Re: English perfect, Greek perfect

From: Paul R. Zellmer (
Date: Thu Jun 04 1998 - 19:31:00 EDT

Jonathan Robie wrote:
> 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.


I think your implication of present state is strengthened by changing
your context a bit. If, instead of asking where your wife is (although
I assume she's in Durham with the kids), one were to ask, "Has your wife
gone to the store?", your "ungrammatical" response become grammatically
correct. It is because you are confirming that the going to the store
is in a state of completion at present, even though she is no longer

I concur with your analysis given in other postings that the same force
seems to be carried by the Koine perfect. Of course, my concurrence
doesn't carry much weight!


Paul and Dee Zellmer, Jimmy Guingab, Geoffrey Beltran
Ibanag Translation Project
Cabagan, Philippines

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