used can also be an adjective meaning 'accustomed'. It is then preceded by be, become or get in any tense and followed by the preposition to + noun/pronoun or gerund:
/ am used to noise.
I am used to working in a noisy room.
You will soon get used to the electric typewriters.
You will soon get used to typing on electric typewriters.
They soon got used to the traffic regulations.
They soon got used to driving on the left.
I am used to ... etc. is a psychological statement. / am used to working in a noisy room means that I have worked in a noisy room, so the noise doesn't bother me; I don't mind it. You'll soon get used to typing on electric typewriters means that after you have used them for a while you will find them quite easy to use.
Very often I'm used to it has the meaning 'I don't mind it/It doesn't give me any trouble', as in the above examples. But it can work the other way. Imagine our canteen serves only tea with its meals. A Frenchman, newly arrived from France, might say:
I'm used to wine with my meals, so I find these lunches rather
Do not confuse subject + be/become/get + used to with subject + used to (see 162).
In the first, used is an adjective and to is a preposition. In the second, used is a verb and to is part of the following infinitive. Do not confuse these forms with the regular verb to use /ju:z/ meaning 'employ'.
17 The present tenses
There are two present tenses in English: The present continuous: I am working. The simple present: / work.
The present continuous
The present continuous tense is formed with the present tense of the auxiliary verb be + the present participle:
I am working
7 am not working
am I working?
you an working
you are not working
are you working?
he/she/it is working
he/she/it is not working
is he/she/it working?
we are working
we are not working
are we working?
you are working
you are not working
are you working?
they are working
they are not working
are they working?
Negative interrogative: am I not working? are you not working? is he not working? etc.
B Contractions: the verb be can be contracted as shown in 102 B, so the present continuous of any verb can be contracted:
Affirmative Negative Negative interrogative
I'm working I'm not working aren't I working?
you 're working you 're not/you aren 't working aren 't you working? he's working etc. he's not/he isn 't working etc. isn 't he working? etc.
Note the irregular contraction aren't I? for am I not?
Interrogative contractions: am, is, are may be contracted as shown in 104 B:
Why's he working? Where're you working?
165 The spelling of the present participle
A When a verb ends in a single e, this e is dropped before ing:
B When a verb of one syllable has one vowel and ends in a single consonant, this consonant is doubled before ing:
hit, hitting run, running stop, stopping Verbs of two or more syllables whose last syllable contains only one vowel and ends in a single consonant double this consonant if the stress falls on the last syllable:
budget, budgeting center, entering (stress not on the last syllable). A final 1 after a single vowel is, however, always doubled:
signal, signalling travel, travelling except in American English. C ing can be added to a verb ending in y without affecting the spelling of
carry, carrying enjoy, enjoying hurry, hurrying
166Uses of the present continuous tense
A For an action happening now: It is raining.
I am not wearing a coat as it isn't cold. Why are you sitting at my desk? What's the baby doing? ~ He's tearing up a £5 note.
B For an action happening about this time but not necessarily at the moment of speaking:
I am reading a play by Shaw. (This may mean 'at the moment of speaking' but may also mean 'now' in a more general sense.) He is teaching French and learning Greek. (He may not be doing either at the moment of speaking.)
When two continuous tenses having the same subject are joined by and,the auxiliary may be dropped before the second verb, as in the above example. This applies to all pairs of compound tenses: She icas knitting and listening to the radio.
For a definite arrangement in the near future (the most usual way of expressing one's immediate plans):
I'm meeting Peter tonight. He is taking me to the theatre. Are you doing anything tomorrow afternoon? ~ Yes, I'm playing tennis with Ann.
Note that the time of the action must always be mentioned, as otherwise there might be confusion between present and future meanings, comeand go,however, can be used in this way without a time expression. (See 202 B.)
167 Other possible uses of the present continuous
A With a point in time to indicate an action which begins before this point and probably continues after it:
At six I am bathing the baby. (I start bathing him before six.) Similarly with a verb in the simple present:
They are flying over the desert when one of the engines fails. The present continuous is rarely used in this way except in descriptions of daily routine and in dramatic narrative, but the past continuous is often combined with a point in time or a verb in the simple past. (See 179 C, E.)
