Saturday, December 8, 2007

I Have Been

Sometimes, when I ask people what they do for a living, they say something like, "I am a nurse for three years now." If you've been reading my previous posts on perfect tenses, you will notice the error in this statement.

Let's analyze the statement further: the present tense of the verb, "am," means something that is true at this point in time or today. So if you say "I am a nurse," then it means that you're a nurse today (not tomorrow, not yesterday). Now, looking at the statement, the speaker is saying that she started being a nurse three years ago and she is still a nurse today. Since there's a progression from the past to the present, the perfect tense would be more appropriate.

Here's the corrected statement: "I have been a nurse for three years now." The perfect tense (have been) shows us that something started in the past and has continued into the present.

I have been a teacher for 10 years now.

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