1

A traditional explanation of Present Perfect usage is that it is not used when a certain past reference to the action is present either in the text or it is implied by the context.

Usually, the wrong usage examples given are like this one

I have been at the party yesterday. (incorrect)

Here's the example in question which I encountered in a book.

But it can take a long time for some people who have been hurt in the past to truly trust in the group.

The past indication is clearly present, although it is not a specific moment on the past timeline, still, it is a past reference. Since this is from an English book, I presume there are other instances when the past is implied. What if I change the verb and say something like

I have had depressions in the past. or I have been trained speed reading in the past.

Do they convey sensible meanings?

  • 1
    Hello, Pavel. If you mean "Are they acceptable?" the answer is (a) notwithstanding the unusual countification of 'depression', Yes . Collins labels the medical sense 'variable', which I'm almost certain means 'count and uncount usages licensed'. (b) This use of 'train' in a ditransitive construction (She trained me speed reading) looks unidiomatic to me. 'Train' is not in my list of ditransitive verbs. 'I have been trained in speed reading.' sounds better. 'In the past' is best omitted: it sounds a silly redundancy. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 13 at 13:56
  • 2
    @EdwinAshworth: in the past might be "redundant" in your example (not sure that's always the case, even with that specific utterance). But I don't think that applies to OP's people who have been hurt in the past. Present Perfect normally implies either or both of "recently", and "of current relevance", but in OP's context that first allusion is almost certainly unwanted. The main point of the utterance is to assert that the effects of being hurt can last a long time, which makes the "recently" element inappropriate. And in the past effectively erases that unwanted allusion. – FumbleFingers Jul 13 at 14:36
  • @FF That's why I made the comment under (not // after //) (b) and not under or before (a). – Edwin Ashworth Jul 13 at 14:46
  • Yes, my "train" usage is incorrect, sorry. – Pavel Rakitin Jul 14 at 20:08
  • I think I understand why in the sentence with being trained in speed reading in the past sounds silly, perhaps, because, actually, I want to say that I am still able to do some speed reading. So basically, the addition of in the past to the phrase in the book was aimed at showing that the effect of trauma still lasts even though the person was hurt in the past? And we deal here with a very specific case and verb usage (the book is indeed about people with early traumas). – Pavel Rakitin Jul 14 at 20:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.