B With always:
He is always losing his keys. This form is used, chiefly in the affirmative:
1 For a frequently repeated action, usually when the frequency annoys the speaker or seems unreasonable to him: Tom is always going away for weekends (present continuous) would imply that he goes away very often, probably too often in the speaker's opinion. But it does not necessarily mean that he goes away every weekend. It is not a literal statement. Compare with always+ simple present: Tom always goes away at weekends = Tom goes away every weekend.(a literal statement) I/we+ always+ continuous tense is also possible here. The repeated action is then often accidental:
I'm always making that mistake. 2 For an action which appears to be continuous:
He's always working = He works the whole time. This sort of action quite often annoys the speaker but doesn't necessarily do so: He's always reading could imply that he spends too much time reading, but could also be said in a tone of approval. The first person could be used here too. The action then, like the other actions here in 2, is usually deliberate.
168Verbs not normally used in the continuous tenses
The continuous tenses are chiefly used for deliberate actions. Some verbs are, therefore, not normally used in the continuous and have only one present tense, the simple present. These verbs can be grouped as follows:
A Verbs of the senses (involuntary actions): feel, hear, see, smell;also noticeand observe(= notice), and feel, look, tasteused as link verbs (see 18 B, C). For feel, look, smell, taste,see also 169. For hear and see,see
Verbs such as gaze, listen, look (at), observe(= watch), stareand watchimply deliberate use of the senses, and can, of course, be used in the continuous tenses:
Watch! ~ I am watching but I don't see anything unusual.
He is listening to a tape, but he's wearing earphones so nobody else
B Verbs expressing feelings and emotions, e.g. admire(= respect), adore, appreciate(= value), care for(= like), desire, detest, dislike, fear, hate, like, loathe, love, mind(= care), respect, value, want, wish.
But the continuous can be used with admiremeaning 'look at with admiration', appreciatemeaning 'increase in value', care formeaning 'look after', long for, mindmeaning 'look after/concern oneself with', valuemeaning 'estimate the financial worth of, enjoyand sometimes like/lovemeaning 'enjoy', and hatemeaning the opposite, though it is safer to use the simple tenses with like, loveand hate:
He's enjoying his holiday in the Arctic. He hates touristy places and
he doesn 't mind the cold.
I'm minding my own business.
How are you liking/Do you like your new job? —
I'm hating it/I hate it. I just don 't like work, you see.
C Verbs of mental activity, e.g. agree, appreciate(= understand), assume, believe, expect(= think), feel(= think), feel sure/certain, forget, know, mean, perceive, realize, recall, recognize, recollect, remember,see (= understand), see throughsomeone (= penetrate his attempt to deceive), suppose, think( = have an opinion), trust(= believe/have confidence in), understand.But the continuous can be used with appreciatemeaning 'to increase in value'. See also 171 for think, assume, expect.
D Verbs of possession: belong, owe, own, possess:
How much do 1 owe you?
E The auxiliaries, except beand havein certain uses. (See 113 B, 115 B, 123.)
It concerns us all. This box contains explosives. But appearmeaning 'to come before the public' can be used in the continuous.
169 feel, look, smell and tasteused in the continuous forms
feel,when followed by an adjective indicating the subject's emotions or physical or mental condition, e.g. angry/pleased, happy/sad, hot/cold, , tense/relaxed, nervous/confident, is normally used in the simple tenses but can also be used in the continuous:
How do you feel/are you feeling? ~ I feel/am feeling better. feelmeaning 'touch' (usually in order to learn something) can be used in the continuous:
The doctor was feeling her pulse. Similarly, feel formeaning 'try to find something by touching':
He was feeling for the keyhole in the dark. But feelis not used in the continuous when it means 'sense':
Don't you feel the house shaking? when it means 'think':
I feel you are wrong and when it is used as a link verb:
The water feels cold.
The continuous is not used with lookused as a link verb, e.g. That cake looks good, or with look on(= consider), look up to(= respect) and look down on(= despise) (see chapter 38). But look (at), look for/in/into/outand look on(= watch) are deliberate actions and can be used in the continuous tenses:
He is looking for his glasses.
