LINGUIST List 10.1237

Mon Aug 23 1999

Sum: Present Perfect

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <>


  1. YANAGI Tomohiro, [Summary] Present perfect

Message 1: [Summary] Present perfect

Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 13:07:25 +0900 (JST)
From: YANAGI Tomohiro <>
Subject: [Summary] Present perfect

Dear linguists,

I posted the following questions several months ago. I received answers
and useful comments and encouragement from members of LINGUIST, who are
listed below. I am grateful to them.

1. Whether definite-past-time adverbs can be used in present perfects with
BE-cognates (_sein_/_etre_).
2. How about Scandinavian languages, and other Germanic and Romance
3. Whether present perfect forms and simple past forms are freely
interchangeable in languages where the adverbs can be used in present

1. The answer is YES. Auxiliary selection is not sensitive to the
availability of the definite-past-time adverbs in present perfects.

2. In Scandinavian (and Spanish), the adverbs cannot be used in present
perfects. In Dutch, French and Italian, by contrast, the adverbs are
compatible with present perfects. As pointed out by a few persons,
however, the term 'present perfect' is misleading, and 'passe composite'
should be used for the construction of Romance languages in question. This
indicates that the form 'auxiliary + past participle' in French and Italian
is in nature a past form. In addition, the same combination in Finnish (in
which only BE is used) is compatible to the adverbs, with an aspectual
implication, but it is more common to use the adverbs in the Past form (in
Finnish the Imperfect).

3. The answer is NO. Simple past and present perfect forms are not
generally interchangeable, but there is some dialectual variation within a
language. For example, the simple past is preferred to the present
perfect in Northern dialect of Italian while the reverse happens in
Southern dialects.

In addition, these books were recommended by some for more information:

Dahl, Oesten (1985) _Tense and Aspect Systems_. Blackwell, Oxford.
Dahl, Oesten (ed.) (to appear) _Tense and Aspect in the Languages of
Europe_. Mouton de Gruyter.
Giorgi, Alessandra and Fabio Pianesi (1997) _Tense and Aspect: From
Semantics to Morphosyntax_. OUP, Oxford.

The following is those who answered my questions or provided me with
comments/suggestions. I would like to thank them again.

Martin J. Kuemmel
Keith Battarbee
Ann Lindvall
Dieter Vermandere
Claus Dieter Pusch
Bettina Spreng
Richard Laurent
Mihaela Pirvulescu
Pier Marco Bertinetto
Fernando Bermudez (and his wife)
Vincent Jenkins
Kristine Bentzen
Elisabet Eir Cortes (and her colleagues)
Rosa J. Garcia
Rami Gideon
Pianesi Fabio
Remy Viredaz
van Noppen Jean-Pierre
Makhad Hassan
Sean McLennan
Hiroko Koga

I'm still working on the same topic and any further comment will be welcome.
Thank you.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue