Phrase 'the court has appointed me your public defender'


Why does somebody consider at the beginning of a sentence a phrase like this one “the court has appointed me your public defender” with some effects on the present talking with someone and if i write in the same context why have i to say for example a sentence like this “i broke up with my girlfriend” with the simple past … i’m talking about american english.


Hello Luca-- welcome to

Either present perfect or past can be used in both of your example sentences:

The court appointed / has appointed me your public defender.
I broke up /have broken up with my girlfriend

The present perfect, as you said, connects with NOW in some way. In the first example, it suggests that the speaker is NOW ready to defend the listener; in the second example, it suggests that the speaker is NOW sad and lonely.

Simple past in both sentences simply state the finished occurrence of the past event: the court made the appointment; I left my girlfriend.

It is the speaker’s choice as to which verb form s/he will use, though the choice is often made subconsciously and depends on the speaker’s interior thoughts or images of the incident.

thanks…but in the two sentence what would have you used?in the first on and in the second one

another question when an action has an effect on the present the effect have to be for the one which talks
or for the one that listen?

Hi luca,

You have raised some interesting points. Now, the reason I used (past simple because that refers to the previous sentence) the present perfect is that I am linking your comments/points with the recent past but I am not referring to a specific point in the past. I could also say: You rased some interesting points in your posting simply because that posting is now in the past and the time at the top of your posting is before the time I am writing this. As to the present effect and its relationship to speaker or listener, that is not relevant. The speaker/writer is paramount because that person knows what sort of tense they want to use and whether they want to refer to something in the past or in the recent past - in other words whether or not they want to be specific.

Just some thoughts,


could you explain it better? :smiley:
and could you say what time would have you used?

what would you be most likely to say in the two sentences? :?:

Hi Alan and Mr. M (By the way, nice picture, MM! ;))

Could one or both of you post a couple of examples for Luca? Luca has already received quite a bit of input from me (before this post) and seems to need additional points of view.

Conchita? Jamie? Maybe you also have some ideas that would illustrate the usage?


One thing that you need to try to finally understand is this:

One sentence often/usually isn’t enough for people to be able to tell you with 100% certainty whether they would use the simple past tense or the present perfect. It often depends on the whole situation or context as well as the person’s particular point of view.

You have not given us any context at all!


Honesty. Luca, I could use either form in both of your sentences, depending on, as Amy says, context. There is no way to make a judgment on appropriateness without the context which the speaker finds or creates:

The court appointed me your public defender yesterday – Here, mention of a specific past time legislates for simple past.

The court has just appointed me your public defender, so let’s get to work on your case.-- Here, the adverb just and the dependent clause both link the event closely to the present.

I broke up with my girlfriend, so I couldn’t meet you as we had planned. – context shows that the breakup is thought of as a past completed action that affected only the past (a rendezvous).

I have broken up with my girlfriend, so I won’t be double-dating with you for a while. – context shows that the breakup is thought of as a condition which affects the present and future.

As you can see, only the situation can determine the ‘correctness/appropriateness/naturalness’ of use-- as is true with most language.

(PS: Glad you like the photo, Yank, but it may be short-lived.)

yes i like your photo it is expressive

here another example:
(i saw this in an american film)
a boy comes to a gilrl
she says him:have an happy valentines day with your girlfriend
he says her:no, actually i broke up with her
why do you think he used the simple past even if the time has consequences on the present because now his valentines day is ruined
is my thinking right or wrong…what is the time you woulkd have used in this case :?:

Hi luca,

An explanation as to why the boy uses the past simple (I broke up with her) is because this event to him happened a long time ago. He is suggesting: Didn’t you hear about that?

If he said: I have broken up with her, it is fresh in his mind. He is then suggesting: Haven’t you heard about that?


but doesn’t it have effects on the present

is it right?

Luca, do not confuse grammar use with external reality. The real situation-- in your view or mine-- is irrelevant. Grammar use is only decided by what is in the mind of the speaker, and often in his/her subconscious mind.

We must accept that the boy chose simple past and then, as Alan did, we can only offer a possible rationale for that choice.

but what is the time you would have used in that situation?

Hi Luca

Now I’ve got a question for you: What tense is the first sentence?

she says him:have an happy valentines day with your girlfriend
he says her:no, actually i broke up with her.

The first sentence sounds like a question with the words “Did you” left out (those two words are understood):

Q: “Did you have a happy Valentines Day with your girlfriend?

That question is not only the simple past tense, but also specifically mentions the past time (Valentine’s Day).

The answer then seems to indicate that he didn’t have fun on Valentine’s Day because on Valentine’s Day he broke up with her. So, the only possible tense for the answer (in both British AND American English!) is the simple past tense

A: No, actually I broke up with her.

(“No, I didn’t have a happy Valentine’s Day because we broke up on Valentine’s Day.”)


i wanted to say that when the boy talks valentine’s day isn’t over.

Sorry, Luca. I don’t understand what you want to say.

You can use my last post as an example of when you must use the simple past tense.


i wanted to say that when the boy talks, valentine’s day isn’t over.