I'm looking out for a better job.
The continuous is not used with smellmeaning 'perceive a scent/an odour', e.g. I smell gas, or with smellused as a link verb, but can be used with smellmeaning 'sniff at':
Why are you smelling the milk? Does it smell sour?
tasteas a link verb is not used in the continuous:
This coffee tastes bitter, (has a bitter taste) But tastemeaning 'to test the flavour of can be used in the continuous:
She was tasting the pudding to see if it was sweet enough.
170 seeand hearused in the continuous forms
A see can be used in the continuous when it means 'meet by appointment' (usually for business), 'interview':
The director is seeing the applicants this morning.
I am seeing my solicitor tomorrow. (See 202.) Also when it means 'visit' (usually as a tourist):
Tom is seeing the town/the sights.
It can also be used in the continuous in the following combinations: see about = make arrangements or enquiries:
We are seeing about a work permit for you. (trying to arrange this) see to = arrange, put right, deal with:
The plumber is here. He is seeing to the leak in our tank. see somebody out = escort him/her to the door. see somebody home = escort him/her home. see somebody to + place = escort him/her to + place:
ANN: Is Bill seeing you home after the party?
mary: No, he's just seeing me to my bus.
see someone off = say goodbye to a departing traveller at the starting point of his journey (usually the station, airport etc.):
We're leaving tomorrow. Bill is seeing us off at the airport.
B hear can be used in the continuous when it means 'listen formally to' (complaints/evidence etc.):
The court is hearing evidence this afternoon. hear meaning 'receive news or letters' can also be used in the continuous form but only in the present perfect and future:
I've been hearing all about your accident.
You 'II be hearing about the new scheme at our next meeting.
171 think, assumeand expectused in the continuous forms
A think can be used in the continuous when no opinion is given or asked for:
What are you thinking about? ~ I'm thinking about the play we saw
last night. But
What do you think of it? (opinion asked for) ~ / don't think much oj
it. (opinion given)
Tom is thinking of emigrating. What do you think of the idea? ~
I think it is a stupid idea. He should stay where he is.
B assume can be used in the continuous when it means 'accept as a starting point':
I'm assuming that you have time to do a lot of research. assume power/control of a country or organization can also be used in the continuous:
The new government is assuming power at once.
C expect can be used in the continuous when it means 'await': I'm expecting a letter. She's expecting a baby in May.
The simple present tense
A In the affirmative the simple present has the same form as the infinitive but adds an s for the third person singular.
I do not work
do I work?
do I not work?
you do not work
do you work?
do you not work?
we do not work
do we work?
do we not work?
you do not work
do you work?
do you not work?
they do not work
do they work?
do they not work?
Irregular verbs form this tense in exactly the same way.
B Contractions: the verb do is normally contracted in the negative and negative interrogative (see 103 A): I don't work, he doesn't work, don't I work? doesn 't he work?
C Spelling notes
Verbs ending in ss, sh, ch, x and o add es, instead of s alone, to form the third person singular:
/ kiss, he kisses I box, he boxes
I rush, he rushes I do, he does
I watch, he watches I go, he goes
When y follows a consonant we change the y into i and add es:
/ carry, he carries I copy, he copies I try, he tries but verbs ending in y following a vowel obey the usual rule:
/ obey, he obeys I say, he says
173The simple present used to express habitual action
A The main use of the simple present tense is to express habitual actions:
He smokes. Dogs bark. Cats drink milk.
This tense does not tell us whether or not the action is being performed at the moment of speaking, and if we want to make this clear we must add a verb in the present continuous tense:
He's working. He always works at night.
My dog barks a lot, but he isn 't barking at the moment.
B The simple present tense is often used with adverbs or adverb phrases such as: always, never, occasionally, often, sometimes, usually, every week, on Mondays, twice a year etc.:
How often do you wash your hair?
1 go to church on Sundays. It rains in winter.
or with time clauses expressing routine or habitual actions. whenever and when (= whenever) are particularly useful:
Whenever it rains the roof leaks.
