Is Yesterday a past time?

IQ   Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 10:20 GMT
Is Yesterday a past time?

If yes, I don't know how to define past. Please tell us how to recognize a time as past. As I know, many tenses are explained based on the definition of past. If we cannot define what is past, then some few tenses can be questionable, I guess.

When we were a child and could not analyze anything, we were taught that Yesterday is a definite past time adverb (so we use Simple Past, instead of Present Perfect). But as now we have some common sense, we may ask, how to define a time as past? As long as we have Today, there is Yesterday. Since Today will not be ended and disappear, so will not Yesterday. You may say it is a relative past, but hardly a definite past. But as we shall see below, it is not even past at all.

To be fair, however, we admit there is past time. We agree 25April2003 is a past, because we don't have another 25April2003 again. It has gone and never comes back anew, so it is past. We actually understand what is past. Nevertheless, we will forever have a new Yesterday!! If we regard 25April2003 as Yesterday, on the next day, we will call 26April2003 as Yesterday. On another day, we still have another Yesterday: 27April2003. Even today, we still have Yesterday. Deductive reasoning and common sense tell us that tomorrow we may still have another new Yesterday, so will next week. However, if in the future we still have another new Yesterday, which has not yet come by now, how can we say it is past? It is not even a past at all.

If Yesterday is forever here and never gone, how comes they say Yesterday is a past time? Even worse, how can they conclude Yesterday is a definite past?

Yesterday is just an example I use to bring up the basic question: what is the standard to define a time as past, even a definite past? The same question applies to Last Week, Last Year, etc.

Your opinion is welcome.

Shun   Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 10:23 GMT
It is for fun only. :-)
Mxsmanic   Friday, November 12, 2004, 12:38 GMT
There is no precise classification for yesterday. It all depends on your perception. And your choice of tense should reflect your perception. If you perceive it to be a finished past, use the past simple tense; if you perceive it to be linked to or part of the present, use a present perfect.

Most native speakers perceive yesterday as a finished past in most contexts and will thus tend to favor the past simple.
Xatufan   Friday, November 12, 2004, 21:05 GMT
You shouldn't focus in "yesterday", because it's a very relative term, it changes according to the day. You should focus in the fact that the day before this one was 11 November 2004, and we won't have a 11 Nov 2004 again. So 11 Nov 2004 (i.e. yesterday) is past.
Xatufan   Friday, November 12, 2004, 21:07 GMT
Italian differences the passato prossimo (e.g. yesterday) from the passato remoto (far away past, e.g. 1567). But, where's the limit between both pasts?
ash   Saturday, November 13, 2004, 05:13 GMT
yes,of course yesterday is the past.
Damian   Saturday, November 13, 2004, 08:48 GMT
The real conundrum is the Present. Does it really exist? If so, is it less than a nano second? The future becomes the present which in turn becomes the past... all in the blink of an eye. What happened 10 seconds ago is as much part of history as the creation of time itself.
Shun   Saturday, November 13, 2004, 13:36 GMT
Today, Yesterday is 12Nov2004, why do you say that I shall focus on 11Nov2004? It doesn't make any sense. And this is the difficulty of Yesterday.

We are talking about Yesterday and the past time, and you stay on "the Present" time.

Most important, nearly every one here missed my main point: How to define PAST? As I noted, Yesterday is jsut a tool I use to show to you how difficulty it is to define it.

It is important to define the past, isn't it?
Jim   Monday, November 15, 2004, 08:21 GMT
For a good definition of the past you need a splash of relativity.
Shun   Monday, November 15, 2004, 14:03 GMT
I agree to Ex4 above. But shall we be able to use Present Perfect at all, like the followin example?

Ex "Last week we went to a store department. We bought many things. I have recommended the department to Ms B."
japonais   Monday, November 15, 2004, 23:35 GMT
Everyday will be a yesterday. So yesterdays are in future.
Jim   Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 03:56 GMT
"Last week we went to a department store. We bought many things. I have recommended the department to Ms B."

This would be fine.
Mysterioso   Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 04:32 GMT
Past is any time from one moment previous to the moment in which you are speaking; in other words, any completed action is past tense. We use modifiers, such as "just," "recently," "a while ago" etc. to give an idea as to how far in the past the action was done.
Shun   Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 06:56 GMT

You said it would be fine. But I want to need to know why it is fine?

"Last week we went to a department store. We bought many things. I have recommended the department to Ms B."

Why we cannot use HAVE BOUGHT, but can HAVE RECOMMENDED?

As you see, I get the same idea, but I don't know why.
Shun   Wednesday, November 17, 2004, 07:12 GMT
> Past is any time from one moment previous
> to the moment in which you are speaking; in
> other words, any completed action is past tense.
My reply: I am afraid it is not true. Do we eat dinner anymore. Yes, we do, we always do. This is a routine we cannot change. But we may still sometimes say in Simple Past, “I ate dinner”. Is the routine completed now? I guess not. That is to say, we use Simple Past not because of a completed action.