Have married and Have been married

Hi teachers :smiley:

I’ve got one more question for you.
What is the difference between
He has married four times. and

[color=blue]He has been married four times.

Thanks for your help.


Jupiter, there is not very much difference between the two. “He has married four times,” means that he has gone through four marriage ceremonies. We assume he lived with the woman after that, but we can’t be sure. It’s possible he married women as a business deal to bring them into the United States or to some other country, but he never lived with them. It’s also possible he’s had four weddings but had them all annulled.

When we hear, “He has been married four times,” it could mean the same thing as the other sentence, but it also sounds as if he’s been in four marriages and actually lived with the woman as her husband.

I have a friend who married a man and just hours after the wedding realized it was a horrible mistake and that he was a terrible man. She was so afraid to stay with him that she left him hours later and tried to have the marriage annulled, but in her province that must be done within 24 hours. The law in her province required her to wait two years before divorcing. However, she never lived with the man and never saw him after the wedding day. So she has married once, but it would be hard for us to say she has been married at all.

Both sentences mean the same thing to me. I think people just say things in different ways but they mean the same thing. You may say either of the two, depending on which you are comfortable with.

Sure,Jamie’s point of view is the most right!

Pamela, I think you mean point of view.

Hi Jamie,
Shouldn’t have You written:
I think you meant…
Instead of “I think you mean”?
Or both good?
Or only the one you wrote?

Spencer, I could have chosen either the simple present or the simple past tense for that statement. It all depends on my point of view.

If I had thought of Pamela’s statement as something complete and finished, I would have used the simple past and said “meant”.

However, I thought of it as a statement that was still current, in a conversation that was still going on, so I used the simple present and said “mean”.

Sorry,Jamie.Of course I meant point of view!It was just a misprint :oops:

Hi Michael,

Relax. I’m sure your grammar books are fine. Imagine if you like that the forum is a conversation in print. People ask questions, receive answers and sometimes they don’t understand the answer and so they ask another question like: What do you mean when you say **** ?

The answer could be: I mean **** when I say ***

All this is conducted in the Present Simple form to show that the opinions/answers/replies are not related to one specific time but exist all the time. Another example of timelessness is when you quote from a writer as in: Shakespeare says in his play Macbeth *****.

Does this help?


Thanks Alan for giving me that input! I?ll try to relax. :lol:

As I?m a German and a Technician too I often have to consider rules. :lol: Sometimes I seem to exaggarate that. :shock:

Have you ever seen a movie which title in English might be “Bold guys with flying jaloppies”? You suggested me to be the German officer. :shock: :lol:

What I understood in your post is that a conversation not nessecarily has to follow close to the rules of my grammar book. Is that right?



I’m sure the rules also talk about this use of the Present Simple. Have a look at some material I’ve written for the site on the Present Simple:



Sorry, Alan, for coming up with this theme again! I understand your explanation about opinions/answers/replies that are not related to one specific time but exist all the time. They will be expressed in the Present Simple form. As you have written:

The answer could be: I mean****when I say*****

I have thought that the same is related to Jamie?s sentence:

“I think you mean point of view.”

Is it possible to write, speak or mention this sentence in the Past Simple Form with this wording without mention any point of time? Even like this way:

“I think you ?meant? point of view”?

Please don?t feel beared! I really can?t find out the answer!


Hey Blood Brother :slight_smile:
You did the right thing!
I’m proud of us! :slight_smile:
As far as I understand Your explanation You must be right.
Still , I’ve seen a movie when a high class lady (Hi Jamie :slight_smile: ) said something like: I meant her.
She was asking about a woman, but they got her wrong, so she corrected them like: I meant her (not that other person)
If I had to figure out why, I’d say because at that very moment she was talking about her previous sentence.
She could’ve said: I WAS talking about her.
I don’t think anyone will understand my highly educated explanation but me, but I have to admit, it’s not really clear to myself either.
I was kidding,and probably wrong as well :slight_smile:

Hi you two blood brothers :smiley:

It’s good to see that you’ve both got your thinking caps on. :smiley:

Shall I give you my opinion?

The simple past tense (… meant … when you said …) would probably be the most logical here because the sentence was finished and written in the past.

But, because this is a current conversation, you could also use the format that Alan and Jamie both mentioned (… mean … when you say…)

Most grammar books don’t have all of the rules. Most of them have the rules you need most often. Also, it depends on the level of the grammar book (i.e. “beginner”, “intermediate”, “advanced”, etc.)

Hi Michael
Do you mean/Did you mean “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” ? :wink:


Hi Spencer!

I think you?re perfectly right with your highly educated explanation. 8) If you regard to a previous conversation or sentence it might be absolutely correct to say ?you meant?.
It was my simple German character which made me asking: what are the rules. Do you remember my advice to the movie “Bold guys with flying jaloppies”? It is a comedy about a flight race at the beginning of th 19th century. The race was driven by an English newspaper and flight-pioneers from all over the world took place at it. One from every industrial nation and everyone of them showed the character of his nation. As it was an American movie you might guess who won the race. :wink:
However, the German flight team was a military group with an officer as header. He always had a military order book in his hand without which he seemed to be unable to use the toilette. Because the German pilot “Rumpelstolz” became ill the officer decided to fly himself and bring the HONOUR to his German Excellency. During the race he lost his order book and crashed down into the Channel of course.
As funny as it is it charactered the German mentality a bit. And that happens to me time by time. If I can?t imagine how anything works I run around like a chicken yelling for help: “Where are the rules? Where are the rules?” :lol:

See you later!


Hi Michael and Spencer,

Both tenses are fine but let’s put grammar and rules to one side and look for a moment at an example, which I always find easier to explain a language point with. A group of people are talking and one person says something which is controversial/shocking/unusual or whatever. This remark prompts one of the group to ask for an explanation: they could say: What did you mean by that? Now this is a perfectly calm question and is also a little remote but the person is simply wanting to know why the remark was made. On the other hand they could say: What do you mean by that? Now this is a similar request for information but the tone is more immediate more dramatic and the suggestion behind it is that the questioner wants an answer here and now.

Well, I’ve tried to explain and hope things are a little clearer.


Hi Amy!

You are faster than the German police allows! :lol:

Nice discription of what, at least I, try to do! If I particular mention the try! :lol:

I always like your opinion!

I think I?ve got problems because Jamie allowed himself to omit the subordinate sentence beginning with when*****. If that is usual I must have a better look at the senses of sentences like that.

I myself use the Cornelsen English Grammar book declared as the “Big Edition”. Do you know it?

Amy, I think that?s it. If you have a look at me prevecious reply I think you can tell me if we mean the same movie.

By the way, did you have a look at the contract that Spencer and I have made? What?s your opinion about that?


I understood you, and your explanation was right. She would say, “I meant her,” when talking about her previous sentence, but she could say, “I mean her,” if she’s describing her current mental state. It’s the same thing, but with a different perspective.

Hi You all!

Thank you for all the very interesting posts at this topic! You gave me a really comprehensive impression about rules and usage of the Present Tense and the Past Tense.
Particularly Alan?s latest reply refered to a special usage of the Tenses which I never would have found in my grammar book.
Perhaps -having a look to the view-list- it could be helpful for some other English learners too.
For me, for the moment, is only left to thank you again for all the patience you showed at this topic.

I enjoy towards the next discussion that you allow me to have with you.