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English grammar: it's been a long time since + present perfect or past tense?


Mark Skype Teacher

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Festive greetings to all!

I have a doubt about the correct tense for the following structure:

It's been a long time since I studied at university/I have studied at university..

I always thought that we can only use past tense in this structure at the end because the act of studying university is a finished action. I have also seen the present perfect utilised at the end of the sentence. Is this correct too? Perhaps one form is British English and the other American English?

If anyone would be so kind to enlighten us concerning this we'd be most grateful.

Thank you in advance.

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From an American English perspective, both the past tense and the present perfect sound correct. Neither one sounds more natural than the other. In American English however, rather than saying "to study at university" we would most likely say "to go to college." Therefore the sentence would be: "It's been a long time since I went to college" or "It's been a long time since I've gone to college" from an American English perspective.

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