Re: English perfect, Greek perfect

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Thu Jun 04 1998 - 13:59:02 EDT

At 09:15 AM 6/4/98 -0700, wrote:
>The English perfect seems to be more of a simple past tense, who's
>force is now expended and has become a part of the history of the
>'enactor' of the action. It may or may not have relevance to the
>present, whereas the Greek perfect very definitely has present
>relevance, due to its lack of augmentation. [If augmentation does
>indeed have past time implicature, as it certainly seems to have.]

I've heard this enough times, but I'm not convinced that it is true.
Suppose you ask me where my wife is, and I say "she has gone to the store,
and she's downstairs now", I think that's ungrammatical. If I say "she went
to the store, and she's downstairs now" it's perfectly grammatical (though
the detail about her going to the store may be irrelevant). I think that
the English perfect also implies a present state.
>Tricky wording here in English, because 'has' is present tense, and is
>describing 'what' he 'is having' in the present, even though the whole
>of the verb form has 'past' [perfect] force in English. 'Is' and
>'has' are both presents!! And the more I think about the English, the
>more interesting English gets! [And confusing, I might add]
We talk about past perfect ("had gone") and present perfect ("has gone") in
English. We can also talk about past perfect (="pluperfect") and present
perfect (="perfect") in Greek.

Texcel Research

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