What do you think of the following sentence:
Since the moment I entered the work force, I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
I mean, wouldn’t the present perfect in the second clause work too (Since the moment I entered the work force, I have wanted to be an entrepreneur.)
What do you say?
TOEIC listening, photographs: Workers in a field[YSaerTTEW443543]
I think, Torsten, most Americans tend to use simple present, past tense instead of the perfect form.
Just my thoughts
Present perfect sounds fine and natural to me, Torsten, and I would choose it over simple present even if I were just chatting.
With “have” the sentence suggests that the speaker still hasn’t achieved the goal of becoming an entrepeneur. Without "have’ one doesn’t know if the goal has been achieved, but if I am forced to choose I will say that the goal has already been achieved.
“had wanted” also suggests that the goal has been achieved, or possibly abandoned.
If the person already is an entrepeneur, I would definitely use simple past tense.
Does anyone agree with me?
My reaction to the two sentences is basically the same as Canadian45’s:
If I heard someone use your original sentence, I’d probably assume that the person already IS an entrepreneur. However, if that were the case, I also think it would have been better to say “From the moment I entered the work force…”
If the present perfect were used in the sentence, I’d tend to assume that the speaker is not an entrepreneur yet, but wants to be.
I think the crucial point is that the verb ‘want’ by its very meaning indicates a period of continuing duration. By making the tense Present perfect you are simply emphasising that the ‘wanting’ has been going on for some time. As for the difference in meaning I would suggest: Since the moment … I wanted to be an entrepreneur indicates: And as you know I became one in the end. Or: Since the moment… I have wanted to be an entrepreneur indicates: And as you know this has now happened and now I am one.
I’m sure since 2006 English grammar has even further been murdered with the overuse of everyday bad grammar. I had to register just to add my two bits, because even native English speakers often kill the perfect tense and don’t have a clue as to how to use it correctly. “Since the moment I entered the work force, I have wanted to be an entrepreneur,” is correct use of the present perfect. The idea/ambition began in the past, and conitnues into the present; in this case, the achievement of working as an entrepreneur. “Since the moment I entered the work force, I had wanted to be an entrepreneur,” is correct use of the past perfect tense, and emphasizes that the desire/ambition has been realized/achieved/completed. The difficulty in understanding the perfect tense and all the nuanced ways to apply it, is due to the flexibility of the aspect of an action/or idea being completed at anytime up to the point of completion, to the present time.