When you open the door a light goes on.
174 Other uses of the simple present tense
A It is used, chiefly with the verb say, when we are asking about or quoting from books, notices or very recently received letters: What does that notice say? ~ It says, 'No parking.' What does the book say? ~ It says, 'Cook very slowly.' I see you 've got a letter from Ann. What does she say? ~ She says she is coming to London next week. Shakespeare says, 'Neither a borrower nor a lender be.' Other verbs of communication are also possible: Shakespeare advises us not to borrow or lend. A notice at the end of the road warns people not to go any further.
B It can be used in newspaper headlines:
MASS MURDERER ESCAPES PEACE TALKS FAIL
C It can be used for dramatic narrative. This is particularly useful when describing the action of a play, opera etc., and is often used by radio commentators at sports events, public functions etc.:
When the curtain rises, Juliet is writing at her desk. Suddenly the window opens and a masked man enters.
D It can be used for a planned future action or series of actions, particularly when they refer to a journey. Travel agents use it a good deal.
We leave London at 10.00 next Tuesday and arrive in Paris at 13.00. We spend two hours in Paris and leave again at 15.00. We arrive in Rome at 19.30, spend four hours in Rome etc.
E It must be used instead of the present continuous with verbs which cannot be used in the continuous form, e.g. love, see, believe etc., so that we can say / love you but not / am loving you. (See 168.)
F It is used in conditional sentences, type 1 (see 221): If 1 see Ann I'll ask her. Unless you take the brake off the car won't move.
G It is used in time clauses
(a) when there is an idea of routine:
As soon as he earns any money he spends it.
She takes the boy to school before she goes to work.
(b) when the main verb is in a future form (see 342): It will stop raining soon. Then we'll go out. = When it stops raining we 'II go out.
18 The past and perfect tenses
The simple past tense
A The simple past tense in regular verbs is formed by adding ed to the infinitive: Infinitive: to work Simple past: worked
Verbs ending in e add d only: Infinitive: to love Simple past: loved
The same form is used for all persons:
/ worked you worked he worked etc.
The negative of regular and irregular verbs is formed with did not (didn't) and the infinitive:
/ did not/didn 't work
you did not/didn't work etc.
The interrogative of regular and irregular verbs is formed with did + subject + infinitive:
did I work? did you work? etc.
Negative interrogative: did you not/didn't you work? etc.
B Spelling notes
The rules about doubling the final consonant when adding ing (see 165) apply also when adding ed:
admit, admitted stop, stopped travel, travelled Verbs ending in y following a consonant change the y into i before adding ed:
carry, carried try, tried but y following a vowel does not change: obey, obeyed.
176 Irregular verbs: form
These vary considerably in their simple past form:
Infinitive: to eat, to leave, to see, to speak
Simple past: ate, left, saw, spoke
The simple past form of each irregular verb must therefore be learnt,
but once this is done there is no other difficulty, as irregular verbs (like
regular verbs) have no inflexions in the past tense.
A list of irregular verbs will be found in chapter 39.
177Use for the relation of past events
A It is used for actions completed in the past at a definite time. It is therefore used:
1 for a past action when the time is given:
/ met him yesterday. Pasteur died in 1895.
2 or when the time is asked about:
When did you meet him?
3 or when the action clearly took place at a definite time even though this time is not mentioned:
The train was ten minutes late. How did you get your present job? I bought this car in Montreal.
4 Sometimes the time becomes definite as a result of a question and answer in the present perfect:
Where have you been? ~ I've been to the opera. ~ Did you enjoy it? (See 184 A for further examples.)
B The simple past tense is used for an action whose time is not given but which (a) occupied a period of time now terminated, or (b) occurred at a moment in a period of time now terminated. These may be expressed diagrammatically. TS here stands for time of speaking in the present.
Examples of type (a):
He worked in that bank for four years. (but he does not work
She lived in Rome for a long time, (but she is not living there now) Examples of type (b):
My grandmother once saw Queen Victoria.
Did you ever hear Maria Callas sing?
