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Do you ever say "The game already began"?

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
I have a question.

I know that you say "The game has already begun." But do you ever say "The game already began"?
If you say it, what's the difference in usage between them?

How about "I visited New York once before"? Sould we say "I've visited New York once before" instead?

Hirashin
 

Lothor

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Hi Hirashin,

I don't like 'The game already began' because I can only imagine it being spoken when a game is in progress, so you have the nuance of the present (the game is currently going on) and the past (the game started earlier), so present perfect is best.

With "I visited New York once before", I think the past simple is OK because it's clearly an action that has finished.
I think the present perfect is also OK because there is also the nuance that in my life up to now (both past and present) I have previously visited New York once.
 

hirashin

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Thank you for the help, Lothor. I appreciate it.
 

hirashin

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I'd also like to know what American or Canadian people think about this sentence. Do you agree with Lothor's view?
 

bentenmusume

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I'm a native speaker of American English.

While I agree with Lothor that the present perfect is technically more correct and preferred for the first sentence, I can guarantee that I've heard American English speakers say "The game already started" and the like, especially in casual, rough speech. (e.g. to someone who's still in the kitchen cooking something: "Are you coming? The game started already!")

As for whether or not to accept this as an answer from a student, if it were me, I'd probably only mark it wrong if I were specifically teaching a lesson about the present perfect. If it was a general writing assignment, I might make a note of it, but would be hard-pressed to call it "incorrect" since many native speakers would say it and it hardly jumps out as jarringly ungrammatical.

(Also, for what it's worth, in casual, spoken language this would almost certainly be "The game's already begun." or "The game's already started." Spelling out or enunciating the "has" would occur primarily in written language or formal speech.)

I agree with Lothor about the second sentence: both seem equally acceptable, depending on whether the focus is on the past action or the experience.
 

Michael2

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Funnily, as an Englishman, I can agree with the explanations for the first example even though I would personally always say "The game has already started," but I have a problem with the second example being acceptable because by saying you have been to New York once before you are specifically talking about a previous experience, not simply relating a past action. If you were purely talking about what you did on holiday you could say "I went to Boston and/then I went to New York," but if you were saying you had been to New York on a previous trip you would use the structure I have just used, "I had been to New York,". Alternatively you could just be talking in the present and say "I went to/visited New York once," without using before. Before what?
 

hirashin

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Thank you for the help, bentenmusume, (Are you female?) and Michael2. It seems that there is a little difference about this usage between American and British English.
 

bentenmusume

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It seems that there is a little difference about this usage between American and British English.
Again, I'd just like to point out for the record that I agree with both Lothor and Michael2 in terms of which is technically correct. I have heard in the past as well, though, that American English can be a bit more free about this disctinction when it comes to casual speech.

Thank you for the help, bentenmusume, (Are you female?)
No, I'm not. 辨天娘 is a type of 日本酒 that I enjoy:

As it says in my profile, I used to go by jt_ (my initials), but I asked Thomas (the administrator) to change my username. I realize that it's a bit confusing in terms of gender, but I'm not particularly concerned about that.
 

hirashin

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Oh, sorry. Bentenmusume is a name for Japanese sake wine. I see.
 

weiji2001

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Both forms are essentially the same in most contexts. It's really an academic argument over the differences. Best to choose the one you feel comfortable saying.
 

johnnyG

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I don't like 'The game already began' because I can only imagine it being spoken when a game is in progress, so you have the nuance of the present (the game is currently going on) and the past (the game started earlier), so present perfect is best. ...

I've looked at this thread a time or two, and early on agreed with @Lothor here. But I couldn't explain why. Later, @Michael2 presents a similar example using 'started': "The game has already started."

For me, that second example sounds fine without 'has", so take a look at the pair:

a) The game already began.
b) The game already started.

Again, I agree with what Lothar said about (a). But then (b) sounds fine to me in a way that (a) does not.

My conclusion/suspicion is that the 'problem' with (a) concerns the verb "begin"--something about it creates that discomfort so that (a)--tho apparently correct grammatically--just doesn't feel quite right when used as in the initial question/OP.

OTOH, 'start' seems okay--(b) seems fine, and easily usable, in a way that (a) does not.

Sorry, I have not been able to clarify to myself why these two verbs differ--why 'begin' seems to need past perfect, while 'start' does not. Maybe someone else can help with that?
 

Deibiddo

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I just finished a master's in applied linguistics and I can categorically state it doesn't make a difference. All of the examples are 'correct' in their own way. What most people think of as the 'correct' way should really be referred to as the 'standard dialect' and is the most commonly accepted form. British and Americans speak what is 'wrong' English to speakers of another dialect but yet there are also some people who think it's right. Even within British and American English there are multiple dialects that 'wrong' to some people who speak a different dialect. So, there are other dialects than the 'standard' one and in linguistics they are referred to as 'nonstandard'. 標準語 is the 'standard Japanese' dialect (it's not a whole separate language) and 関西弁 is a 'nonstandard Japanese' dialect.

