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英語時態閒談之五
撰文者: Wayne 發表日期: June 13, 2011 – 3:41 am

版主今天要再度討論英文時態。網友可能會覺得《天地無用》真是雞婆,沒事找事做,老是要講解英文時態。其實,版主之所以不厭其煩地說明時態,無非是想糾正許多積非成是的觀念,讓有心的網友可以寫出道地的英文文章。

版主今天講題的點子來自於版主前些日子無意中讀到文法論戰。兩個老美為了英文時態一來一往,爭得面紅耳赤。進入正題之前,先請網友看看他們的爭辯內容:

文法論戰:Present Perfect: In terms of “meaning”

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為了節省時間,版主將重要的內容節錄出來供網友參考:

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引發爭論的網友提問問題:

Please see the following dialog.
A: I’d like to know more about you.
B:
(1) I worked in the insurace industry for over ten years.
(2) I have been working in the insurance industry for over then years.
(3) I’ve worked in the insurance industry for over ten years.

Here’s my questions.
———————————————
1. I think three anwers could be in the above context. Right?
2. IMBO, (1) sounds like B are not working in the insurance industry and (2) sounds like B are working in the insurance industry. Right?
3. Actually, (3) is a little bit treaky to me. I guess (3) could be both. That is,
(3.1) I’ve worked in the insurance industry for oever ten years, but not now.
(3.2) I’ve worked in the insurance industry for oever ten years, and I’m currently working now.

What do you think?

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以下為爭論內容

Frank (英文教師):

translation

I worked in the insurance industry for over ten years.

Past simple: you no longer work in the insurance industry.

I have been working in the insurance industry for over ten years.

Present perfect continuous: This suggests you have recently stopped working in the insurance industry.

I’ve worked in the insurance industry for over ten years.

Present perfect: You continue to work in the insurance industry.

translationWe use the present perfect continuous to refer to an activity which took place over a period of time and, usually, has recently stopped.

You telephone has been ringing. (It has now stopped)

It has been raining. (It is not raining now)
I have lived in Spain since I met my wife. This is the present perfect and suggests to me that you are still living in Spain now.

With all rules there are grey areas and sometimes different interpretations can be put on a sentence. I am giving you my view as a native speaker of many years and have given other examples to explain my reason for that interpretation.

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RiverKid (英文教師) 回應:

translationWe use the present perfect continuous to refer to an activity which took place over a period of time and, usually, has recently stopped.

Hi Frank. Both the present perfect and the present perfect continuous can describe actions which are over/finished or actions which continue into the present.

Your telephone has been ringing. (It has now stopped)

Here, I’d say it’s being used to illustrate that many people have been phoning. Of course, a telephone never rings continuously for hours on end. No one would let one call just keep on ringing for hours.

The idea inherent in what the speaker is saying is, “Wait a minute or so and it’ll probably ring again”.

It has been raining(It is not raining now)

As a stand alone, it may well lead the listener to think that it has stopped. But just because it could doesn’t mean it always has to.

It has been raining for hours/days.

I have lived in Spain since I met my wife. This is the present perfect and suggests to me that you are still living in Spain now.

But, “I have lived in Spain”, the PP of experience, can also show a finished situation, one where the speaker no longer lives in Spain, can it not?

With all rules there are grey areas and sometimes different interpretations can be put on a sentence. I am giving you my view as a native speaker of many years and have given other examples to explain my reason for that interpretation.

There are indeed gray areas. Context is very very very important to determining structure choice.

translation

A: I’d like to know more about you.
B: (1) I worked in the insurance industry for over ten years.
(2) I have been working in the insurance industry for over ten years.
(3) I’ve worked in the insurance industry for over ten years.

Here’s my questions.
———————————————
1. I think three answers could be used in the above context. Right?

Right, Soleiljy.

2. IMBO, (1) sounds like B [are] is not working in the insurance industry and (2) sounds like B is [are] working in the insurance industry. Right?

That would generally be the understanding given what was said. But the present perfect continuous structure could be used when the action is finished.