These will be clearer when compared with the present perfect (see 182-4).
C The simple past tense is also used for a past habit: He always carried an umbrella. They never drank wine. (For used to indicating past habits, see 162.)
D The simple past is used in conditional sentences, type 2 (see 222).
(For use of the unreal past after as if, as though, it is time, if only, wish, would sooner/rather, see chapters 28, 29.)
The past continuous tense
The past continuous tense is formed by the past tense of the verb to be + the present participle:
Affirmative Negative Interrogative
/ was working I was not working was I working?
you were working you were not working were you working?
he/she/it was working he/she/it was not working was he/she/it working?
we were working we were not working were we working?
you were working you were not working were you working?
they were working they were not working ivere they working?
Negative contractions: / wasn't working, you weren't working etc. Negative interrogative: was he not/wasn't he working? etc.
See 165 for spelling of the present participle. Remember that some verbs cannot be used in the continuous tenses (see 168).
179 Main uses of the past continuous tense
A The past continuous is chiefly used for past actions which continued for some time but whose exact limits are not known and are not important.
It might be expressed diagrammatically. '.....' indicates uncertainty
about times of starting or finishing:
B Used without a time expression it can indicate gradual development: It was getting darker. The wind was rising.
C Used with a point in time, it expresses an action which began before that time and probably continued after it. At eight he was having breakfast implies that he was in the middle of breakfast at eight, i.e. that he had started it before eight. He had breakfast at eight would imply that he started it at eight.
D If we replace the time expression with a verb in the simple past tense: When I arrived
Tom was talking on the phone we convey the idea that the action in the past continuous started before
the action in the simple past and probably continued after it. The diagram may help to show this relationship. The action in the simple past is indicated by X. Compare this combination with a combination of two simple past tenses, which normally indicates successive actions: When he saw me he put the receiver down.
E We use the continuous tense in descriptions. Note the combination of description (past continuous) with narrative (simple past):
A wood fire was burning on the hearth, and a cat was sleeping in front of it. A girl was playing the piano and (was) singing softly to herself. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. The girl stopped playing. The cat woke up.
180 Other uses of the past continuous
This tense can be used as a past equivalent of the present continuous:
A Direct speech: He said, 'I am living in London.' Indirect speech: He said he was living in London.
B Just as the present continuous can be used to express a definite future arrangement:
I'm leaving tonight. I've got my plane ticket. so the past continuous can express this sort of future in the past:
He was busy packing, for he was leaving that night. (The decision to
leave had been made some time previously.)
C The past continuous with always:
He was always ringing me up. He was always working. (See 167 B for present continuous with always.)
181 Past continuous as an alternative to the simple past
The past continuous can be used as an alternative to the simple past to indicate a more casual, less deliberate action:
I was talking to Tom the other day.
The past continuous here gives the impression that the action was in no way unusual or remarkable. It also tends to remove responsibility from the subject. In the above example it is not clear who started the conversation, and it does not matter. Note the contrast with the simple past tense, / talked to Tom, which indicates that I took the initiative. Similarly:
From four to six Tom was washing the car.
This would indicate that this was a casual, possibly routine action. Compare with:
From four to six Tom washed the car. (implying a deliberate action by Tom)
Note that continuous tenses are used only for apparently continuous uninterrupted actions. If we divide the action up, or say how many
times it happened, we must use the simple past:
/ talked to Tom several times. Tom washed both cars. But we may, of course, use the continuous for apparently parallel actions:
Between one and two I was doing the shopping and walking the dog. This tense is normally used in this way with a time expression such as today, last night, in the afternoon, which could either be regarded as points in time or as periods. Periods can also be indicated by exact times as shown above.
In questions about how a period was spent, the continuous often appears more polite than the simple past: What were you doing before you came here? sounds more polite than What did you do before you came here?
On the other hand, What were you doing in my room? could indicate a feeling that I think you had no right to be there, while What did you do in my room? could never give this impression.
The present perfect tense
182 Form and use
The present perfect tense is formed with the present tense of have +
the past participle: / have worked etc.
The past participle in regular verbs has exactly the same form as the
simple past, i.e. loved, walked etc. (see spelling rules, chapter 37).
