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Reporting Source and Emotional Impact

Focusing on past activity (not timing)

jeans
Where did you get those jeans?
 

 

Reporting Source vs. Duration

PAST – SOURCE / INFORMATION

We use past tense to focus on  who, what, where, why, how or the origin of something.  The activity is the focus and not its timing or duration (aspect).

Where did you get those jeans?

I got them at the Gap.

Where did you go?

I went shopping. (seeking information)

What did you buy?

I bought some jeans.

What are they made of?
 

They are made of denim.

PRESENT PERFECT – DURATION / RECENCY

We use present perfect to focus on an aspect of time: the duration or the recency of the activity.  (for the past few hours, recently, so far)

What brands have you worn?

I've worn Levi's and Gap. (so far)

Where have you been?

We have been shopping. (for the past few hours)

What have you bought?

I've just bought some new shoes. (recently)

What have they been made of? (jeans)

They have been made from cotton over the past one hundred years.

 

recency (n.) – being recent
seek (v.) – asking for

 

 

 

 

Emotional Impact

Responding With an Emotional Outburst

Hip Hop dancer doing flip
 

 

Emotional Response vs. Experience

PAST

Use the past tense for an emotional response, in which it is more urgent to tell what happened than how long or how many times. 

Wow! Look at him. ! He just did a back flip. (amazement)

Mom!  Johnny hit me.  (outrage)

His car ran into the back of mine!  (shock)

PRESENT PERFECT

Use the present perfect tense when relating the importance of time: how long, how many times.  (duration and repetition of activity)

He has done a back flip. (indefinite past)
(previous or recent experience; perhaps, said to a gym coach with a checklist)

Johnny has hit me.  (indefinite past)
(previous or recent experience; perhaps, said to a judge in a divorce court)

*His car has run  into the back of mine.
(unlikely to be used as either previous or recent experience - incorrect)

 

outburst – a sudden release

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERRORS

Where did you go on vacation?    *We have been to the beach this summer.

Where did you get that?   *I have bought it at the bakery.

SOLUTIONS

We went to the beach this summer.  (focus is on activity)

We have been to the beach recently. (focus is a recent time)

We have been vacationing at the beach this summer. (focus is time – ongoing)

(If we are still at the beach, use present perfect progressive with "this summer". If we are talking about a recently completed trip, use past tense, or use present perfect with the adverb "recently".)

I bought it at the bakery.  (Emphasis on where.  Use past tense for reporting source or origin.)

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 Solution - lightbulb    Pop-Q – "Source"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Past Tense vs. Present Perfect

 

 

 

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

1.
A man looking at a birdLook at that bird! 

2.

3.
present

4.
reindeer sweater

5.
cat

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.