Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Originally in the monstrous question Compound sentences, the punctuation and mooore, which I am now trying to split up, I wrote the following sentence:

So lucky I am to find this site!

And suddenly I got pondering on the correct verb tense to be used.

I am embarrassed by the fact that the site is something I have already found, but the sentence contains not a trace of a past tense. Maybe it would be more correct to write "So lucky I am to have found this site"?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

"I am lucky to have found this site" 

is better than

"I am lucky to find this site"; 

but I think

"I was lucky to find this site"

is more idiomatic than either.

share|improve this answer
3  
To back this up, the Google stats look as follows: "I am lucky to have found" beats "I am lucky to find" (664k:156k), and both are beaten by "I was lucky to find" (2,6M). –  RegDwigнt Oct 27 '10 at 12:37

Yes, "to have found" is the right form to use. You found the site in the past, you are done finding it, and you are reflecting on this past event from the present.

Also, "So lucky I am" is an unusual construction; it's not ungrammatical, but it makes you sound like you're overacting. The normal phrasing of your full sentence would be

I am so lucky to have found this site!

To further illuminate the use of present perfect instead of simple past here, consider these alternatives:

I luckily found this site!

I was so lucky to find this site!

share|improve this answer
4  
This may be a nitpicking, but I cannot see the use of past perfect in any of your three sentences. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 27 '10 at 1:34
2  
/agree. past perfect is "I had found". Present perfect is "I have found" - that's the first sentence. simple past is 2nd and 3rd sentences. –  Claudiu Oct 27 '10 at 1:43
    
Thanks! I wanted to express that I felt lucky at the moment about the thing happened in the past with respect to the time. So, sentences 2 and 3 seem not be appropriate. By the way, I wanted the adverb "so" not to amplify the meaning, but to make a connection with the reason why I'm considering myself to be lucky, which had been indicated in the preceding sentence of the original post. Maybe I should have put a comma or have used "thus" instead. –  Eugene Strizhok Oct 27 '10 at 8:07
    
The sentence 3 seems to me even more awkward. I would have written "I was so lucky to had found this site!" (Or "I was so lucky to had this site found!") Maybe there is some crucial rule I don't know? –  Eugene Strizhok Oct 27 '10 at 8:10
    
@Eugene: "to had" is not English. Nor is "to have this site found". "To have found this site" is fine. –  Colin Fine Oct 27 '10 at 11:47

In the case of finding this site, "So lucky I am to find this site" would be incorrect. In fact, when referring to anything that can only be found once this is not correct.

The reason is simple: by putting "to find" in the present tense you are suggesting that you are lucky every time that it occurs, and also that it occurs regularly. I could, for instance, say "So lucky I am to find quarters in the couch cushions!". I find quarters pretty much every week, so it's okay to put this in present tense. You don't find this site every week, though. You found it once in the past.

But now there's one other question that I've seen debated: the difference between past perfect tense and past preterit tense.

Consider the two sentences:

"So lucky I am to have found this site!"

"So lucky was I to find this site!"

At first these both sound like past tense, so they should be acceptable, right? But there's one important difference- the word have. It's made even more confusing in this instance because "found" is both the perfect tense and the past tense for this verb. An example where these two would be different would be "eaten" and "ate". "Eaten" is perfect tense, "ate" is past tense.

So what's the difference between past perfect and past preterit? The past preterit means that something happened and is no longer happening. The past perfect means that something happened, is no longer happening, but still has an affect on the present.

For instance, consider the following two:

"I lost my keys"

"I have lost my keys"

In the first sentence we don't know if the keys are still lost, or if they have already been found. You could easily follow this sentence with "but I found them under my bed".

In the second sentence the keys are still lost. It does not make sense to say "I have lost my keys, but I found them".

So as far as finding this site is concerned, if you are still active and posting on this site then it's correct to say "So lucky I am to have found this site", since the site is still found in the present. If you forget how to find this site in the future, though, and you think back fondly on your wonderful memories here, you would want to say "So lucky was I to find this site". Because at this point we can no longer tie the verb into the present, so we are left with one recourse.

Note that, like the keys example, any time you can use past preterit you can also use past perfect tense. Meaning both are currently correct.

share|improve this answer

On "So lucky I am to find this site!" vs "So lucky I am to have found this site"...

First of all, your question about verb tempus is valid. Just like Zack answered, the second form is to be preferred - "to have found".

Also, as an expansion to Zack's other comment...

"So lucky I am to have found this site" should be changed into EITHER:

"I am so lucky to have found this site" (or "I FEEL so lucky...", or even just "so lucky to have...", omitting the "I am")

OR: "How lucky I am to have found this site" (in this case, "I FEEL" would seem strange)

Being a non-linguist, I can't back up this with WHY these two options are better. Maybe someone else can chime in?

I can only speculate that it has to do with what's being implied. Like this:

"I am so lucky (to the extent that I can now die a happy person) to have found this site",

and "(Words can't express just) How lucky I am to have found this site"

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.