We can think about grammar as allowing varied views on time.

The picture here is part a ■→CITYSCAPE SERIES by Camille Pissarro. The series shows Boulevard Montmartre at different times of the year, day, and in varied weather.


Let us imagine an American in Paris (■→GEORGE GERSHWIN did). The American we imagine could be a young woman.

She could be the Jill from the office, the Jill Smith that Jim wanted to meet. Jin was not lying. Jill is on her vacation.

Could this be Jill?

Jill is a reedy yet energetic figure, her rebellious and dark, almost black hair flying in the mid-September Paris wind. Jill is a very resolute person, one to walk big steps and to breathe deep.

Jill is entering a French restaurant ― a place deliberately prudent in its fine interior. She is looking for her friend, Madame Règle. Madame Règle often has her lunch there.

Monsieur Sauf is not the stereotype, for a man to make his living gratifying taste buds. But the large apron knotted on his left hip in a kind of ― Jill, though learned, would never be sure ― stevedore or half hitch, you could think that he is some athlete, here about a plate of Moules Marinière himself. He is the restaurateur.

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This is not the first time Jill meets Monsieur Sauf. Still, she feels minute in his presence. She asks Monsieur Sauf about Madame Règle. Monsieur Sauf could say, reliant on his knowledge,

7. I haven’t seen her today.

He also could say,
7a. I didn’t see her today.

Madame Règle is not a systematic person at all. The only regularity about her would be a small book she always carries fastened to her bag with a scarf or, actually, a variety of scarves of many colors and textures.

The book is not the same book every day, and the choice of the scarf sure depends on some totally unpredictable factor, just as the exact time for lunch, for which you might want to assume the broad time frame of about sixty minutes to commence or not to happen altogether.

Madame Règle comes to lunch between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m., or she does not show up at all. Let us check on the time. It is 1:30.

Monsieur Sauf can use expression 7. The expression has an open time frame. Madame Règle still may emerge in the door.

7. I haven’t seen her today.

Let us now think the time is 2:30. Monsieur Sauf can use expression 7a. The expression has a closed and PAST time frame. He knows that Madame Règle is not coming today. The knowledge is part the context.

7a. I didn’t see her today.

What if Jill asks whether Madame Règle was there, let us say, half an hour earlier? Monsieur Sauf may follow his “linguistic gravitation”,

7b. I didn’t see her.
(On the cognitive ground: She was not here at the time in the PAST you are asking about.)

Jill is a grindstone to turn about good food. There is no telling her that good food could be bad and she esteems the French cuisine.

She usually visits Monsieur Sauf’s restaurant when she is in Paris. If she meets Madame Règle, she sure will join her for a meal by a table looking to the Quai de Seine (!)

There is an anecdote associated with Benjamin Franklin. A man asked a smith to make his ax especially sharp and polished. The man ended up turning the grindstone himself.

We can find plenty of facts and trivia about America at ■→ARCHIVE.ORG, a free internet resource. ■→MY ACCOUNT has USA civics, as well as the manuscript for Benjamin Franklin’s memoir. Feel welcome.

Let us practice our more and more ■→METICULOUS natures in exercises.