October 7th, 2005

userinfo senji
2005/10/07 19:01:00 - A tense situation…

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userinfo vyvyan
2005/10/07 19:44:39
Depends which terminology you want. In the terminology of the grammar course I currently teach, the tense of the verb phrase "have become" is present ("have" rather than "had"), and the aspect is perfect (HAVE + -ed participle, rather than simple/unmarked "become(s)" or progressive: BE + -ing participle). In the second question, "become" is present tense ("become" vs. "became") but simple/unmarked aspect. Neither tense nor aspect corresponds directly to the situation of events in time, but markers of both can be contribute to such a representation (along with e.g. choice of lexical verb, explicit references to times such as "just (now)" or "on Tuesday").
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userinfo cartesiandaemon
2005/10/07 23:50:32
Does "I have become french" mean something different to "I became french" except by emphasising different parts of the sentence?
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userinfo bellinghman
2005/10/08 01:18:41
"I have become" - you are in the new state.

"I became" - you changed state.

"I became French and then, on encountering Steak Tartare, I became English again" makes perfect sense. Substitute "I have become" and it ceases to do so.
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userinfo vyvyan
2005/10/08 08:26:29
Mostly, the present perfect construction (HAVE + -ed participle) is used to describe an event or state which took place or began in the past, but which still has relevance in the present. The simple past tense typically describes an event or state in the past, without any implication of present relevance. This distinction works for "become" quite well:

I became French in 1985 when I married Pierre. (Implies: I may or may not still be French.)
I have become French since we last met. (Implies: I am currently French.)

It would sound quite odd to use "have become" in the first example - in particular, one can't normally use adverbials which locate an event at a specific point in time (in 1985), when using the present perfect. It would sound slightly strange to use "became" in the second example, if the speaker still was French at the time of the dialogue, and indeed corpus studies show that "become" is one of the most commonly used verbs with present perfect aspect (rather than simple past).

(There are other functions for the present perfect and simple past constructions, and certain lexical verb types, where the distinction I made above may not entirely hold; however, I think it works well enough for the example under discussion!)
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A tense situation… - Squaring the circle...

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