As we saw in CHAPTER 6, concepts of a time frame and a cognitive ground can help comprehend the difference between the Simple and Perfect Aspects.
The Simple Aspect would have a closed time frame.
We could say,
5b. He loves to hear about Jim’s little cousin. He met the kid last summer.
We close the frame when we have the cognitive ground, as we saw also with example 2, in CHAPTER 6.
5a. He met Jim’s little cousin last summer.
In example 5a, the phrase “last summer” gives the cognitive ground for the verb form “met”. The verb form precedes the phrase, we yet always know what we want to say before we say it.
Our closing the frame does not mean we have to view the PRESENT for strictly separate from the PAST or FUTURE. We could say,
5c. He says (that) he met Jim’s little cousin last summer.
The Perfect Aspect would have an open time frame. We do not close this time frame on any particular real-time extent. It always tells about a span.
We could not say,
5d. *He has met Jim’s little cousin last summer.
(An asterisk can mark an incorrect expression. Informally, we may name a mistake a serious blunder.)
We also could not say,
5e. *He says (that) he has met Jim’s little cousin last summer.
To speak about the present and the past or future, we keep one time reference for one sentence or clause head.
We have those heads marked in ink blue, in all our examples here.
If we put both closed and open time frames with one sentence or clause head, our syntax will be broken.
5f. *He (says that he) has met Jim’s little cousin last summer.
The open time frame may suggest effects, highlights, as well as prospects.
6. He has written ten books.
(He is likely to write more; his writing belongs with the PRESENT.)
6a. He wrote ten books.
(Maybe he is not going to write any more; his writing belongs with a closed time frame in the PAST.)
Let us now think about our cognitive ground as with gravity. Let us say we speak about last year. The time reference, last year, gives us the notional ground.
6b. He wrote the book last summer.
(It does not matter, if his writing belongs with the PRESENT or PAST. We have the notional ground and this makes our gravity work.)
To respond to 6b, many classic grammar books might advise to use the Present Perfect.
6d. I have/haven’t seen the book.
Pragmatically, we would be making quite a broad open time frame with that, however. The frame would emphasize the time span. This is why in everyday American we happen to get forms as here.
6d. I never read / saw the book.
Language allows to pool the cognitive information and say we never saw or read the book the author wrote last year.
It is for the sake of the cognitive ground that most people would add some circumstance, to affirm.
6e. I saw it at our book fair/ that year, etc.
It is not just a concept that human brains can do logic. The sooner we begin to work on it, the better.
Feel welcome to further language journey.
6.2. ASPECT COGNITIVE VARIABLE AND TIME FRAME