In irregular verbs, the past participles vary (see 364).
The negative is formed by adding notto the auxiliary.
The interrogative is formed by inverting the auxiliary and subject.
/ have worked you have worked he/she/it has worked we have worked you have worked they have worked
I have not worked you have not worked he/she/it has not worked we have not worked you have not worked they have not worked
have I worked? have you worked? has he/she/it worked? have we worked? have you worked? have they worked?
Negative interrogative: has he not worked? etc.
Contractions: have/has and have not/has not can be contracted thus (see 118): I've worked, you haven't worked, hasn't he worked? etc. The contracted forms are often almost inaudible in colloquial speech. haveand hasmay also be contracted as shown in 104 B: Where 've you been? What's he done?
This tense may be said to be a sort of mixture of present and past. It always implies a strong connexion with the present and is chiefly used in conversations, letters, newspapers and television and radio reports.
183 The present perfect used with justfor a recently completed action
He has just gone out = He went out a few minutes ago. This is a special use of this tense, justmust be placed between the auxiliary and the main verb. This combination is used chiefly in the affirmative, though the interrogative form is possible:
Has he just gone out? It is not normally used in the negative.
184 The present perfect used for past actions whose time is not definite
A The present perfect is used for recent actions when the time is not mentioned:
/ have read the instructions but I don't understand them.
Have you had breakfast? ~ No, I haven't had it yet. Compare with:
I read the instructions last night, (time given, so simple past)
Did you have breakfast at the hotel? (i.e. before you left the hotel:
simple past) Note possible answers to questions in the present perfect:
Have you seen my stamps? ~ Yes, I have/No, I haven't or
Yes, I saw them on your desk a minute ago.
Have you had breakfast? ~ Yes, I have or
No, I haven't had it yet or
Yes, I had it at seven o 'clock or
Yes, I had it with Mary, (time implied)
B Recent actions in the present perfect often have results in the present: Tom has had a bad car crash. (He's probably still in hospital.) The lift has broken down. (We have to use the stairs.) I've washed the car. (It looks lovely.)
But actions expressed by the simple past without a time expression do
not normally have results in the present:
Tom had a bad crash, (but he's probably out of hospital now) The lift broke down, (but it's probably working again now) / washed the car. (but it may be dirty again now)
Actions expressed by the present perfect + yet usually have results in
He hasn 't come yet. (so we are still waiting for him)
q It can also be used for actions which occur further back in the past, provided the connexion with the present is still maintained, that is that the action could be repeated in the present:
I have seen wolves in that forest implies that it is still possible to see them, and
John Smith has written a number of short stories implies that John Smith is still alive and can write more. If, however, the wolves have been killed off and John Smith is dead we would say:
7 saw wolves in that forest once/several times or
1 used to see wolves here and
John Smith wrote a number of short stones.
Note also that when we use the present perfect in this way we are not necessarily thinking of any one particular action (the action may have occurred several times) or of the exact time when the action was performed. If we are thinking of one particular action performed at a particular time we are more likely to use the simple past.
185The present perfect used for actions occurring in an incomplete period
A This may be expressed by the following diagram:
Each X represents an action.
TS stands for 'time of speaking' in the present.
B An incomplete period may be indicated by today or this morning/ afternoon/evening/week/month/year/century etc.
Note that the present perfect can be used with this morning only up to about one o'clock, because after that this morning becomes a completed period and actions occurring in it must be put into the simple past:
(at 11 a.m.) Tom has rung up three times this morning already.
(at 2 p.m.) Tom rang up three times this morning. Similarly, this afternoon will end at about five o'clock:
(at 4 p.m.) 7 haven't seen Tom this afternoon.
(at 6 p.m.) 7 didn't see Tom this afternoon.
The present perfect used with an incomplete period of time implies that the action happened or didn't happen at some undefined time during this period:
Have you seen him today? (at any time today) ~ Yes, I have/
Yes, I've seen him today, (at some time during the day) But if we know that an action usually happens at a certain time or in a certain part of our incomplete period we use the simple past tense. If my alarm clock normally goes off at six, I might say at breakfast:
My alarm clock didn 't go off this morning.
