English: He [has] locked the door so I can't get in

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English: He [has] locked the door so I can't get in

Postby AvidLearner# » Sun May 19, 2024 2:16 pm

Suppose John has been ordered to catch someone and get something from them that they stole from his boss. John goes after that person and finds their car in a couple of hours. He calls his boss, and they have the following conversation:

Scenario #1:
John: "I found his car."
John's boss: "Good. Is he inside?"
John: "No... He locked the door, so I can't get in."
John's boss: "Break the door and search the car."

Scenario #2:
John: "I found his car."
John's boss: "Is he inside?"
John: "Yes, but he's locked the door, so I can't get in."
John's boss: "If he won't open the door, break it and then search the car."


I'm wondering about the use of the bolded tenses in the above two scenarios.

I think that in American English it is possible to say either "he's locked" or "he locked" in the second scenario, but in the first scenario, only "he locked" is appropriate.

In British English, I think either "he's locked" or "he locked" is possible in the first scenario, whereas in the second scenario only "he's locked" is correct.

Would you agree with me? Thank you.
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Re: English: He [has] locked the door so I can't get in

Postby DaveAgain » Sun May 19, 2024 2:58 pm

AvidLearner# wrote:Suppose John has been ordered to catch someone and get something from them that they stole from his boss. John goes after that person and finds their car in a couple of hours. He calls his boss, and they have the following conversation:

Scenario #1:
John: "I found his car."
John's boss: "Good. Is he inside?"
John: "No... He locked the door, so I can't get in."
John's boss: "Break the door and search the car."

Scenario #2:
John: "I found his car."
John's boss: "Is he inside?"
John: "Yes, but he's locked the door, so I can't get in."
John's boss: "If he won't open the door, break it and then search the car."


I'm wondering about the use of the bolded tenses in the above two scenarios.

I think that in American English it is possible to say either "he's locked" or "he locked" in the second scenario, but in the first scenario, only "he locked" is appropriate.

In British English, I think either "he's locked" or "he locked" is possible in the first scenario, whereas in the second scenario only "he's locked" is correct.

Would you agree with me? Thank you.
You can use he's locked [he has locked], or he locked in both scenarios. I'm British, but I don't see why that would vary for Americans.
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I think I would say "break in", or "break the window" rather than "break the door"
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Re: English: He [has] locked the door so I can't get in

Postby Cainntear » Sun May 19, 2024 4:13 pm

AvidLearner# wrote:Suppose John has been ordered to catch someone and get something from them that they stole from his boss. John goes after that person and finds their car in a couple of hours. He calls his boss, and they have the following conversation:

Scenario #1:
John: "I found his car."
John's boss: "Good. Is he inside?"
John: "No... He locked the door, so I can't get in."
John's boss: "Break the door and search the car."

Scenario #2:
John: "I found his car."
John's boss: "Is he inside?"
John: "Yes, but he's locked the door, so I can't get in."
John's boss: "If he won't open the door, break it and then search the car."


I'm wondering about the use of the bolded tenses in the above two scenarios.

I think that in American English it is possible to say either "he's locked" or "he locked" in the second scenario, but in the first scenario, only "he locked" is appropriate.

In British English, I think either "he's locked" or "he locked" is possible in the first scenario, whereas in the second scenario only "he's locked" is correct.

Would you agree with me? Thank you.

I think this a very subtle one. Scenario 1 very strongly implies that he specifically wants to lock John out, although in that case I would probably say "He locked the door so I couldn't get in". It's possible in scenario 2 that he's done it deliberately, but it isn't implied as such -- it's just a possible meaning.
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Re: English: He [has] locked the door so I can't get in

Postby zac299 » Mon May 20, 2024 3:48 am

Both are totally fine from my POV of Australian English as well.
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Re: English: He [has] locked the door so I can't get in

Postby dubendorf » Mon May 20, 2024 6:35 am

The description I have heard of the distinction between preterite (he locked) and present perfect (he has locked) is that present perfect has some connection to the present moment while preterite does not. Based on that definition, that would suggest he has locked is more appropriate. However, as an American English speaker, I think both versions work well in both scenarios. This is something I find somewhat confusing about that particular definition, but perhaps the distinction is more subtle than I have implied here.
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Re: English: He [has] locked the door so I can't get in

Postby Le Baron » Mon May 20, 2024 11:49 am

AvidLearner# wrote:John: "No... He locked the door, so I can't get in."

John: "Yes, but he's locked the door, so I can't get in."


These - as Cainntear pointed to - suggest entirely different motivations and therefore different situations. The locked door in no.1 is just ordinary practise when leaving your car. In no.2 it's done to prevent someone getting in to get at John. So as dubendorf says just above the second has relevance to the present, which : John right in front of him in a locked car.

In no.1 the person merely found a locked car and that could have happened at any time in the past.
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Re: English: He [has] locked the door so I can't get in

Postby Cainntear » Mon May 20, 2024 12:06 pm

Le Baron wrote:
AvidLearner# wrote:John: "No... He locked the door, so I can't get in."

John: "Yes, but he's locked the door, so I can't get in."


These - as Cainntear pointed to - suggest entirely different motivations and therefore different situations.

Actually, more than that... the question had misdirected my attention, so I hadn't even noticed that one answered "yes" and the other answered "no"!

The thing is that there really is no clear motivation for why John wants to get into the car, so I can't really make head nor tail of it.

The thing is, where you're dealing with subtler and subtler points, subtle errors/unnatural features get more and more of an issue.

Let's analyse:
> John: "I found his car."
The fact that he says "his car" starts to suggest he was looking for him, and "his car" is the first indicator he might have found him.
> John's boss: "Good. Is he inside?"
This reinforces the idea that we're looking for "him".
> John: "No... He locked the door, so I can't get in."
If we are looking for "him", why would we want to go into "his car" if he's not in it?
> John's boss: "Break the door and search the car."
But John's just told you "he" isn't there! Why would we want to open the door at all? What are we looking for?

So if you build up a contrived example, you'll only get people saying "it could be right either way" because the clarity of intention is missing.

And don't be disheartened by this, AvidLearner#... it's a sign that your English is way better than most...! ;)
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Re: English: He [has] locked the door so I can't get in

Postby jackb » Mon May 20, 2024 2:30 pm

I think that in American English it is possible to say either "he's locked" or "he locked" in the second scenario, but in the first scenario, only "he locked" is appropriate.


I don't know what's considered to be appropriate. In regular speech, I will only say "he locked". To my ear, it always sounds formal/British/Australian when someone uses have/has this way.
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Re: English: He [has] locked the door so I can't get in

Postby golyplot » Mon May 20, 2024 3:07 pm

jackb wrote:I don't know what's considered to be appropriate. In regular speech, I will only say "he locked". To my ear, it always sounds formal/British/Australian when someone uses have/has this way.


I think "he's locked the door" suggests the image that he's still in there taunting you as you futily try to get in, whereas "he locked" has no such implication.
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Re: English: He [has] locked the door so I can't get in

Postby Cainntear » Mon May 20, 2024 6:49 pm

golyplot wrote:
jackb wrote:I don't know what's considered to be appropriate. In regular speech, I will only say "he locked". To my ear, it always sounds formal/British/Australian when someone uses have/has this way.


I think "he's locked the door" suggests the image that he's still in there taunting you as you futily try to get in, whereas "he locked" has no such implication.
...which kind of begs the question: did you notice the fact that the "yes" from version 1 has changed to "no"? I think the "has locked" thing makes it sound like he's still there, and I didn't notice the No->Yes switch, probably in no small part because of that...
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