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Alex80 Feb 6th, 2020 12:00 am

Since, for and how long
I found in a textbook that when (since,for& how long) come with an action verb, then we use the present perfect continuous. When the verb is stative, we use the present perfect simple. But I found in another page of the text these sentences:
1. 1.She hasn't eaten there since June.
2.He hasn't spoken to me since Christmas.
Q: Why are action verbs" eat & speak" used with since to refer to the present perfect simple? I mean Shouldn't we use the present perfect continuous? !!!

susan53 Feb 6th, 2020 06:53 am

Re: Since, for and how long
Hi Alex,

Forget that rule - it makes no sense. Both forms can be used with any type of verb. The present perfect tells us that the action or state connects both past and present so eg:
I've liked horses since I was a child. (stative verb expressing an action that has lasted from the past to the present)
I've answered twenty emails since I arrived(dynamic verb expressing some past actions which started in the past and have continued up to the present).

Continuous aspect tells us that the speaker/writer views the action as continuous but temporary. So the present perfect continuous tells us that the speaker is talking about something with past to present reference, but which s/he doesn't necessarily think is a permanent event. So eg:
I've been feeling ill for the last three days. (state)
I've been answering emails since 9 o'clock this morning. (action)
Obviously the speaker considers that sooner or later the illness will pass / there will be no more emails to answer and so chooses to present the situation as temporary.

Notice that I say "chooses to". The use of different verb forms always depends on the perception of the speaker. My favourite example of this is the following. I left England in the early 1980s and moved to Italy. After a while it was clear to me that the move was permanent and if I was talking about it, I would always say eg : I've lived in Italy for the last ten years . However, for my mother, it was very difficult to accept that I wouldn't be returning to live in the UK, and for years afterwards she would say Susan has been living in Italy for the last ten years. The event we were describing was the same, but psychologically I saw it as permanent while my mother went on hoping it was temporary. Hence the different choice of verb form.

For a more detailed explanation of aspect, have a look here, and for a critique of whether there really are such things as "stative" and "dynamic" verbs, see here.

Alex80 Feb 6th, 2020 10:23 pm

Re: Since, for and how long
Thank you so much for your explanation. So I can say:
1. She hasn't eaten/been eating there since July.
2.He hasn't spoken/ been speaking to me since Christmas.
It's about a permanent or temorary view. But a friend of mine told me that in sentence 2, 'hasn't spoken' means coincidental, but 'hasn't been speaking' means intentional. Is that correct?

susan53 Feb 7th, 2020 10:49 am

Re: Since, for and how long
The problem with these examples is that you haven't provided a context, so it's difficult to evaluate them. But I'd suggest that all contextualised examples can be explained by the distinction between continuous (or repeated) events vs single occurrence/permanent events

1a. She's turned vegan. She hasn't been eating plant based foods since July or She hasn't eaten plant based foods since July. (both continuous and expected to be permanent, so depends on speaker perception)
1b. Let's go to the Chinese restaurant. We haven't eaten there since July. (No single occurrence/ permanent during the stated period)

2b: She was very nervous before her presentation. She hasn't been speaking in public for very long. (continuous/temporary)
2b: I think I must have offended him. He hasn't spoken to me since July. (No single occurrence/permanent)

So both 1a and 2a can be considered "intentional" and either form can be used, while 1b and 2b are "co-incidental" and only the simple form is possible. But I don't think this is the most important distinction.

Have a look at this presentation on aspect. It may clarify things a little.

Alex80 Feb 7th, 2020 11:18 pm

Re: Since, for and how long
Thanks a bunch, friend.

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