Imagine that the postman normally comes between nine and ten. From nine till ten we will say:
Has the postman come yet/this morning? But after this nine to ten period we will say:
Did the postman come this morning?
We use the past tense here because we are thinking about a complete period of time even though we do not mention it.
C lately, recentlyused with the present perfect also indicate an incomplete period of time.
In the sentences Has he been here lately/recently? and He hasn 't been here lately/recently, lately/recentlymeans 'at any time during the last week/month etc.'; and in He has been here recently, recentlymeans 'at some undefined time during the last week/month etc.' latelyis less usual with the affirmative, except for actions covering periods of time:
There have been some changes lately/recently.
He's had a lot of bad luck lately/recently. recently,used with a simple past tense, means 'a short time ago':
He left recently = He left a short time ago.
D The present perfect can be used similarly with ever, never, always,
occasionally, often, several times etc. and since + a point in time, since + clause, or since, adverb:
1 ANN: Have you ever fallen off a hone?
TOM: Yes, I've fallen off quite often/occasionally. But if Tom's riding days are over, we would have: ANN: Did you ever fall off a horse? (past tense) TOM: Yes, 1 did occasionally/frequently.
2 I haven't seen him since November. Has he written since he left home?
We had a letter last week. We haven 7 heard since.
I've since changed my mind = I've changed my mind since then.
3 The present perfect can be used here for habitual actions:
They've always answered my letters. I've never been late for work.
Sometimes these appear to be continual rather than repeated actions: Since my accident I have written with my left hand. I've worn glasses since my childhood.
We can then use for + a period of time as an alternative to since+ a point in time:
I've used my left hand for a month now.
I've worn glasses for ten years. (See 186.)
4 Note also sentences of this type:
This is the best wine I have ever drunk.
This is the worst book I have ever read.
This is the easiest job I have ever had.
We can use this construction, without ever, with the first, the second etc. and the only:
It/This is the first time I have seen a mounted band.
It is only the second time he has been in a canoe.
This is the only book he has written.
186The present perfect used for an action which lasts throughout an incomplete period
Time expressions include for, since (see 187), all day/night/week, all my etc. life, all the time, always, lately, never, recently.
A The action usually begins in the past and continues past the time of speaking in the present:
He has been in the army for two years. (He is still in the army.) I have smoked since I left school. (I still smoke.) We have waited all day. (We are still waiting.) He has lived here all his life. (He still lives here.) He has always worked for us. (He still works for us.) This type of action might be expressed by a diagram thus:
Compare the above sentences with:
He was in the army for two years. (He is not in the army now.) / smoked for six months, (and then stopped smoking) He lived here all his life. (Presumably he is now dead.)
In each of the last three examples we are dealing with a completed
period of time:
so the simple past tense is used (see 177 B).
B Sometimes, however, the action finishes at the time of speaking: ANN (on meeting someone): I haven't seen you for ages. (but I see you now)
This room hasn't been cleaned for months, (but we are cleaning it now) It has been very cold lately but it's just beginning to get warmer.
This type of action could be expressed by a diagram thus:
C Verbs of knowing, believing and understanding cannot be used in the present perfect except as shown in A above:
/ have known him for a long time.
I have never believed their theories.
So recent actions, even when the time is not mentioned, must be expressed by the simple past:
Did you know that he was going to be married? (Have you known
would not be possible) and
Hello! I didn 't know you were in London. How long have you been
here? think and wonderhowever can be used as in 185 D:
/ have sometimes thought that I should have emigrated.
I have often wondered why he didn't marry her.
D Note that questions/answers such as:
How long have you been here? ~ I've been here six months will normally be followed by general inquiries in the present perfect about actions occurring within the period mentioned, which is regarded as an incomplete period of time:
because the action of staying, being etc., is not yet finished:
Have you been to the zoo/the theatre/the museums/the casino?
Have you enrolled in a school/found a job/met many people? The answers will be in the same tense if no time is mentioned, otherwise they will be in the simple past tense: