I guess the question sounds a bit intimidating, but the real-life example I am referring to should be easy for a native speaker.

I am proofreading, or rather copy editing, a research paper intended for an international conference. Neither me nor my co worker who wrote it is a native English speaker. I managed to set lots of grammar straight, but there is a sentence I find extremely tricky.

She writes "The framework is developed since about eight years". As far as I can tell, the grammatically correct form of this sentence is "The framework has been in development for about eight years".

To me, this sounds as if we want the framework to be finished at some point, and it has taken so terribly long to develop and is not yet finished. We don't want to make such an impression, as this is an ongoing project which already has finalized, usable versions, but it is also still being developed because we are continuously improving it and expanding it.

Is my interpretation correct, or am I just confused by some similar structure in some other language? And if it is correct, how can I change the wording (without making it significantly longer) so it reads just as the mentioning of the starting point of a process expected to continue for an indeterminable length of time in the future?

  • Let me guess: Is the writer's native language German?
    – Robusto
    Jan 28 '11 at 0:31
  • The present perfect continuous (or present perfect progressive) is used in the sentence I have been being loved (English Grammar, ISBN 0-06-467109-7, page 140), for example. In the framework has been developed the tense is the present perfect. developed, in that case, is an adjective.
    – apaderno
    Jan 28 '11 at 3:11
  • @Robusto: I was going to guess French! “Le système est en développement depuis environ huit ans,” or something?
    – PLL
    Jan 28 '11 at 3:58
  • @kiamlaluno Nice, I hadn't noticed that. I guess I wanted to use present perfect continuous because it seemed the right tense, but when formulating the sentence, the form "The framework has been being developed for eight years" just felt too wrong, so I unconsciously went for a version which sounded acceptable, not noticing that it is another tense.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 28 '11 at 12:33
  • 2
    @Robusto: you were halfway right. German is the language she uses the most, as we live and work in Germany. But her native language is Finnish (not mine, I don't speak a word of it, so hinterguessing her is hard sometimes). Believe me, the potential we multilinguals exhibit for amazingly creative language misconstructions is much greater than that of mere bilinguals. If you have never heard somebody combining a German idiom with Russian grammar when speaking English, you've missed some great gems.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 28 '11 at 12:43

Your interpretation is correct--the sentence as currently worded seems to imply that the framework is still unfinished. (However, your corrected version has the advantage of being grammatically correct, which the original wasn't.)

I might try a completely different rewording: Development of the framework has been ongoing for about eight years. If you need to be explicit about the fact that you've already released, you could add something like In this time there have been N stable public releases, which can be downloaded from http://example.com.

  • 2
    Thank you, it is good to know I was right to look for a rewording. We decided to settle on a simpler variant, "Development of the framework started eight years ago, with the first stable version delivered in 2004."
    – rumtscho
    Jan 28 '11 at 12:28

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