Drive

 

Hi Lucas, this is a nice poster I haven’t seen before and I find it useful for my own teaching work as it looks neatly logical and exhaustive. Thank you very much.

It’s interesting that in this very poster there are the two sections “Life experience” and “Unfinished time word”, which may have helped dispel some doubt. Under “Life experience”, “I’ve run for 30 minutes.”, as David pointed out, can be an answer to questions like “Have you ever run for 30 minutes?” It is comparable to the example sentence “I’ve been to Tokyo.” Here “in my life” is the hidden time indicator.

Under “Unfinished time word”, it says use with words like “this week, today”, so I’m surprised you sounded quite inspired to hear that we can say “I have run for 30 minutes today.” The answer seems to be there in the poster already. 

So without a prior question context, this statement in question alone can be ambiguous, unless you add time adverbials “today”, “in my life”, etc.

One point I’d like to add is I don’t think you have to be tired at all when you say “I have run for 30 minutes today”, you may just be recording an accomplishment (hopefully I’m using this word properly) of the day, like having met some health or workout target. Look at the poster again, and we are now in the “unfinished time word” box, so we don’t need to care about “present result”, which is another box.

Under “Unfinished time word”, it says use with words like “this week, today”, so I’m surprised you sounded quite inspired to hear that we can say “I have run for 30 minutes today.” The answer seems to be there in the poster already. 

Hi, Kinto.

Yeah, you're interpreting the poster well. However, I was so exhilarated to know I can use those time words together with adverbials that answer the question "how long?" (For 30 minutes, 2 hours, three days), which as you can see in the poster, are included but in the use with UNFINISHED actions. (So not mention here you can use those adverbials with finished actions).

But it's not just this site I've taken this poster from (this site seems very nice, btw). I'm attaching three pics from random grammar sites on the internet, and notice that none of them has used an example with a completed action, time span, and an adverbial like "today."

Screenshot_20200602-190701_Chrome

Screenshot_20200602-190809_Chrome

Screenshot_20200602-190845_Chrome

Even if they do provide an example with a time span, like in the first pic "I haven't seen my brother for 2 months," not only is it with a stative verb, but also usually with negation. (But in this case, there is no even the other time word.)

So at the end of the day, if someone, like me, wants to make sure whether action verbs can be used with both a time span (for 30 minutes) and adverbs like "today," there is really no source on the internet that would take a side on this matter, which I find very strange.

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@Lucas posted:
That's very nice. I like to be given the freedom to alter the time domain of the present perfect tense.


It should mean that I can turn "I have just run for 30 minutes (this morning, that's why I'm still tired)" into "I have run for 30 minutes today (this morning, that's why I'm still tired)," am I right? 

That's brilliant - I have achieved expressing what I wanted without using the adverb "just."

Hold your horses, Lucas. While it was good of Gustavo to point out to you that the present perfect can be used with adverbials other than "just," you should not interpret this as meaning that the sentence "I have run for 30 minutes today" would be a good sentence to use for a meaning involving present result.

The sentence "I have run for 30 minutes today" is really rather strange and does not suggest anything about present result. If I were to use that sentence, it would likely contain something more, such as "I have run for 30 minutes today so far. By the end of the day, I expect to have run for a full hour."

Again, the adverb to use is "just" for the present-result meaning with verb phrases of the type that you are asking about, namely, verb phrases denoting non-telic durative activities like running. If "just" doesn't apply to the situation you have in mind, simply change to the simple past and all will be well:

  • I ran for 30 minutes earlier today / this morning / 5 hours ago. I'm so out of shape that I still feel exhausted from the exertion.

If you won't rest content unless you have an alternative to "just," you can try the alternative that I mentioned earlier in this thread ("very recently"): "I have very recently run for 30 minutes." I don't think that works as smoothly as "just," but I don't want you to have the sense that you have no freedom of choice.

That said, context does matter. If you are very out of shape and running for 30 minutes constitutes a great exertion for you, then I suppose you could say "I have run for 30 minutes" later on in the day with a present result meaning, provided you were talking to people that knew you were out of shape.

