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I was unable to find out the rules here and what is the difference:

As yet, he has not received the package.
As yet little was known of the causes of the disease.

2 Answers 2

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In the first, as yet means ‘up until this time’. In the second, it means ‘up until that time’.

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  • That is strange :( I thought that "as yet" means "until now". Shouldnt it be like "until then" in the second sentence?
    – Pietro
    Jun 4, 2012 at 7:43
  • @Pietro: Yes. As yet = until now/then = until this/that time. Jun 4, 2012 at 7:55
  • This isn't the reason for the presence/absence of the perfect aspect. Present: "As yet, little is known of the cause of the disease." "As yet, he has not received the package." Past: "As yet, little was known of the cause of the disease." "As yet, he had not received the package." There are four possible choices here. Jun 4, 2012 at 23:05
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Yet is a Negative Polarity Item (NPI), and that means that it -- and constructions that it's in like as yet -- can only occur grammatically within the scope or a Negative Trigger construction.

That in turn means that in the two example sentences given:

  • As yet, he has not received the package.
  • As yet little was known of the causes of the disease.

it is the negative triggers (respectively, not and little) that license the use of yet.

We can easily see this from the fact that affirmative variations are ungrammatical:

  • *As yet, he has received the package.
  • *As yet much was known of the causes of the disease.

Executive Summary: What a word -- especially a little word -- is supposed to mean has little to do with its syntax. Dictionaries are for words in isolation; grammars are for words in sentences.

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