General Writing and Grammar Help/Over the last year

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Question
Dear Ted:

Should I use the present perfect tense or the simple past with "OVER THE LAST YEAR"?

Would you please give me some examples?

Thank you very much for your kind help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Should I use the present perfect tense or the simple past with "OVER THE LAST YEAR"?

Would you please give me some examples?

**** Either tense can be used.

SIMPLE PAST --

Over the last year, John grew taller by 10 inches.

Our company made a huge profit over the last year.

PRESENT PERFECT --

Over the last year, Janet has been developing into an excellent pianist.

Over the last year, John began experiencing the early signs of puberty.

*** Paolo, the major difference is that the present perfect tense does not "signal" a beginning or an end.  We don't know WHEN something started; we just know that it began sometime in the last 12 months.  Also, and even more importantly, we have no sense that the activity is OVER.  As far as we know, the piano playing and the puberty experiences WILL CONTINUE beyond the present time -- called "the time of speaking."

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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