What’s between Present and Past?

The answer is: Present Perfect. At least in English because Hungarian has a clear concept about present and past, so there is no transition. However, English has a transition between present and past expressed by the above-mentioned tense. It is not quite present and not quite past. An action expressed with Present Perfect begins in the past, continues in the present and maybe goes on in the future.

Let’s take a look at these sentences so that you understand what I mean:

Már két napja olvasom a könyvet.
I’ve been reading the book for two days now.

Már két napja nem olvastam a könyvet.
I haven’t been reading the book for two days.

The positive Present Perfect sentence is translated with present tense in Hungarian. The negative Present Perfect sentence is translated with past tense in Hungarian.

Or another example:

Négy éve nem láttalak. – I haven’t seen you for four years.

It doesn’t make any sense using present tense in Hungarian because if I haven’t seen someone for years, then the last time I saw that person was in the past. The past tense is the right choice in Hungarian and note that the sentence is negative (nem láttalak).


Present Perfect positive = Hungarian present tense
Present Perfect negative = Hungarian past tense

Next time I’d like to talk about the -lak, -lek suffixes in past tense because I completely forgot about it. That will be the last entry about past tense. Bye now. 🙂

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