Another example that comes to mind is driving. I suppose one might say something like "I have driven for five hours today" a while after the driving was done to convey that one was still tired from it. However, I think most native speakers would likely say "I drove for five hours earlier today" instead.

Below is a quote concerning the importance of "just" in this type of tense context from a tense book by the linguist Renaat Declerck. Since you seem not to want to take it from me that "just" is needed to cancel out the experiential (speaker's lifetime) interpretation, perhaps you will yield to Declerck.

Quote:
"If just combines with the present perfect, the resulting temporal interpretation is always an indefinite one. From a functional point of view, such a sentence (e. g. I've just seen Sharon) can be used to express 'hot news' or a present result, but not to convey an 'experiential reading'. This means that an indefinite perfect combining with just always receives a 'recency reading' (since, unlike the experiential reading, the hot news reading and the present result reading are recency readings)" (p. 249).

- Declerck, R. (2006). The Grammar of the English Verb Phrase: Volume 1: The Grammar of the English Tense System: A Comprehensive Analysis. New York, NY: Mouton de Gruyter.

Last edited by David, Moderator

This is soooooo confusing! I wish language were as easy as math - 2 plus 2 is 4 no matter what.

I think the message you're trying to deliver for me is that the only way to show present result with verbs denoting non-telic durative activities used with the present perfect is to use "just" (or any similar in meaning adverbial, like "very recently"). 

I think there are many grammarians out there who would say that the present perfect IN GENERAL is used to show that a past action affects the present (so has present result), and that if a past action doesn't affect the present in any way, then we should use the past simple instead (even without a specific time reference, which is also confusing to me). Like this source states:

Screenshot_20200603-084830_Chrome

This is from the same site I've taken the poster. Its author has received Master's degree from Cambridge, so the content on her website should be trustworthy. (Notice how I've just used the present perfect to show present result without using "just" - the author's graduation certainly happened long time ago, no way to use "just," but still has present result. But, yeah, probably "receiving" is not a non-telic durative activity).

 

 Below is a quote concerning the importance of "just" in this type of tense context from a tense book by the linguist Renaat Declerck. Since you seem not to want to take it from me that "just" is needed to cancel out the experiential (speaker's lifetime) interpretation, perhaps you will yield to Declerck.

Quote:
"If just combines with the present perfect, the resulting temporal interpretation is always an indefinite one. From a functional point of view, such a sentence (e. g. I've just seen Sharon) can be used to express 'hot news' or a present result, but not to convey an 'experiential reading'. This means that an indefinite perfect combining with just always receives a 'recency reading' (since, unlike the experiential reading, the hot news reading and the present result reading are recency readings)" (p. 249).

- Declerck, R. (2006). The Grammar of the English Verb Phrase: Volume 1: The Grammar of the English Tense System: A Comprehensive Analysis. New York, NY: Mouton de Gruyter.

Hmmm, if I understand this excerpt well, the main idea of this fragment is that using "just" always refers to the recent past (right before present), which I've never had doubts about. However, Declerck doesnt say that ONLY recent actions can have present result, which is our concern, I think.

And please, dont take this response as an offence. I'm just very confused of all this (I've been so since I started learning English, as a matter of fact), and I dont have fun trying to fathom those terrible tenses, which seem unfathomable to me. :/

Maybe I should just quit English and take up painting, singing, or running lol because English tenses seem beyond my mental capacity. Lol

And they say English is the easiest language to learn. My native language is Polish, which is considered super hard to learn, but I don't think there is anything as difficult to learn in Polish as English tenses. Lol

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Last edited by Lucas
@Lucas posted:

I think the message you're trying to deliver for me is that the only way to show present result with verbs denoting non-telic durative activities used with the present perfect is to use "just" (or any similar in meaning adverbial, like "very recently").

That's right, and that's why whenever you paste in quotes that have nothing to do with present-perfect verb phrases denoting non-telic durative activities you are wasting thread space and my time and proving nothing that is relevant.

Ok, I don't want to waste anything, thus I will not write in this thread anymore.

Soon, I will create a new one, though, asking about the different types of verb phrases. I'm curious about them, and maybe this knowledge will help me understand English tenses better.

Thank you, everyone, for contribution to this long thread.

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