A couple days ago I stumbled upon a sentence that I couldn't get my head around.

In the sentence:

I have read all of the author's books; Gregor gave me the first book of the series.

I know it sounds wrong if you say:

I have read all of the author's books; Gregor has given me the first book of the series.

but could someone please explain to me why the present perfect tense can't be used in the second sentence?

1 Answer 1


Note that the correct word is series, which is both the singular and plural.

I have read all of the author's books, Gregor has given me the first book of the serie.

In this case, the second sentence is illogical, because the tense is recent past, whereas you have already read the whole series. However it is grammatical, and would be commonly used in contexts where Gregor gave me the first book of the serie is not quite the tense that you wish to express.

  • 2
    Not quite. English doesn't have a tense for the recent past. The present perfect covers past time up to the present. The second use of the present perfect makes both events -- reading all the books and Gregor's gift -- coextensive. Reading all the books must have happened over an interval, but the gift would have been a one-time thing. That's a logical clash, made worse if you (reasonably) infer that he read the first book in the series first, making the events serial.
    – deadrat
    Dec 6, 2015 at 19:29
  • @deadrat: I am very aware that English doesn't have a formal recent past tense, however I was simply explaining the illogicality of the example sentence in terms that were reasonable. It is readily fixed if it is changed to: "Gregor had given me the first book in the series.", and they address the comma splice.
    – Cargill
    Dec 7, 2015 at 5:17
  • Then perhaps you should change your explanation from "the tense is recent past." to the time referred to by the present perfect tense is the recent past." I can understand only what you write. This suggested change doesn't affect my criticism, however. The present perfect covers the time interval from the indeterminate past up to the recent past. I'm not fond of the past perfect as a fix. That refers to time before a fixed point in the past. By the way, I am not the downvoter.
    – deadrat
    Dec 7, 2015 at 5:25

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