For the purpose of communication, which is what all language is for really, you have to guess what is most likely to be accepted by the receiver. Who are you trying to communicate with, Hirashin?
 

johnnyG

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@hirashin A little more to ramble on about here... First, to recall your examples:

I know that you say "The game has already begun." (present perfect)
But do you ever say "The game already began"? (past simple)

One issue to consider here is 'already'. Usage is different in BE (british) and AE (american english). In BE, 'already' is generally not used with simple past, while it is used with present (and past) perfect. OTOH, in AE, using 'already' with simple past is more acceptable (along with using it with present/past perfect).

<digression>
A prescriptivist might say that the 'correct' way to use (and teach) the use of 'already' is that it should not be used with simple past ("That's wrong") and that it is okay to use--can be used--with present and past perfect. Here, the BE model is seen as correct, and the AE usage is seen as sloppy, incorrect, lax, and so on.

A descriptivist would look at English as it is used in many different places, see some differences in how 'already' is being used, and would hold back on judging what is right/wrong, or correct/incorrect. They would teach both, perhaps pointing out (in this case) that geography is a factor in its use.
<end digression>


Another thing I posted about was that 'begin' and 'start' felt different--when used with 'already'--in the examples I posted above: (along with a comment I made)

a) The game already began.
b) The game already started.

Again, I agree with what Lothar said about (a). But then (b) sounds fine to me in a way that (a) does not.


I think one reason 'start' seemed more acceptable to me there is the form of the verb. As you know, the simple past and participle forms are the same: started/started. However, for 'begin', those are different: began/begun.

Perhaps as an american, (b) sounds okay to me because it's easy to overlook or ignore one tiny missing piece--a hardly pronounced 's after game: "The game's already started." In spoken english, it's an easy "who cares" thing. Eliding/dropping the 's is something americans don't miss or worry about. Some part of an american's brain is processing that: "Eh, it sounds like present perfect, so who cares?" So, "The game already started" can kind of pass as present perfect. (contains two signals of present perfect)

On the other hand, using 'begin' in this kind of example creates flashing lights--or at least a more prominent signal of what's going on. I think the reason is the difference in verb form: began/begun. Because of the different form, 'began' cannot pass as present perfect.

"The game's already begun" has three signals that it is past perfect--the 's, the word 'already' (the proper use of it), and the form of the verb.

The example in your initial post, "The game already began," has two signals of simple past: no 's (or 'has'), and a verb form that also strongly signals simple past (began). Those signals clash with 'already', a pretty good signal of present (or past) perfect. ((And I'd offer that the more I look at (a), above, the more I think it is wrong.))

Bottom line: 'already' is a marker of (is used with) present/past perfect. Even slack and slovenly americans*--depending on their education level and demographics--have some awareness of that.

* ;)

I know that TOEIC doesn't test BE/AE differences--they intentionally avoid that (e.g., verb agreement for collective nouns, different to vs different than, etc.), but I'm not sure how they'd view this particular question/issue.

Enough for tonight...!

(And note that 'already' shares some things with the usage of 'yet' and 'just', but let's leave those for some day in the future!)
 

Michael2

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Great post Johnny. I don't know if it's part of the reason for this too, but I found the difference between "start" and "begin" interesting too. "Start" is the effect or act of change, whereas "begin" is the first part of an ongoing action, hence why we say "in the beginning" to describe a part of a story (beginning, middle and end, not start, middle and end) whereas "at the start" would be right at the start of the story, or something like "I woke up with a start", and you can "start a car" or "start a restaurant" but not "begin a car/restaurant".
 

johnnyG

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I know that TOEIC doesn't test BE/AE differences ... but I'm not sure how they'd view this particular question/issue. ...

But EIKEN, on the other hand...! :rolleyes: :)

I wouldn't be surprised (at all) to see something on an EIKEN that specifically tests the correct use of 'already', possibly using some items that are close to hirashin's initial pair of sentences. And given its influence in certain circles here, I'd bet that BE is used as the model for what is right/correct.
 

Deibiddo

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Well 'already + past simple for one' isn't standard American so it won't be on a test. You'll never see it in a textbook. Even I was confused when I first heard it (I'm British) but Americans insist it's what the average person says.

There are other grammatical forms like 'She was like, "Can't believe you did that", and i was like, "Well, I did."' that people use everyday but they aren't standard/'correct' and won't be in a textbook despite their commonality. Teachers in American schools have to learn African American Vernacular English so they don't see it as 'incorrect' due to its difference from standard American. What's right and wrong is completely arbitrary
 

Buntaro

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Well 'already + past simple for one' isn't standard American so it won't be on a test.

I teach that it is American slang, as you are inferring.

For a better example of this example of slang, a mother can angrily ask her child:

(1) Did you wash your hands yet??!!

(2) Have you washed your hands yet??!!

where example (1) is slang.

But there is more to this. The examples (2) “the game has already begun” and (3) “the game already began” can be distinguished into two meanings. I teach that there are five types of present perfect, and one example of present perfect is emphasizing a state of being. We can say (4) “the train stopped” and (5) “the train has stopped.” Both (4) and (5) are correct and have different meanings. Example (5) emphasizes a state of being whereas (4) does not, and our students in Japan need to know this difference. (It is this state-of-being difference that causes people to want to use the “the game already began” slang phrase.)

By the way, I speak American English.
 
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