View Full Version : A Grammar Question

May 14th, 2012, 12:35
Studying past perfect and such.

Is there an easy way to teach kids which verbs may be used without a condition applied to the perfect aspect? I hope I'm wording that correctly; this is getting deeper into grammar than I usually go...

For example:

"I have left the building for ten years" obviously doesn't work.

"I have left the building at five o'clock for ten years" kinda works.

"I have told my friends for two years." Doesn't work.

"I have told my friends about USAA for two years." Works.

Lots of verbs kinda have this requirement; visit, become, lost, meet, sleep, sit. There are various examples for which those verbs might work without a condition, but they tend to be problematic.

Is there any easy way to explain this to kids, or is it just a gigantic pain in the arse?

May 14th, 2012, 13:22
that is kinda tricky. if they have a good enough understanding of english (pretty sure my students wouldnt), you might try explaining that if they can understand the authors meaning and it doesnt sound weird, you dont need a modifier. If you feel like youre missing some info, you shoud prolly add one. But if my schools are any example, I'm not sure that'll work.
It might be best to just give them a list of some words that will generally use a modifier. Maybe some of the ESL websites online will have some advice on it.

May 14th, 2012, 16:30
Wouldn't you say

"I have been leaving the building at five o'clock for ten years"


"I have been telling my friends about USAA for two years"

So this is a case where the present perfect is required, not the past perfect. The past perfect is used for distinguishing which happened first of two specific events that have both ended. All of your examples refer to continuing events and only describe one event happening.

Past perfect examples without a condition from some website I found:

I went to see the movie. We had discussed it in class.

I wanted to live in a foreign country, so I applied for a job in Japan. Judy had lived in Japan, so I called her to find out more about the culture and lifestyle there.

I would think this is fairly easy to explain?

May 14th, 2012, 16:33
what jiggit said [god help me].

May 14th, 2012, 21:41
Hmm, you're quite right. Thank you. Ugh; I should really brush up on this.