Is it somehow possible to combine the present perfect and a reference to duration within one single clause, using the present perfect to refer to a past event or situation that took place at some indefinite point in the past?

For instance, I'd like to say that at some point in my life (but the date isn't important), I've worked in the automotive industry and add that that experience lasted 3 years. Logically I'd end up saying "I've worked in the automotive industry for 3 years" but I don't know whether that's correct. If the sentence is possible in that specific case, then the context is important and has to enhance the fact it's not an experience that started in the past and is going on now.

Some people have told me that in a conversation, several questions would be asked: "Have you ever worked in the automotive industry?" "Yes, I have." "How long did you work in that field?" "It lasted 3 years."

So I assumed it wasn't possible to say all the information within one clause and refer to a past, undated experience that lasted 3 years in a sentence like "I've worked in the automotive industry for 3 years". Do you agree with that?

Thank you for your help.

2 Answers 2


Not real sure what you're asking. If you want to say that during some 3-year period in the past you worked in the automotive industry, then just say that: I worked in the automotive industry for 3 years.

That's perfectly clear: The action was started and completed in the past. And its duration was 3 years. (It is not specified whether that was one 3-year block of time of multiple smaller stretches that add up to 3 years.)

You don't want to say, as you said, I have worked in the industry for 3 years. (But you can say that you have 3 years experience working in the industry, or that you have worked in the industry.)


It is possible to say it all in one sentence.

  1. I have acquired three years of experience working in the automotive industry.
  2. I possess three years of experience working in the automotive industry.
  3. I possess the experience of having worked three years in the automotive industry.

Option 1 would project that you have recently acquired the experience.

Option 2 does not say that is what you did within the last three years, except that you did a acquire three years of experience, without specifying when that three years were.

Option 3 says exactly what option 2 says, but projecting the impression that you are taking special effort to distance yourself from that experience, such that you did do it but it was not too recent for you to remember the details.

Therefore, option 2 is your best choice.

However, there are instances where you need to flaunt an experience, which is an added bonus, but you wish to avoid giving the impression that was what you mainly did and therefore actually had no opportunity to acquire other skills. For that, option 3 is the best.

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