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When to use “has lived” vs. “lived” vs. “had lived”

I’m having trouble understanding this sentence:

I have lived here for three years (I still live here.)

I know that this sentence means that somebody still lives there, but can this also mean that that person doesn't live there anymore?

I’m asking because I noticed that without “for three years”, “my whole life”, etc the action seems to be complete; for example, “I have lived there”, meaning that the person doesn't live there anymore.

But with “for three years”, “my whole life”, or something similar, it is not clear whether the person is still living there or not. They may or may not be living there.

Is it really so?


Usually, if I don't still live here, I would say "I lived here for three years" (simple past). The perfect tense generally denotes a state that's still continuing.

  • 'I have lived there' would also mean that I don't live there, wouldn't it? – Monica May 15 '12 at 11:35
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    @Monica, If you are trying to say you no longer live "there," you would still say "I lived there." Saying "I have lived there," even without the time added ("for three years" or "my whole life") can imply that you still live there. – JLG May 15 '12 at 11:46
  • But when I wrote this sentence; 'I have lived in Los Angeles' and said that it means 'the person doesn't live there anymore' and that it's a finished action it doesn't imply that it is still in progress native speakers agreed with me. – Monica May 15 '12 at 11:52
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    Firstly, for me I have lived there all my life can mean only that I am still living there, not that it is unclear whether I still live there or not. As to I have driven my car, this means that I am not sitting in it now, driving it. I must say, however, that it is an odd statement to come out with spontaneously, although it is possible in answer to the question: What have you done today? - I have driven my car, cut the grass, painted the fence, etc. And it is possible as an unprompted utterance when qualified, as in I've driven my car 5 times today. – Shoe May 15 '12 at 19:56
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    As to I have driven my car for ages/for three years, for me this can mean only that you still have the car and drive it, although you are not necessarily sitting in the car now. Similarly, They have been married, while odd as a spontaneous utterance by itself, means they are no longer married, whereas They have been married for 6 years can mean only that they are still married. – Shoe May 15 '12 at 19:56

If you wanted to speak about a time that was finished - you could say I had lived there for 3 years before moving...

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