English Grammar


preterit versus present perfect

I am still trying to understand the difference between:
He has done his work (Action terminée et ON S'INTERESSE AU FAIT QU'ELLE SOIT TERMINEE)
He finished his homework five minutes ago.(Action terminée. Comment savoir que le résultat ne nous intéresse pas!)
Can I write "He finished his work" omitting ago?
or He has finished his work


Sorry to mix French ad English but I think this question is a real problem for French!


Thanks for help

2 comments

  • I've been pumped up by the way you make out present perfect from preterit.


    Present perfect.
    He has done his work. Am I to take it that the speaker and possibly the listener are interested in the fact that the work has been done i.e. is finished?
    Yes, I think you are right, as the grammar rules say that present perfect is to be used when there is a connection between what happened in the past and the present time.


    Instances:
    1. The present situation is affected by what happened in the past:
    I'll let Jane do the laundry as she has always liked to do it.
    2. The present situation is a consequence of something that happened recently:
    He has done his work yet and he is bored to death.
    3. The past event continues up to now:
    The work is still to be done, he has not done it.
    4. A repeted event in the past is expected to happen again.
    He has always done his daily homework, we can think he will do it today.


    Preterit.
    That tense is used to talk about an event that happened in the past, or existed during some time in the past, but NOT NOW.
    He did his work five minutes ago. (He his no longer busy doing it.)
    He lived in Spain in 2009. (He is no longer living in Spain now.)
    He finished working yesterday. (completely over)
    That doesn't mean we are interested or not in the fact that he fisnished working.


    He has lived in Spain since 2009. (He is still living there by now.)
    He has done his homework. (the homework is ready to handed over.)


    Must an adverb of time be used with the past simple (preterit)? I don't think so. It depends of the way the talk goes.
    What did Jane do this morning?
    She finished her homework.
    Where did you go on vacation?
    I went to Spain. (too bad, my holidays are over)


    All this is from a screwball, Chrisu. You had better get more information from a qualified learning mate.
  • For a "screwball" (I've just discovered the word) your explanations are clear.
    I think that expressing time is more metaphysical in English than in French.
    Hope I'll get the good feeling once.
    Thanks
    Chrisu

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