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in the last two years Options
sb70012
Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2019 12:08:19 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/6/2013
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Do you have any information about Jack?
No. I have seen him twice in the last two years.
No. I saw him twice in the last two years.

self-made

Hello,

Grammar rules say:

Use the present perfect to talk about an indefinite time in the past.
Use the simple past tense to talk about a definite or specific time.

Now I don't know whether "last two years" is regarded as an "indefinite time in the past" or "specific time in the past". Accordingly I don't know which one of my sentences is right.

Any guidance?

Thank you.

Sorry if I don't thank you more than once. I don't want to bother you by filling up a thread with multiple thank yous.
BobShilling
Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2019 12:18:31 PM
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Location: Beroun, Stredocesky, Czech Republic
We very often use the present perfect for an action or actions that has/have taken place in a time periods beginning in the past and extending up to the present. 'In the past two years' is one such period. It began two years ago and extends up to the present.

'I have seen him twice', without any mention of time period, gives us the indefinite time(s) in the past.
'I saw him two years ago' gives us the definite time in the past.
Adyl Mouhei
Posted: Friday, August 9, 2019 4:07:43 AM

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Absolutely, what you need here is the present perfect.
BobShilling
Posted: Friday, August 9, 2019 4:16:37 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/1/2018
Posts: 1,420
Neurons: 7,616
Location: Beroun, Stredocesky, Czech Republic
I suspect that the past simple may be acceptable in AmE. We need an American to comment.
FounDit
Posted: Friday, August 9, 2019 12:04:17 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
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I think either one might be used and acceptable in AmE, but my impulse would be to inject one more word into such an answer:

Do you have any information about Jack?
No. I have (I've) only seen him twice in the last two years.
No. I only saw him twice in the last two years.

Saying it like that would indicate that I haven't seen him often enough to have gained any new information.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
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