I have been working in the insurance industry until recently.

[it’s still afternoon, the report is finished and your colleague says to you]

“I’ve been working on this report all afternoon.”

What the present perfect continuous describes is the current relevance of this “arduous task”/ the recent completion of this task

3. Actually, (3) is a little bit [treaky] tricky to me. I guess (3) could be both. That is,
(3.1) I’ve worked in the insurance industry for over ten years, but not now.
(3.2) I’ve worked in the insurance industry for over ten years, and I’m currently working now.

What do you think?

Once again, you’re right, S. ESLs have to learn to distinguish between the different kinds of present perfect. In this case it could be an experential PP [a PP of experience], a continuative PP or even possibly a PP of current relevance. For example, the person is trying to get a new job with another insurance company and even though they are not currently working, they relate that this past action, “working in the insurance industry” has a relevance that is important to now.

All too often, grammar books give isolated examples that trick even native speakers.

In a real life situation, the context usually clues us in to what is meant. If not, we simply ask for clarification. “Are you still in the insurance industry?”

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(版主講解)

translation

英文現在完成式」主要用來表達「累計、持續、過去發生但影響能及於目前的事件」

◎ Up to the present, some two hundred people have been killed in the conflict.
(目前為止,大約有兩百人已經在這場衝突中喪生。)

◎ I have been a Jazz fan since my school days.
(我從學生時代就一直是個爵士樂迷。)

◎ We’ve come up with a plan. (我們已經想出一套計畫。)

translation

英文「現在完成進行式」表「過去持續到現在的動作/動作剛剛完成,但影響持續到現在」

◎ Astronomers believe that the universe has been expanding ever since the beginning of time.
(天文學家認為,宇宙從太初以來就不斷膨脹。)

◎ “You look hot.” “I’ve been running.”
(你看起來好像很熱。/ 是啊,我剛跑完步 。)

第一個老美 (Frank) 的文法概念很薄弱,上這種老師的課可能會誤入歧途,愈學愈回去。因此,不是老美講解的概念就一定正確,有些老美就只靠天生的母語語感混飯吃。美國有很多英文文章寫得狗屁不通的大學生,來到亞洲就憑藉著一張老外面孔騙吃騙喝敎英文。網友學習英文時一定要養成獨立判斷的能力,才不會被人牽著鼻子走,走到死胡同都還不知道。

版主請網友詳細閱讀 Riverkid 的講解內容 (尤其是以顏色強調的部分),試著去從美國人的觀念來體會正確的文意。其實,無論「現在完成式」或「現在完成進行式」都可以表達「已經完成」或者「過去發生,但結果持續到現在」的概念,詳細內容要依照上下文來判斷,這是屬於時態中比較難以掌控的地方。

網友如有興趣,可參照版主先前的時態貼文。

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◎ 英文「現在完成式」的使用時機 (1)

** 現在完成式指『過去的事件』**
英美人士在某些情況下會將現在完成式用於過去。

◎ I went to this conference in Toronto last fall. I have never been so exhausted in my life.  48 straight hours of partying, drinking, drugs, papers, and lectures.
(我去年秋天參加一場多倫多的會議。我這輩從沒這麼累過,48 小時不停參加聚會、喝酒、喀藥、發表論文,以及聽演講。) – 電影《證明我愛你》(Proof)

◎ Dozens of my books were purchased with money which ought to have been spent upon what are called necessaries of life. Many a time I have stood before a stall, or a bookseller’s window, torn by conflict of intellectual desire and bodily need.
我購買的多數書籍,所用之款原本應用於所謂的生活必需品。我曾多次駐足在書攤或者書店的櫥窗前面,心智渴望與肉體需求在內心交戰。

版主另外要強調,文法只是歸納的習慣用法,絕對不應該凌駕於語言邏輯之上。理解英文時態時請多加思考,勤於背訟正確例句及詳查資料,以免誤用時態。希望本篇解說能幫助大家提升英文實力。

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